Peace Center All-Stars Receive Black and Bold Award

The Peace Center could not be more excited to have not one, but TWO of our all-stars honored with Diversity Richmond’s Black and Bold award–an award that honors the achievements of Black LGBTQ+ people and their work in the Richmond Community. 

Jelani Drew joined the Peace Center as Advocacy Coordinator last July. In addition to their activism and grassroots organizing at the Peace Center, Jelani has played an important role working in the Richmond Community. Rebecca Keel works as a juvenile justice organizer with the Legal Aid Justice Center. Rebecca has been a long time conflict resolution facilitator and one of our Albert Hill facilitators as well. 

Jelani and Rebecca see this award as more than an affirmation of their work in the city, but also a way to continue to push forward the work of black folks as well. 

“Richmond has so much history rooted in racism & anti-blackness but also black resilience,” says Jelani. “So this award is uplifting the work of black folks who exist and resist every day, in spite of what is against us.”

Rebecca also sees this as a reminder of how much the city has changed and the importance of continuing to work towards creating a more equitable Richmond. “Richmond’s foundation was created through the sale and trade of Black people. The Black & Bold recognition doesn’t un-do that past, but shows how much the city is growing and unlearning behaviors of its white supremacist past, and present. This award comes as a kind reminder for me to keep engaging, keep having difficult conversations, and keep organizing.”

But what can organizations working towards social justice do to continue to highlight, recognize, and honor the work of Black folks in the Richmond Community? Both Jelani and Rebecca agree black voices must continue to be brought to the forefront.  “It is the duty of social justice organizations, non-profits, and government entities to promote Black leadership,” says Rebecca. 
 
Jelani sees the role of social justice organizations as playing two parts- uplifting Black-led initiatives and looking within their own organizations to create change from within. “First, I think Black-led organizations & campaigns need to be highlighted by the organization’s that support them. In addition, I think organizations should hire more black folks to do everything not, just their diversity work! Organizations also need to be finding any roots white supremacy in the organization and do something to eradicate it.”
 
We are so excited to see what else these two bright stars have to offer the Peace Center, and the Richmond Community in the years to come. Congratulations, Jelani and Rebecca!