Cambridge Community Center Youth Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Donated Tickets to a Screening of "Selma"
Author: Cambridge Community Center youth and youth workers
On January 19, 2015 a small group from Cambridge Community Center went to go see the movie ‘Selma.’ The plot was astonishing, depicting an lesser known battle of the Civil Rights Movement. Some of the scenes displayed gruesome images, and the overall message was clear: it had been a trying and, at times, tragic slog towards achieving equality. Seeing the elderly brutally beaten numerous times left a rancid taste in the mouths of both myself and my peers. ‘Selma’ was not an easy movie to watch, but it did come across as an important one to see.
“‘Selma’ was an inspirational and enlightening movie,” said one of the audience members as he reflected on his viewing experience as we rode home from the theater. Prior to seeing the movie, we’d all had small conversations about what we’d heard, seen, and thought about the movie. Some people had seen the trailer and some people knew very little. With expectations extremely high, the film blew us away in unexpected ways. Mixed emotions flew all over the place as the movie progressed. Tears were shed and giggles were quivered as the movie solemnly progressed. “The movie made me think about how people had suffered for their rights,” said another youth after seeing it.
On the bus ride home, many voices spoke over each other about their feelings. No one was untouched by what they had seen, and the movie had everyone thinking about the current racial climate. It was impossible to not connect the Civil Rights movement of the past with the civil rights violations of today. Was it worth it, what Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers had fought for? Did they succeed in attaining their goals? ‘Selma’ is not a movie to be taken lightly. It’s subject is serious and it’s viewpoint unwavering. For all those who see it, it is will be eye opening and unsettling but essential and unforgettable as it was for us.
-Cambridge Community Center youth and youth workers
This is a Martin Luther King Jr. mural uncovered in our art room last year:
And a poster for the film:
Afterword from Executive Director Corinne Espinoza:
Thanks to a generous donation from area African American business leaders, the Cambridge Community Center was able to take a group of 14 to see Selma on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Our group had middle schoolers, high schoolers, a first year college student, their teachers and youth workers. The movie was powerful and difficult to watch. While we know the troubled history of our country, seeing it on the big screen was still startling and elicited reactions ranging the gamut from grief and anger to hope. Led by Kwame Dance, a CCC Board Member and the Director of the Moore Youth Center, we held a debrief with the group afterwards. We went from one word reactions about the movie to making connections between the past and the present. We talked about the future that we want. Our youth talked about racism and inequalities that exist today and discussed what it meant to be a change maker. We ended our talk with a group of youth fired up to talk to the Cambridge City Council about what could be better in our City. Thank you donors, for helping us use art as a tool for social change.
Author: Corinne Espinoza, Interim Executive Director
I write to celebrate a major capital improvement in our building and to thank our donors for the support that made this happen.
A bit of history first: the Cambridge Community Center has been a neighborhood anchor for nearly a century. Our main building dates back to the late 1800s when it was the Tarbell School. The CCC took ownership of the building in 1929. As you can imagine, our floors are worn by 85 years of little feet stomping through hallways, big feet pounding the basketball court and the feet of an army of volunteers serving Thanksgiving dinners, teaching children and more. These sturdy walls bear witness to history - they’ve seen Shirley Chisholm speak, watched the landscape of the City change and served as a backdrop over the years.
So, for me, this old building is beautiful, but to new eyes, I’m sure the wear and tear is viewed differently. We’ve raised money to do exterior repairs and we’re making good progress. Today I am basking in the light of our latest work - we replaced all of our gym windows, which were 70 years old! The windows had become milky with age. One was broken years ago and our routine was to mop up rain from our gym floor every time the skies opened up. In the winter, the gym was cold, because the frigid air just came in wherever it pleased. Now, our windows are clear, pristine, fresh. They improve the look of the outside of our building and they improve the light inside our walls. We’ll be more energy efficient, which will help us keep our doors open for another century.
This project has been funded by over 400 individuals and organizations to date, including many residents of the Riverside neighborhood, in amounts ranging from $1 to $150,000. We thank our generous community: our children, neighbors, Harvard University, The Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, the Cambridge Historical Commission, Cabot Family Charitable Trust and generous individual donors. This renovation is truly a community effort.
We continue to fundraise for our exterior renovation, and we always need support for operations. Harvard employees can select the Cambridge Community Center as the recipient of Harvard Community Gifts here. Other supporters can participate here.
For the beautiful things happening on the inside and outside of our building, thank you, CCC family.
While the bright and warm day Sunday might make any reasonable person think it’s summer, we are indeed firmly in fall - a season of change. Change isn’t always welcome, it isn’t always fun, on the other hand, it can be exactly what we need and it can be beautiful. After many good years at the Cambridge Community Center, I’ve decided to serve as Executive Director of the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS). I’ll be at a new address, but I’ll still be working to support families, build up our neighborhoods and to nurture children who deserve nothing but the best. I’m pleased that Corinne Espinoza, a former CCC parent and a member of its Board of Directors will take over leadership in the interim at the Center while the search for the next Executive Director begins. We will be working together for a smooth transition, to cooperate and see where our agencies can support each other as neighbors. CCC friends and family, this is not goodbye, it’s see you soon!
