On Wednesday, April 12th, nearly 300 people of various professions all doing work with men of color who have been harmed by violence joined together at the third annual “Paving the Way to Healing and Recovery: Revolutionary Healing” conference to discuss promising strategies that promote healing.

The conference began with introductory remarks from Rommell Washington from Crime Victims Treatment Center and Christian Scott from Common Justice who led a healing activity for all present, setting the intention to create a space of healing for the rest of the day.

This was followed by an opening panel moderated by Kevin Nadal, President of the Asian American Psychological Association & Executive Director of CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies, featuring Paul Barrett from Safe Horizon, Anthony Butler from the Kings County DA’s office, Raz from Flex Dance Crew, Andre Ward from Common Justice, and Kevin Quiroz a graduate student at LIU.

The panel focused on the work of each individual, how they participate in revolutionary healing, and visions for the future of victim services for young men of color.

Panelists stressed that people are not inherently violent but perpetrate violence because they have grown up seeing violence as common and normal in their communities. They also discussed the importance of acknowledging that structural violence reinforces and exacerbates interpersonal violence in ways that make it impossible to simply address violence as a problem of individual behavior.

After the panel, Flex Dance Program preformed for attendees, demonstrating how they use dance as a tool for revolutionary healing.

Attendees were then able to choose from a variety of morning and afternoon breakout sessions including:

Denice Martin-Thompson from Passion Filled People, Lindsey Sherwin & Javan Howard from You Are the Shift, RJ Maccani & Gaurav Jashnani from Generation Give, Keston Jones & Saul Rivera from Healthy Start Brooklyn, NYCDOMH, Rommell Washington from Crime Victims Treatment Center, Cordelia Loots-Gollin & Pearl Dick from Healing Hurt People and Project Fire: ArtReach Chicago, David Gaskin & Rahson Johnson from S.O.S., Sebastien Vante from Safe Horizon, Liz Roberts & Lisa O’Connor from Safe Horizon, Saskia Valencia, Anne Oredeko & Charles Nunez from Youth Represent, Dr. Charles C. Edwards, Lisa Good from Urban Grief, Afua Addo from the Center for Court Innovation, Michael Rowe & Bridgette Butler from Healing Works, Ted Bunch from A Call to Men and Jarvis Houston, community organizer.

The day concluded with a powerful spoken word performance from Gabriel Ramirez about redefining masculinity, mental health, trauma, healing, and forgiveness.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this conference! We hope that everyone in attendance came away with new ideas, connections, strategies, tools, and deeper hope for the possibilities of this work. If you are looking for more resources on working with young men of color who have been harmed by violence or want to connect with other service providers, Common Justice has a Healing Works website along with the Make It Happen website where you can find a variety of resources and continue the critical conversations we began at Paving the Way.

Thank you to our sponsors the Center for Court InnovationCrown Heights Community Mediation Center, Common Justice,  Crime Victims Treatment Center, Kings County DA’s Office along with St Francis School for the Deaf for their hospitality and everyone else who made this event possible.