Week of non-violence aimed at ‘changing cultural norms’


For the sixth year in a row, Black Women For Positive Change (BW4PC) will partner with schools, clergy and communities as part of its week of non-violence campaign.
The series of events kicks off with a proclamation from Pittsburgh Councilman Anthony Coghill and continues Oct. 14-20 with a number of workshops and discussion panels aimed at reducing violence in the Black community.
Pittsburgh BW4PC Chair Diane Powell said the goal nationally is to reach more than 25,000 people with a strong message and community action. But locally, she said, this year’s campaign is focused on increasing involvement by the church.
“We’re making a concerted effort to get faith leaders to be more proactive in interrupting the cycle of violence,” she told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview.
“We have residents pleading with church leaders to come out and meet the people where they are. When you hear about something, come out from the church and pray with us, minister, counsel us. Don’t wait for us to come inside.”
This year’s campaign also includes multiple activities in the Penn Hills and Woodland Hills school districts aimed at promoting student leadership on ways to increase the peace and finding alternatives to violence.
There is also an essay contest for middle school and high school students based around the film “Drop—A Story of Triumph,” which focuses on the importance of education and interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
Powell said the organization has increased its partnerships to include New Voices Pittsburgh and the West End Power community group. It has also worked with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s office and Pittsburgh police to help families of gun violence victims better navigate the legal system and better understand the investigative process. She also said the organization now has a “millennial chair,” Ebony Giles.
And though measuring the success of such a campaign is difficult, at best, Powell is undeterred.
“Even if we are just quelling a family’s grief by getting answers, that’s a success,” she said.
Ultimately, changing cultural norms is a slow process. But we are committed to making people more aware, better at handling conflict and re-doing the norms around guns, violence, and making people feel safer.”
This year’s scheduled events are:
•Oct. 14—Moms Demand Action–Gun Violence Workshop, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1965 Ferguson Rd., Allison Park, 1-4 p.m.
•Oct. 15—New Voices Pittsburgh, 5987 Broad St., 5-7 p.m.
•Oct 16—Interfaith Service Calling, St. James AME Church, 444 Lincoln Ave. at 6pm, in partnership with Black Political Empowerment Project
•Oct. 19—Roundtable Discussion with clergy and community leaders with Homewood Ministries, hosted at Bethany Baptist Church, 7745 Tioga St.
•Oct. 20—Community Workshop on non-violence with Intercommunity Violence Partners, St. James Church, 11524 Frankstown Rd., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
(For more information email Diane Powell at pittbw4pc@gmail.com.)
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