December Newsletter: #BlackLivesMatter. And at LPTM, #BlackLivesThrive
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#BlackLivesMatter. And at LPTM, #BlackLivesThrive.
Dear wonderful Life Pieces Family,
We're sure you've heard that powerful call by now, started by three Black queer activists in the wake of the Travon Martin shooting and carrying on a long legacy of demands to recognize Black humanity stretching back to the "I am a man" rallying cry of abolitionists and the Civil Rights Movement.
We embrace that history and that call not out of division and certainly not out of despair. Instead, our 19 years of work with young Black men has been built on an unshakable faith in the core premise of #BlackLivesMatter and all other cries for equality, justice, and respect: the reality of our shared humanity.
That shared humanity is what motivates us, what drives us, and what fuels the transformative power of our mission. We work to make Life Pieces a living example of all that unites us, connects us, and illuminates the beauty of our human experience. We work with young Black men and honor Black male identity - and we do it with a global focus that brings our young men into the world and brings the world to our young men.
At Life Pieces To Masterpieces, individuals of all races, genders, orientations, backgrounds, and identities unite around the truth that Black lives matter. The power of that shared belief extends well beyond the borders of our neighborhood and our city. This year alone, we have hosted contingents of artists, community-builders, and change-makers from Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. Our staff and daily volunteers come from communities across the District, across the country, and across the world. And with their help, our Apprentices learn and gain inspiration from both their own communities' history, culture, and means of creative expression and those of communities across the globe.
And so, during what is for many a time of confusion, pain, and anger, we are honored and proud to witness every day what happens when Black lives are seen for what they are: beautiful, powerful, brilliant, and valuable beyond measure. It is our privilege to see the transformation that occurs when the young men in our programs connect to their own humanity, power, and purpose.
Our unique longitudinal model, through which we serve young Black men ages 3 all the way to 25, ensures that our Apprentices have access to support and positive examples at every phase of their development. When a child can look up and see strong, compassionate, and thoughtful young Black men of every age sharing their stories and speaking their truths, his perspective shifts. His value becomes clear. His future feels brighter. He begins to believe in his ability to grow in spite of obstacles.
That's what it looks like when #BlackLivesMatter. That's what it looks like when #BlackLivesThrive.
If you haven't yet, we hope you'll come see for yourself. Walk through the halls of our site on the fourth floor of Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, and you will see playing out before you a panoramic vision of what positive development can look like. You'll see our youngest 3-year-olds in our Tree House class proudly bowing to each other, meditating to start their day, and proclaiming themselves to be GENTLEMEN, SCHOLARS, ARTISTS, ATH-UH-LEEEETES! You'll see 7- and 8-year-olds in our Kings classes learning the joy of seeing their artistic power come to life, creating paintings and newscasts and comics and friendships. You'll see the middle school Scholars in our Legacy class taking on leadership roles, dreaming about their futures, and talking seriously about how to navigate the challenges in their lives.
You'll also see high-school Apprentices in our Saturday Academy serving as Junior Mentors, guiding their younger Brothers and building their leadership and work skills. In every classroom, you'll see the amazing Lead Teachers and Senior Mentors - most of whom grew up as Apprentices in our program - who create our environment of love, security, and expression each day.
You'll see young men who are connected to themselves and to their world. Our Teachers and Mentors create lesson plans around our Human Development System, which teaches beliefs, values, and strategies for living and acting that connect individuals to their shared humanity. And while our Apprentices learn about those values, they also learn about current events and past events, rooting themselves in a world whose pace and 24-hour news cycle can often work to sweep away memory and meaning. Out of those discussions of compassionate connection to past, present, and future come our most powerful artwork, our most lasting growth, and our most beautiful relationships. Our Apprentices learn at every age their own power to shape the world - just this week, after a discussion on hunger and homelessness, our Kings Apprentices took it upon themselves to coordinate a food drive to serve the homeless in their community.
In short, you'll see Black lives thrive. Because within our walls, there is no question of the value of a life. In a world that often feels unsafe and unwelcoming, we create a space where diverse voices come together to affirm to each of our Apprentices the simple but powerful truth:
You matter. Your life matters. Your identities matter. Your growth, development, and well-being matter. Your voice and your ideas matter.
And when you know it, you have the power to make the world listen.
We can't thank you enough for your willingness to honor, to support, and to lift up the lives of our young Black men.
Click through to read the rest of our December 2014 newsletter: