Something different is planned this month at the All Souls Church film series — a live event on Sunday, Oct. 28, instead of a film.
The church will host Mark Hughes, leader of “40 Days of Fire,” which he describes as “a statewide racial justice community organizing campaign designed to educate and empower folks to participate in this important work in Vermont.”
The event will be the October offering in the church’s ongoing program “Looking Inward at White Power and Privilege.” A free light lunch will be served at 11:30 and the free program will start at noon.
Mark Hughes is the co-founder and Executive Director of Justice For All VT (JFA), which he describes as a grassroots organization that peruses racial justice within Vermont’s criminal justice system through advocacy, education, and relationship building. JFA is a member of the Vermont Human Rights Council among other coalitions.
The organizations’s “40 Days of Fire” campaign is a joint effort with “Rights and Democracy,” a Vermont organization designed to build a popular movement to “to advance rights and build a real democracy,” according to its website.
In his information about the 40 Days campaign, Hughes said, “There has been an aggressive and persistent political assault across this nation (including Vermont), fueled with race baiting and based in white nationalism . At the same time Vermont, not unlike the rest of the nation, is undergirded in systemic racism and challenged with overt racism. 40 Days of Fire is a statewide racial justice community organizing initiative designed for two purposes: to electorize the fight against the current use of racial dog whistles in discourse and debate by educating and empowering folks to break their silence and; to enlist Vermonters to learn more about and engage in our ongoing efforts in the fight against overt and systemic racism in Vermont.”
40 Days of Fire events are scheduled in several places across Vermont. Hughes describes the campaign as a “statewide racial justice community organizing initiative kicking off in October. Events held all over the state will enlist Vermonters to learn more about and engage in our ongoing efforts in the fight against overt and systemic racism in Vermont. We will also mobilize voters to take a stand against racial pandering in politics.”
The 40 Days of Fire initiative offers Vermonters in all communities an opportunity to host and participate in training and empowerment sessions, conduct workshops, register to vote and participate in voter engagement opportunities, and directly confront candidates and elected officials on the issues of racial justice and the rights of those in traditionally marginalized communities, he said.
In 2017 JFA founded the Racial Justice Reform Coalition, a 30-organization coalition that went on to orchestrate the successfully passage of Act 54, Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel in 2017 and in 2018, Act 9, an Act created for statewide mitigation of systemic racism. Mark is former Tri-Chair of the Vermont Coordinating Committee of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call For Moral Revival, former Vice-chair of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel and serves on the Board of Directors of Rights and Democracy (c4). He is a retired from the military where he specialized in cryptography and has had an extensive career in cyber security. An Iowa native, he has resided in Vermont for the past nine years. Among his affiliations are the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War and the ACLU.
More information about the campaign is available at the Justice For All website at http://justiceforallvt.org/2018/09/25/40-days-of-fire/.