The Richmond Peace Education Center is pleased to announce that Dr. Ram Bhagat has been named 2016 Peacemaker of the Year.
A longtime educator, activist, and creative force, Ram Bhagat has been teaching and transforming communities for 30 years.
In the late 1990s, Ram co-founded Drums No Guns, a world percussion ensemble that inspires people of all backgrounds to challenge gun violence. “The drum lifts us,” he has said. “The drum connects us; the drum is a powerful force … I use the drum to unite people of all ages, of all races.”
He was the catalyst for the founding of the Richmond Youth Peace Project in 2004 following the murders of two local high school students. The Richmond Youth Peace Project, a collaboration between the Richmond Peace Education Center and Drums No Guns, encourages young people to learn nonviolent conflict resolution techniques, and express themselves creatively, to reduce the level of violence in central Virginia. Over the years the Richmond Youth Peace Project has empowered hundreds of teens to become leaders for peace and community change.
Ram Bhagat participated in the first international Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) training in Burundi, East Africa, together with Peace Center staff person Santa Sorenson. HROC is a healing and reconciliation program that facilitates healing from trauma caused by violence, war and genocide. Under Richmond Peace Education Center auspices, Ram, Santa and other skilled facilitators have helped many trauma-affected community members begin to heal.
Several local organizations, including the Richmond Peace Education Center and School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC) have benefited from his service on their boards of directors. Today Ram serves as Board President of The Conciliation Project, a social justice theater organization that promotes open and honest dialogue about racism and oppression in America in order to repair its damaging legacy. He also supports Girls For A Change.
His deep commitment to the prevention of gun violence, and to the social emotional health of African American and Latino adolescents, is rooted in the tragic gun death of his younger brother.
In his recent TEDxRVA talk, Ram quoted the great educator Paolo Friere: “The community must be uplifted by the victims of trauma, the oppressed, who must not become perpetrators, but who, through a process of self-healing, uplift the community.”
Ram retired from Open High School in 2015, where he chaired the science department, having earned numerous teaching awards. Today he serves as Science Department Chair at Ballou Senior High School in Washington, D.C.
Through his 30 years of teaching, creative initiatives, and countless community collaborations, Ram Bhagat has impacted countless lives.
The Richmond Peace Education Center thanks Dr. Ram Bhagat for his brilliant work for a more peaceful and just community. We are pleased to honor him as the 2016 Peacemaker of the Year.
The Peacemaker Award ceremony will take place at the Peace Center Member Thank You Dinner on May 26.
The Peace Center will also recognize Dr. Bhagat at the Nov. 5 Dinner & Auction.