Peace Fellow Spotlight: Gloria Smith

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Chicago Peace Fellow

What are some important updates in your current work?

The Black Star Project is a multifaceted initiative known for its actions with programs on education, culture, economic and workforce development, mentoring, tutoring and youth development, public policy and advocacy and violence prevention. Our programs encourage a holistic, intergenerational approach to community building.

Peace Fellows Gloria Smith (from left), Jeanette Coleman, coordinator Burrell Poe, Pamela Phoenix, Jacquelyn Moore and Robert Biekman pose for photo after meeting with Veterans for Peace.

Phillip Jackson, our founding director, passed away in November 2018. Phillip was a great inspiration to many and we have been challenged to determine how best to continue cultivating and sharing his wisdom with the world. While many of our supporters keep up with our work through the Black Star Project website and Facebook page, we also have a radio program on WVON on Saturdays at 6 p.m. and a periodic newsletter that is shared with a national and international audience.

Some of our recent projects include economic empowerment and non-profit management workshops, Saturday university academic programs, and Becoming Chicago’s Next CEO, a summer program for interns interested in learning investment skills. Most recently, we participated, along with our Young Black Men of Honor, in the Chicago Community Trust’s On the Table event by sending a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot sharing their thoughts on addressing violence in the community.

Peace Fellows Gloria Smith (left) and Jacquelyn Moore practice Appreciative Inquiry during a workshop at Breakthrough Ministries.

As Phillip's sister, I along with my staff and a host of organizations and supporters remain very much engaged in “the good work” that Phillip left for us to do and to share with as wide a community as possible.

How has GATHER informed the work that you do? Have you made any meaningful connections between GATHER and your work?

“Gathering” is at the heart of our work at The Black Star Project. We know this: What has always strengthened and encouraged Black and Brown people is our histories of struggle, our creativity, our humanity in the face of trauma, our connection to elders and ancestors, and the love and encouragement we must pass along to our young people.

Peace Fellow Gloria Smith shares the Asset Map she created with her neighbors of the Bronzeville community.

We believe that we need to be together. To spend time with each other – in small gatherings and large, sharing the wisdoms we’ve learned from our experiences. Our programs share the resources of history, spirit and culture that have provided strength and renewal to people struggling for the expression of their humanity in Chicago and elsewhere in the world. This is work we’ve done since our founding in 1996, work we remain committed to, and work that is very similar to the peacemaking efforts of GATHER and the Goldin Institute.

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