I love the Cambridge Community Center. Since my family moved to Cambridge in July 2007, the Center has been an integral part of our lives. At the CCC, we’ve broken bread with our teachers and neighbors, made friendships, gotten guidance and grown from the warm sunshine of caring and love that is present in all the staff. This is truly a special place. For five years, my child was in the Out of School Time program; once he aged out, he continued his connection as a teen with The Hip Hop Transformation. Folks who know the Center will understand what I mean when I say that between Miss Erin and R-Jay - someone made sure my child put his winter coat on. Ms. G taught my little one everything from blood and guts to science and cooking. Funders might be more interested to know that my parent connection with the Center expanded to include serving on the CCC Board of Directors, its Budget & Personnel committee and that I have two decades of volunteer and professional experience that will inform this role. I will miss working with David but I know he has important work to do in Somerville, and I know we will have occasion to cooperate. I am thrilled to lend my experience and give back to the place that has given so much to my family over the years. So this is not really “hello” as much as “hello again!”
Author: Amelia Joselow, CCC Director of Marketing and Outreach, Green Program Director, Cambridge Winter Farmers Market co-manager
Some might think of community as a stationary thing- a neighborhood, a community center, or a church. So it’s basically a place right? But what if community is not a tight net of connections in a certain location or among specific people, what if it is a power line you carry with you always, ready to spark and connect with others and plug into the world around you, even with strangers?
In an article in “The Art of Manliness” (don’t be put off by the name, it is actually a blog that tackles many social issues), John Corcoran runs a 21-day experiment of being kind to and making conversation with strangers. What did he find? He felt happier and grateful for having made these connections. He learned interesting things and was able to help others too.
Corcoran was not the first person to test what would happen. Researchers Nicholas Epley and Juliana Schroeder of the University of Chicago studied when the Metra, Chicago’s subway, introduced “quiet cars” where people were not allowed to talk on cellphones and were discouraged from speaking with others. The people they surveyed predicted that they would be happier with a quieter commute, but they were surprised by what they found. In a New York Times article about the experiment Epley writes,
“In experiments we conducted over the last several months, we found the same to be true while commuting. In one experiment, we asked Metra commuters in one group to "enjoy their solitude" and refrain from speaking to other commuters. Others were asked to talk to another passenger. A final group received no instructions. At the end of their ride, these commuters filled out a survey about themselves and the commute.
The results? Commuters asked to interact with other passengers reported having the most pleasant commute. Commuters asked to enjoy their solitude reported the least pleasant commute. The pleasure of conversation was not just restricted to friendly people; we found the same results among introverts and extroverts.”
At the end of his article Epley implores readers to try reaching out to others, and this is what John Corcoran did in his own 21-day experiment. In his blog Corcoran included some short stories from his experience:
“Friday, May 9th, a hotel pool, Calabasas, CA. While visiting my family hometown for a wedding, I encounter a man sitting on the side of the hotel pool as I am about to go swimming with my son. He has a small white dog that my son pets and we start talking. It turns out he’s just moved to the area with his family from Chicago. I tell him what I know about the community, the schools, and particular neighborhoods where he’s looking to buy a home.
He’s appreciative for my advice on the local high school, the same school I graduated from.
How I Felt: The interaction makes me feel useful and valuable. His daughter is about to enter my old high school and he seems relieved when I tell him it was a good school.”
Corcoran does say that there are barriers to reaching out, and offers some suggestions: “put down you iPhone and other device,” “wear a conversation starter,” (which apparently first female Secretary of State Madeleine Albright did with broaches) “offer a compliment,” and “seize your conversation opportunities immediately.” The results, according these studies and stories, are worth it.
So how about that, huh? Many times a day we find ourselves around strangers- walking down the street, waiting for the bus, sitting on the subway, in line at the grocery store- and out of habit we keep to ourselves. It takes effort to reach out. In this last story, Corcoran reached out as a part of his experiment to feel happier, but he also had a positive impact on this stranger’s life. And isn’t that what community is all about? Being connected to others and having a positive influence on each other?
So what does “carrying community with you” mean? Just that idea, that we could connect with those around us if we wanted to, and we could make our lives happier by doing so. So if you could build community wherever you go, if you could make the world a happier place with just a few words or a short conversation, well... why not try it out?
Author: Darrin Korte, Director of Out-of-School Time Programs, The Hip Hop Transformation Program Director
From its inception, hip hop music and culture has represented the voice of a movement. The descendant of spirituals, jazz, blues, and rock, hip hop has evolved through constant innovation to become arguably the most passionate art form in our society today. While many people only think of rap music when they think of hip hop, hip hop culture takes the form of many different genres such as dance, graffiti, DJaying, and fashion. At its core, hip hop still carries this history and message of unity with it. However, due to many outside forces and influences, hip hop has developed an image as being hyper violent, misogynistic, and anti social leading many to believe that hip hop is a negative influence on the youth who consume it.