Last year, The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia hosted filmmaker and Pulitzer Center grantee Micah Fink and Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson for a viewing of Fink's film The Abominable Crime at the school and a day-long discussion of social justice.
This year, on the school's second Social Justice Day, the guest of honor was filmmaker and Pulitzer Center grantee Fiona Lloyd-Davies. Her film, Seeds of Hope, details the devastating effects of sexual violence as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the resilience of one group of female survivors.
Students planned a day of discussion, screenings and performances around social justice topics, particularly those explored in Seeds of Hope. Above is the introductory video they produced.
"Rape, rape culture, and rape as a weapon of war are topics of such gravity and implication that we feel it is necessary to do justice to these topics by exploring them critically and in depth for most of the day," one student says in the video.
"We ask that you take today's discussions and activities very seriously and with the utmost maturity," another student says.
"[Rape] is also an issue that is very present locally and in our own school community," adds another.
Jon Sawyer, the Pulitzer Center's executive director, was also on hand for the events at Benjamin Rush last week, along with education director Mark Schulte and contributing editor Kem Knapp Sawyer. "What's important, as one student put it," Jon wrote afterward, "is that 'people become more aware of the rape culture in which we live. We have an advantage here—we have Social Justice Days and talk about things that are wrong in society. I feel like more people should be able to have that experience because maybe eventually something will start to change.'"
Conflict and Peace Building