March 19, 2015
Box 2249 Iqaluit, MA 02133
Johnetta Elzie, curator "This is the Movement" DeRay McKesson, founder, "This is the Movement" Jabari Asim, editor, The Crisis
PEN NEW ENGLAND and CAMBRIDGE FORUM honor JOHNETTA ELZIE and DeRAY McKESSON, activists and citizen journalists, with PEN NEW ENGLAND's 2015 Howard Zinn Freedom to Write Award. As organizers and bloggers in the Ferguson protest movement, their reporting and "This Is the Movement" newsletter engaged and unified disparate voices in the wake of the August 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri.
Their newsletter, "This Is The Movement," reported on local and national calls to action, relevant news and information, and narrated the real, "on the ground" story of the protest. Their activism focused an enraged community and helped transform a cycle of tragedies into a movement, working to make sure the world does not forget the names Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and countless others. JABARI ASIM, editor-in-chief of The Crisis, leads this discussion of the role of citizen journalism and activism. What role did Elzie and McKesson expect to play in Ferguson? How did their expectations change as their actual role evolved? How does citizen journalism give voice to the unheard, and take control of one's own narrative? What are the lessons for other citizens and activists?