Phelps Stokes’ Programs for Latin America and the Caribbean launched the second cycle of the International Legal Clinics Seminars in Bogota and Quibdó, Colombia during the week of October 10. These seminars conducted in conjunction with Howard University Law School and the Fulbright Commission-Colombia and sponsored by USAID-Colombia, aim to share the US experience during the Civil Rights Movement with Afro-Colombian university students throughout Colombia. Presenters discussed the history of the US Civil Rights Movement and how any lessons learned during that time might be applicable to the Colombian context, or not. The seminars also included a leadership development component which focuses on “Leadership for Social Change.”
Among other exercises and activities, participants were asked to select a social issue and depict it using a combination of Legos, pipe cleaners, and various other items. Following that activity they were asked to depict their vision of that problem resolved using the same materials. Above are photos of some of the creations that were developed. Issues of corruption, environmental degradation, education, and health were all issues that were mentioned in the context of Colombian society and in particular in Afro-Colombian communities.
Students participating in the Bogota seminar hailed from San Andres/Providencias, Chocó, Tumaco, and other parts of Colombia. Students participating in the Quibdó seminars hailed from all parts of Chocó. The next installment of the seminars will take place in the spring in Cali and Cartagena, Colombia.
Juan Manuel Santos Image via Wikipedia
According to an article on ColombiaReports.com, Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos announced the creation of a bill that will support the fair treatment of Afro-Colombians. The Law of Equal Opportunities for Afro-Colombian Peoples will present the bill to congress on July 20, 2011. July 20th marks Colombia’s Independence Day and the beginning of a new parliamentary year. The government first made steps to criminalize racism in November of 2010. Individuals convicted of racism would have to spend up to six months in jail or pay a fine of $4,000.
Many Afro-Colombians live in poverty and don’t have access to proper education. The situation in Colombia is reminiscent of a 1950s America. Santos feels that it is Colombia’s duty to right the wrongs of the past. Santos has also created a program entitled, “The Presidential Program for the Integral Development of Black Communities.” The program will be dedicated to finding resolutions to help mediate the problems facing Afro-Colombians.
For more information about this topic visit http://ColombiaReports.com.
By The Phelps Stokes Team
This is My Territory is an Afro-Colombian group consisting of 27 members. It is a group of young people who once struggled with hunger, violence, homelessness, but they have all come together to create music. They believe that music is an apt medium to spread their message and the central message is that they are fighting for their land. With no place to call home, many young adults live like nomads in Colombia.
The band was created last December at an urban music festival. The event was created to allow youths the opportunity to speak out against the violence in Buenaventura. Buenaventura acts as a haven for those displaced by violence between illegal armed groups. There are about 75,500 displaced Colombians living in Buenaventura.
The family structure in Colombia has been affected as a result of the violence. One of the group members was displaced in 2006, he expressed that it was easier to leave his home than to fight off the rebels. The displaced youths have had a limited education and struggle on a daily basis. Never admitting defeat, the young people are rallying to work in the building of homes and public projects to further establish a community.
For more information about This is My Territory, visit www.trust.org.