Director’s Reflection on 2015 Peacemakers

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 


RPEC’s Peacemaker of the Year award recognizes and celebrates a community leader or group whose work has advanced peace, justice and inclusion in our region. This year, the Richmond Peace Education Center honors two extraordinary Peacemakers who put peace and social justice into action in our community: Dr. John Moeser and the Thrifty Quaker. 

Honoring these two Peacemakers makes me reflect on how they both, in different ways, embody important qualities of leadership for social change. As unique as these two Peacemakers are, both have shown: 

Sustained commitment 
Dr. Moeser has worked for more than a generation to illuminate and challenge the institutional roots of racial disparity in Richmond through his extensive scholarship, teaching and community engagements. Thrifty Quaker has steadfastly contributed to the community for nearly two decades, overcoming economic dips and challenges to quietly persevere in its mission. 

Institutional change 
Dr. Moeser’s work brings into focus the institutional arrangements and systems that divide our region, making visible the policy causes of racial segregation in our city, the way historic racism continues to bear on the present, and the roots of the city-county divide. His analyses help people to see the region as a region with a shared fate. Thrifty Quaker has strategically supported organizations working for peace and equity in our region, bolstering the overall institutional capacity for peace and social change work locally. 

Courage rooted in core values
Dr. Moeser has displayed courage in making visible our region’s painful and difficult history and naming its continuing divisions. He has spoken truth to power again and again, while remaining rooted in a core spirit of kindness and compassion. The Thrifty Quaker has courageously supported pacifist, antiwar, and other groups that are unlikely recipients of grants, and grounds its work in the Quaker peace tradition. These qualities—sustained commitment, a willingness to work for institutional change, and profound courage rooted in core values–are features of leadership that our region, and our world, need more of. We thank our 2015 Peacemakers of the Year for all they have done and for inspiring us with their examples.

Read more about RPEC’s 2015 Peacemakers of the Year in the June issue of the newsletter: