Thank you for all the ways in which you have joined with AFSC over the past year in building peace and justice—writings letters to Congress, taking part in local actions, mobilizing members of your community, attending trainings and webinars, supporting our work through donations, and sharing our resources with family and friends.
As 2019 draws to a close, we wanted to share just some of the highlights from the past year, made possible with your support.
This May, we celebrated the first year of the South Los Angeles Community Farm, a collaboration between AFSC’s Roots for Peace program and All Peoples Community Center. At the farm, majority immigrant and Latinx communities impacted by unequal access to healthy food can grow their own produce using environmentally conscious methods.
In September, AFSC joined millions around the world the youth-inspired Global Climate Strike leading up to the United Nations Climate Summit. AFSC General Secretary Joyce Ajlouny and Board Chair Phil Lord joined in from the Nobel Laureates World Summit in Mexico, and our partners in Indonesia organized multiple demonstrations.
AFSC created “Crossing South: Resources for people returning to México, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.” When immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for many years face deportation or must return to their countries of origin for other reasons, they may have little knowledge of what awaits them. Crossing South provides information on steps to take before leaving, tips for staying safe, and local organizations that support returnees. Find “Crossing South” here and read more about its creation from Christina Zaldivar, a member of the Not1More Table, an immigrant-led group coordinated and supported by AFSC.
Our speaking tour “Hashtags to Headlines: How the Gaza Great March of Return Challenged the World,” brought the visionary Palestinian writer from Gaza Ahmed Abu Artema to cities across the U.S. Ahmed’s writings on nonviolent protest helped inspire the Great March of Return March. “We are working to lift up the voices of Palestinians in Gaza and to call on those in the U.S. and around the world to join us in demanding an end to the Israeli military occupation and blockade,” said AFSC’s Jehad Abusalim. During the tour, we also launched a campaign that raised $30,000 to support elders in Gaza, providing them with medications, hygiene products, and other essential supplies.
In May, New Hampshire’s legislature voted to abolish the death penalty, after years of advocacy by AFSC’s New Hampshire program, partner organizations, Quakers and faith communities, and key elected officials. In this photo, AFSC’s Arnie Alpert (left) looks on as Senate President Donna Soucy signs the bill.
New Jersey adopted a law this July that limits solitary confinement for both people in prison and immigration detention centers. For years, AFSC and our partners in the New Jersey Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement have condemned isolation as a cruel practice that causes permanent mental health injuries. The new law sets an important precedent as we continue to push for the complete abolishment of solitary confinement nationwide.
One of AFSC’s greatest victories of 2019 was the closure of the largest migrant detention center for youth in the U.S., which was located in Homestead, Florida. Tens of thousands joined our national campaign to Shut Down Homestead Detention Center, and after months of rallies, vigils, marches, and advocacy, the child prison closed its doors in August. More than 3,000 children were released to relatives and sponsors or transferred to small state-licensed facilities in time to start school in September.
AFSC’s Youth in Action developed the “We Are Not At-Risk” social media campaign, challenging how we talk about youth across the world. Then this June, seven youth leaders from the U.S., Zimbabwe, El Salvador, and Indonesia gathered in Birmingham, UK to complete training and plan their next global campaign. In AFSC’s Youth in Action program, young people discuss the roots of racism and imperialism and apply their knowledge to create change in their communities.
In 2019, we launched our Alumni Network to help AFSC community members stay in touch with one another, share stories, and keep up to date on our work. This year, the Network surpassed 1,500 members, and 100 gathered for the first Alumni Dinner during our Annual Corporation Meeting in April. At the dinner, alumni posed with photographs of themselves from our #Archives and added their stories to a giant AFSC timeline. Learn more about AFSC’s Alumni Network and sign up for updates.
In October, AFSC co-sponsored “FOUND: Love Letters of Muslim Resistance and Community,” a Chicago exhibition of art by Muslims and allies. FOUND provided a space for Muslims to tell the stories of their experiences with state surveillance and violence and share expressions of creativity and resilience. Programming included training in countering Islamophobia, a screening of Assia Boundaoui’s “The Feeling of Being Watched,” and a fiber workshop led by refugee women’s sewing co-ops.
This year, AFSC continued our work with the Defund Hate coalition, putting pressure on Congress to end racist border militarization by cutting the budgets of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In June, we rallied outside the Senate Office Building to remember those who have died in detention. Defund Hate has already helped block billions of dollars of requested funds for ICE and CBP. Learn more about our campaign and how you can join our efforts.