CCPJ Annual Report
Updated: Jul 8, 2020
COVERING EVENTS FROM MAY 2019 THROUGH APRIL 2020
Each year at this time we thank our membership and tell you how your support and contributions to the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice have helped CCPJ maintain our strong tradition of nonviolent advocacy for peace and justice. During the past 12 months, we have continued that tradition with annual events and special projects in collaboration with other groups.
Every year our work goes forward in the context of local, national, and global events that determine both needs and opportunities. The past year, especially the past five or six months, have not been normal. Major historical forces have brought deep change to our society. Throughout this period, CCPJ has continued in the hope that together we can move our community and our nation toward greater peace and justice.
In May of 2019 we planned our annual Community Gathering as usual. We also discussed ideas for the International Day of Peace, including collaboration with the Interfaith March for Peace and Justice, a national and global effort that has a local chapter.
Members of CCPJ also spoke at a rally to urge the Charlottesville City Council to divest from fossil fuel and weapons companies. In April CCPJ had supported this divestment drive with a donation to help with publicity. The effort was successful! The Charlottesville City Council voted to divest from all entities involved in the production of fossil fuels or in the production of weapons of any size, from nuclear to handguns.
In another May tradition, members gathered for a mailing party to fold, insert in envelopes, seal, and label our Annual Report.
In June we held our Annual Community Gathering in the fellowship hall at Westminster Presbyterian, a major event each year that gives activists busily working on their own issues a chance to meet and network with activists on other issues. Thirty-seven organizations shared the purposes and activities of their work. At the beginning of the presentations we recognized that the scope of the problems we face transcends old, worn political categories. Systemic racism, economic injustice, fear and hatred intensified to acts of violence, climate change, militarism all present a massive challenge.
We recognized that we are running out of time and need a leader who has a vision of the challenges confronting us. We then recognized that in the aggregate we are that leader. Not as single individuals but as a chorus of voices each expressing aspects of the problems in front of us, we can insist that meaningful change begin now.
In June we also learned that the “Walk in My Shoe Closet” art experience project to help people enter the consciousness of being LGBTQ was ready for exhibit. CCPJ had helped this project with start-up funds in March.
In July we held our annual organizational meeting, electing five members to serve on the CCPJ board and reviewing our finances for the prior calendar year. We made plans for our annual Hiroshima / Nagasaki remembrance in early August. We voted to support Virginia Organizing with a donation, as we have for many years. Planning continued for the September 22 Interfaith March for Peace and Justice with the focus on a march around the Downtown Mall.
On July 9 members of CCPJ joined with local groups from the Charlottesville Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention, Moms Demand Action, the League of Women Voters, and others to rally at the Capitol in Richmond in support of gun safety legislation at the special session of the General Assembly called by the governor. Participants urged legislators to bring gun legislation to the floor for a vote. The Republican-led Senate and House of Delegates adjourned within ninety minutes without acting on any legislation.
In August we commemorated the bombings of Hiroshima / Nagasaki on the Downtown Mall, with our large eight-panel display of news stories, photographs, and posters depicting the effects of nuclear weapons. CCPJ members also handed out more than 270 flyers to those stopping to view the exhibit. On the day before our effort, the Trump administration formally withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which heightened the possibilities of nuclear war. Members of a new Charlottesville group affiliated with the Friends Committee for National Legislation explained their overall purpose and sought support for a campaign to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force.
On August 12, CCJP members represented associated organizations, the Living Wage Coalition of Central Virginia and Moms Demand Action, at Unity Days Charlottesville, part of a commemoration of the events of August 16 & 17, 2017.
CCPJ members voted to provide some start-up funds for a new Activist's Guide web site, which would provide a list of organizations, a joint calendar of events, and a list of services available. Members continued a discussion of the urgent need to act on the Climate Crisis individually while at the same time pushing for government to act. Addressing this need brought out the problem of reaching people not already part of the activist community. Members authorized the CCPJ president to work with other environmental groups to develop a program of personal response to the Climate Crisis.
On September 21 we honored the International Day of Peace with the making of Peace Flags on the Downtown Mall. CCPJ provided the materials and people young and old provided the creativity. The following day, CCPJ members carried our banner in the Interfaith March for Peace and Justice. This march coordinated with marches across the U.S. and globally.
