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Faith Leaders Prepare for Moral Monday at The Borderland

El Paso, TX – In response to the crisis at the southern border and following the invitation of faith leaders in Texas, multi-faith and denominational leaders are spiritually preparing for Moral Monday at the Borderlands, July 28 and 29 in El Paso, TX. The two-day event includes a mass meeting on Sunday, July 28 at 7:00 p.m. MST (at First Christian Church, 901 Arizona Avenue in El Paso), and a nonviolent moral direct action on Monday, July 29 at 10:00 a.m. MST (beginning at All Saints Episcopal Church). Hundreds of clergy, faith leaders, and members of Congress have been invited to participate.

“We are going to El Paso to speak to the heart conscience of this nation,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “Through our bodies, our voices and our prophetic witness, we will cry aloud and we will not relent until children are free and families are whole.”

Moral Monday at the Borderlands was organized by Repairers of the Breach, Border Network for Human Rights, Define American, Religious Action Center, Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, Union for Reform Judaism and others. In addition to persons directly impacted by our nations immoral immigration system, event speakers include the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II (Repairers of the Breach), Imam Omar Suleiman (Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, Faith Forward Dallas), Ambassador Jenn Budd (Define American), Rev. Terri Hord Owens (Christian Church/Disciples of Christ), Rabbi Rick Jacobs (Union for Reform Judaism), and Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner (Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Summit, NJ).

In explaining their decision to organize and participate in the moral witness, the faith leaders offered the following remarks:

“To free us from the infection of division and hate, the politicking that punishes the poor, cages children, and grinds many in the cogs of capitalism as a means to political gain, we are going to the borderlands,” said the Rev. Dr. Robin Tanner, Minister Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation Summit, NJ.  “We are going to El Paso to hear the urgings of a God known as Love, a God who does not choose political parties, but proclaims that the last shall be first.”

“Right now we have two choices, one would be to turn our backs to vulnerable, desperate families fleeing from violence and seeking a new beginning, accepting the criminalization and rejection of those families, or to face this challenge with bravery, empathy and open arms, knowing that these families are intrinsically connected to our future in America and that the US/Mexico border is the new Ellis Island of our times,” said Fernando Garcia, Border Network for Human Rights.

“These children have not just been separated from their families, but from their human family,” said Imam Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. “They are our children, and their families are our families. We cannot allow them to suffocate in silence and be stored away in these immoral camps and warehouses.”

“I’m being summoned to El Paso this weekend because I worship a God who is impatient with injustice, and insistent that ‘the stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as your citizens; [and that we must] love the stranger as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33-34),” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, who represents the largest, most diverse movement in Jewish life. “My faith requires me, with every fiber of my being, to oppose the inhumane conditions in which infants and children and their parents are being held – in overcrowded cage-like facilities, without diapers, forced to sleep on concrete floors, and to go without soap or showers for weeks; this disgraceful policy of deliberate cruelty is a moral affront to the values upon which this great country was founded.”

“We are not going to stop until these policies stop,” Imam Omar Suleiman, of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research concluded. “We won’t sleep until children can dream again. To engage these places directly is to insist that the status quo is unacceptable.”

“When we leave El Paso, we want to be authentic of our critique and in our witness in this way: there is a text that says when God called Ezekiel in the midst of the exile, he told Ezekiel to lay down for seven days in front of the people,” said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Repairers of the Breach and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign. “I’ve studied the scripture and as I have looked at it, I have come to understand that the reason Ezekiel was instructed to lay down in front of the people, was because he had to feel, experience and pay attention to the people so the prophetic word he articulated the audible moans and groans of the people. In this way, our voice isn’t just ours alone; we are responsible for amplifying the voice of the people. Our voices, our bodies and our witness will be authentic in everything that we do.”

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Contact: Jennifer Farmer, jenniferr@spotlightpr.org

In Directorial Debut, Filmmaker Jodi Gomes Urges A Closer Look at Standardized Tests Following the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal

In Directorial Debut, Filmmaker Jodi Gomes Urges A Closer Look at Standardized Tests Following the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal; Highlights Unrealistic Pressure Facing Educators

Gomes’ Documentary, One Child Left Behind, to Premiere Friday, June 14 in Miami

Atlanta, GA – One Child Left Behind, the heart-wrenching documentary by filmmaker Jodi Gomes on the 2009 Atlanta Public School scandal, is a searing indictment of high stakes testing and the pressure such tests place on students, parents and educators alike. Set to premiere Friday, June 14 at 3:50 p.m. ET at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) in Miami, Fla., the film marks Gomes’ directorial debut. The press junket for the film is at 11:15 a.m. in the Loews/Sun Dial Room.

One Child Left Behind exposes how the No Child Left Behind Act failed underserved communities,” said Jodi Gomes, acclaimed showrunner, filmmaker and the director. “One-size-fits all testing is an outdated mandate that fails to account for the social and economic disparities plaguing students across the U.S. The focus should be on how to address root causes of cheating, the harms of teaching to the tests, and crisis of underfunded public schools.”

Gomes takes us behind the headlines and into the lives of the educators and administrators implicated in the case. She highlights uncomfortable but necessary questions such as, “shouldn’t the No Child Left Behind policy have been on the stand too?” and “what if the law overstated the teachers’ involvement and understated the U.S. Department of Education’s culpability?”

Jodi Gomes is an award-winning documentarian, filmmaker and showrunner. One Child Left Behind: The Untold Atlanta Cheating Scandal is her directorial debut. She previously produced The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty (2009), Married to Medicine (2013), Laffapalooza, etc.

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Jennifer Farmer at jenniferr@spotlightpr.org.

 

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