KEEPING GANDHI'S EFFORT ALIVE
Although often criticized, the media is one of the most powerful and effective ways to get a message across to the masses. The folks at the Gandhi Brigade understand that. Founded in 2005 by the late Richard Jaeggi, the nonprofit organization works to help young people in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area learn to use the media to promote the common good while becoming leaders in their communities.
Gandhi Brigade works to honor and keep civil rights activist Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi’s “principles of nonviolence, awareness, and common effort” alive. The Gandhi Brigade consists of programs in which the volunteers learn how to master the following skills: public speaking, community organizing, art and graphic design, video production and photography.
“We want to encourage young people to engage in community issues both from a local perspective and a global perspective,” said program director Ashley Simmons. “We also want to teach them media because this is definitely a tool that’s used to look at those issues. We don’t want to just talk about it; we want them to be active and [out there] doing things with media.”
Some of those issues include social justice, gender and sexuality, immigration reform, teen homelessness, and cyber civility and bullying.
“I heard about Gandhi Brigade through my friends and when I would hear them talking about it, I instantly became interested,” said 16-year-old Satchel Young, a junior at Montgomery Blair High School. “As a volunteer, I have a few different jobs. I participate in the media activities, such as filming and editing [and I take] pictures as well. Also, I help promote Gandhi Brigade by passing out flyers and participating in major events.”
Recognized as a leader in the field of youth led social change in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, the Gandhi Brigade is not only designed to inspire young people to take a stand against social issues that matter to them but to uplift and empower them in their day-to-day lives as well.
“[I love] making video projects on issues in our community,” said 16-year-old Mussie Fitsum, also a junior at Montgomery Blair High School. “It’s a great feeling to know that people will see the work that I did with my friends and see our opinions.”
“The biggest thing I learned during my time with Gandhi Brigade [is] that young people have a voice that needs to be heard,” Mussie said. “These youth groups like Gandhi Brigade can help you project that voice through your community using media.”
YOUTH MEDIA FESTIVAL
The eighth annual Gandhi Brigade Youth Media Festival took place on Sunday, May 31 at the Silver Spring Civic Center. The day-long event included a panel discussion on race, sexuality and religion, personal story and narrative films by area teens, and an art and photo exhibit. Area organizations, including Passion for Learning and Just Kids participated in the festival. Read a statement by executive director Evan Glass for Montgomery County Media here.
Unless otherwise indicated, the following photographs are from the Gandhi Brigade Facebook page:
“We help youth to raise their voices” — Noemi Sanchez
“What this is showing is how we felt when we were locked up” — Kevin, 23, charged as an adult at 15, came home at 19
About the Author: Princess Gabbara is a Michigan-based journalist and freelance writer (Ebony, Essence, etc.) You can read more of her work on her blog. She wasn’t aware that Gandhi was a member of the vegetarian society executive committee while attending University College London until now.