Fifth annual town hall elevates our collective history of community organizing

Photo: Erika Guadalupe Nuñez

“We need more time to listen to each other,” according to the group of children who participated in Bread & Roses’ fifth annual town hall on March 28 to discuss ideas for how to build justice and equity in our region.

More than 150 people attended the gathering, titled “The Fire THIS Time: Community Organizing Then and Now,” at Taller Puertorriqueño.

The town hall offered a space for both seasoned organizers and first-time activists to ground themselves in the history of local people’s movements. Together, participants recognized that we all stand on the shoulders of so many people, both well-known and unsung, whose fights for justice we now carry forward.

Inspired by Bread & Roses’ 40th anniversary, the town hall planning committee created an oversized timeline populated with racial and economic justice victories, milestones, and struggles over the last 40 years. As participants entered the room, they were invited to add depth to the timeline by writing in their own personal stories and remembrances.

The program opened with uplifting singing and drumming by Rev. Rhetta Morgan of Ecclesia Spiritual Center and Malik Wilford-Williams of Urban Creators. From there, participants formed small groups to reflect on organizing in the past, share experiences of today’s activism and resistance, and look ahead toward a shared vision of real change. In closing, Juntos executive director Erika Almiron reminded the room that “those who are most marginalized will be the light and leadership in this moment.”