At our All Fellows Conference this past week, our annual gathering with our community of social entrepreneurs, we listened deeply to the perspectives and calls to action of 160 Echoing Green Fellows who work every day at the forefront of social justice and social innovation, a powerful intersection where moral leadership emboldened by urgency and transformative vision unleashes powerful forces to create more equitable structures and systems. Their words and their bold ideas for change were echoed in those by Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed and Morehouse College President John Silvanus Wilson, Jr. We recommitted to the work while sitting in the pews of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, and walking through The Center for Civil and Human Rights. And we educated ourselves while watching Ava DuVernay’s documentary ‘13th’ and speaking with one of the film’s voices, Echoing Green Fellow Cory Greene.
Rather than feeling defeated, our resolve and our values are clearer than ever. Our community stands for—and is committed to—love, justice, and equity. Our welcome is inclusive of, and not limited to, leaders of every faith; ethnicity and ancestry; economic, political, and legal history and status; capability and disability; gender and sexuality; nation of birth and city of residence.
We were reminded this week of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s quote that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But we know that it does not bend itself. Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey urged us all to remember, “Our Fellows continue to fight the good fight. We’ve been here before, and there’s no more powerful force than all of us together.”
We heard from Fellows like:
- Anurag Gupta, 2016 Fellow and founder of Be More America, who trains professionals in competencies to “hack” unconscious bias in the US. Anurag shared that he’s had more requests than ever, from across sectors, to scale his work.
- Rachel Armstrong, 2012 Fellow and founder of Farm Commons, who works directly with rural entrepreneurs in the US by providing legal tools to better control their destinies. Moving forward, she’s launching a community organizing program to help channel rural entrepreneurs’ concerns into effective action to expand opportunities in these areas.
- Colette Pichon Battle, 2015 Fellow and founder of Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, is a native of Louisiana who, over the past nine years, has worked with local communities, national funders and elected officials around equity in the post-Katrina and post-BP disaster Gulf Coast. She is managing programs focused on migration, economic development, and equitable disaster recovery, and is a critical voice for climate justice in the South.
- Meena Jagannath and Alana Greer, 2015 Fellows and founders of Community Justice Project, which provides legal support to racial justice and human rights movements led by communities of color in Florida and beyond. Their work—which uses a broad range of legal tactics including human rights advocacy, litigation, and participatory research—will be more important than ever to bolster grassroots organizing on issues such as police accountability, mass incarceration, and economic justice in the years ahead.
These Fellows, and the other 700+ in our community, are sources of continued hope for all of us. We thank the city of Atlanta, our courageous and determined Fellows, our vast community of mentors and partners, and our supporters and donors, for helping us maintain our vision. There will be more work ahead, and we look forward to doing it in partnership with this incredible community.