This traveling campaign wants to help communities fight injustice with creativity

Baltimore residents protest the death of Freddie Gray on May 1, 2015.
Image: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The people are coming together, and they’re using creativity and social media to be heard.

A new initiative called The People’s Campaign is raising money on GoFundMe to travel to 15 states across the U.S. that are “overcoming injustice, but are no longer in the national spotlight.” The campaign hopes to combine digital storytelling and social justice activism to support and reinvigorate these communities deeply impacted by racism and violence.

“I felt it would be effective to continue the dialogue about these communities,” campaign creator Cyrus Aaron said. “The reality of prejudice is not limited to the acts that get our attention. It is in the attitudes that don’t.”

“The reality of prejudice is not limited to the acts that get our attention. It is in the attitudes that don’t.”

While Aaron chose locations that have been epicenters of racial violence, The People’s Campaign plans to cover injustice across the board.

In each state, the six-person “street team” of videographers, photographers and digital-savvy assistants will join community organizers and activists to shed light on local problems and solutions. They’ll also help organize local events to promote solidarity and empowerment.

Before leaving an area, the team will create digital content using platforms like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat to help sustain activist work and community engagement in the area.

Aaron and his team will also allocate a $10,000 donation to serve an immediate need in the community.

Image: The People’s Campaign

The People’s Campaign, which officially launched its GoFundMe on March 8, has a sizable financial goal of raising $150,000 by April 15. The team plans to begin its journey in New York City this May.

If the campaign doesn’t reach its financial goal, however, Aaron plans to use any funds to travel to as many states as possible.

“I cant stress it enough that everyone has a part to play in this campaign.”

Aaron who is a playwright, poet and author created the initiative after his play, Someday, closed after its initial run. The play tackles racism, bias and violence against the black community, which are also the themes that drew him to choose the 15 locations for The People’s Campaign.

Aaron said he had mixed emotions after closing Someday pride for producing his first play, but also a sense of dissatisfaction. He wasn’t ready to let the topics of injustice go, feeling like there was more work to do.

“I thought to myself, ‘You had the attention of hundreds of people and you just let them go. You gave them a lot to think about, but nothing to act on,'” he said. “I was sitting in my apartment wondering, ‘Now what?’ the same question you have after you leave a march or after you make a donation.”

Aaron wanted to figure out a way to engage with communities and channel their power into productive change. He started thinking about the popularity of entertainment and storytelling, wishing to channel that passion into action.

“Our population is more than 300 million,” he said. “More than 100 million watched the Super Bowl this year. Netflix had around 50 million subscribers in the U.S. at the end of last year. My vision is to use this space that has been reserved for entertainment to inform and activate. We’re connected in a way that our predecessors would’ve loved to incorporate into their strategy.”

Aaron and The People’s Campaign street team will be documenting their journey and creative projects with the hashtag #SomedayMustCome. The creativity that comes of the resources provided by The People’s Campaign is then truly up to the community. That, Aaron said, is how it should be.

“I can’t stress it enough that everyone has a part to play in this campaign,” he said. “It’s all hands on deck.”

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