On September 28 we tabled at the Vegan Roots Festival in Washington Park. At the festival we displayed the long string of Flags of Persistence sent to us by a group in Connecticut in 2017. Members also handed out literature, answered questions, gave away buttons and bumper stickers, added names to our e-mail list, and were soaked by a thunderstorm.
In October and November members planned CCPJ’s annual No War Toys campaign, which urges people to choose peaceful holiday gifts for family, friends, and especially the children in their lives, and to avoid toys that show using weapons as the first choice to settle conflicts. To spread this message CCPJ purchased airtime on 94.7 WPVC and on Z95 to play public service announcements, which began airing the week before Thanksgiving and continued through the holiday shopping season. On November 23, at the entrance to Walmart on Hilton Heights Rd., members of CCPJ were joined by members of the Charlottesville Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention in our annual No War Toys demonstration. Holding signs and waving at passers-by, we urged shoppers to purchase only creative toys, not war toys.
At our monthly meetings, our representative to the Living Wage Coalition of Central Virginia reported on the coalition's recognition of local employers who pay at least $15 per hour, and the University of Virginia’s progress with 96% of their staff at or above a living wage and work begun to provide a living wage to contract workers as well.
In December after hearing reports on the efforts of Cville100, a coalition of 18 environmental activist organizations, members voted that CCPJ seek membership in that coalition. We saw this action as a first step in our program for personal engagement to address the Climate Crisis.
On December 14, the anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, members from CCPJ joined with people from the Charlottesville Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention and others for a vigil on the Downtown Mall to remember the many victims of mass shootings.
In January CCPJ officially joined Cville100. We developed plans to focus our efforts on urging all people, both inside and outside the activist community, to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 5 years. Other organizations in Cville100 focused on legislative agendas and on raising awareness of specific issues.
Continuing our efforts to reduce gun violence, members planned with the Charlottesville Coalition for Gun Violence Prevention a January 20 bus ride to Richmond for the annual Martin Luther King Day Vigil and Rally. The rally was cancelled when thousands of gun rights activists planned to gather in force at the capitol on that day. The possibility of violence led the governor to ban all weapons from the capitol grounds and request that all people avoid the area.
In February and March CCPJ members voted to affiliate with the World Beyond War organization. We planned a radio campaign leading up to Earth Day that would urge individuals to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in 5 years. The 60-second spot was written and recorded. We also planned to march in the Dogwood Festival and Batesville Day parades. We received reports on the renovation of our web site and that the Activist's Guide website was preparing to roll out a list of organizations, followed by a list of services and a joint calendar. Members discussed visions of CCPJ’s future use of new media to extend our message of peace with justice to more people. Our March 1 meeting was the last in-person meeting we held so far this year.
In April members of CCPJ held our first virtual meeting, as the COVID-19 pandemic compelled a general stay-at-home mandate. After making sure that everyone was in good physical and economic health, we recognized that events we had planned for the spring and early summer had to be postponed or cancelled. Members reported that renovations to the CCPJ web site continued and that the Activist's Guide web site was nearing completion. We devoted the rest of the meeting to questions about how the pandemic was transforming and could transform our society. A great divide had been set between the pre-pandemic and post-pandemic world.
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Almost no one living has experienced a crisis like this COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis challenges our vision of the scale of the problems we face and our determination to take effective action. The glaring light of reality in this pandemic has shown the great depth of flaws in our health care, economic, social, and political systems. Racial disparities in COVID-19 infections and fatalities show the persistent racism in our country. Workers we now see as essential have long been underpaid and exploited. Failures of leadership result in suffering and death. These lessons also apply to the looming crises of climate change, violence used to exploit others domestically or internationally, the breaking of treaties and agreements that were created to prevent war, and disrespect for the rule of law. One ray of hope we have learned from the COVID-19 crisis is that people are capable of changing how they do things when they are aware of imminent danger.
The time frame for this Annual Report ends before the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent nationwide protests against racist police brutality. With every new report of a police killing comes a more urgent call to unite with others to bring peace and justice to our nation. The task lies before us like never before. And so does the opportunity to effect positive change.
For 37 years the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice has been a determined, persistent, nonviolent advocate for peace and justice. Nonviolence is a way of life that contrasts sharply with the many wrongs we oppose: economic impoverishment, racism, bigotry, environmental destruction, arbitrary cruelty in our justice systems, social divisiveness, gun violence, and war itself. We have much work to do on these issues in the coming year and beyond. We welcome your involvement.