L-R: CHRISTIAN WEARS PUFFER JACKET VERSACE, HOODIE ECKHAUS LATTA, ACID-WASH JEANS FENG CHAN WANG, BADGES HIS OWN, TRAINERS ASICS. NIA WEARS WRAP DRESS REJINA PYO, HOOP EARRINGS, BASGE HER OWN, LACE-UP BOOTS COACH 1941, PHOTOGRAPHY RYAN MCGINLEY, STYLING EMMA WYMAN. PHOTO, CAPTION, AND STYLING FOR DAZEDDIGITAL.COM.
By Symone Saul
Every year, the Thomas Merton Center (TMC) has honored local, transformative activists who are creating lasting change in Pittsburgh and beyond with the New Person Award. More than ever, youth are stepping up into their undeniable roles as game-changers in society. They are gracefully, passionately and urgently shaking the system down with trembling force to activate the promises that past generations have yet to deliver on. They have proven that youth have the fire to carry the torch of justice, progress, and revolution. And none in Pittsburgh are more alight with tenacity than the burning flame of the Youth Power Collective.
Co-founders Nia Arrington and Christian Carter will accept the New Person of the Year award as the Youth Power Collective. Their campaign started in 2017, leading the school walkouts in response to Betsy Devos’ appointment as Secretary of Education and again after the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Since then, they’ve organized for student rights in Pittsburgh Public Schools and Point Park University, as well as working with nationwide coalitions of other Black-led student advocacy groups demanding change on a systemic level. They played a pivotal role in organizing, rallying, and mobilizing during the Antwon Rose II protests.
Nia asks us to “Imagine a country that comes together as a community and shows one another love despite our many differences. Imagine a country that listens to their youth and follows them into the future. It just might change our lives.” The Thomas Merton Center hopes you’ll join us in following their lead, supporting young People of Color and showing gratitude for the Youth Power Collective’s transformational work.
This year, the annual New Person of the Year Award will take place online and will be supplemented with an in-person event as soon as it is safe to do so.
For nearly 50 years, we’ve gathered together to celebrate the powerful mission of the Thomas Merton Center and help sustain the Center through fundraising events such as the New Person of Year Award. This year, we’re excited to meet with you all online, through a mixed-media live broadcast which will include the Award presentation to the Youth Power Collective, as well as music, panel discussions, and other celebrations of past, present and future TMC members, actions and victories! We hope you will take part by sending us your photos, videos, and memories of all things TMC! We’re asking all our supporters to submit pre-recorded content to share with our friends and neighbors – protest songs, interviews with well-known social justice workers, testimonials, archived footage, and whatever else you can think of! We’re here to assist with technical needs at info@ThomasMertonCenter.org.
Just because we’re social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t be social! Send us a video about why you love the TMC or show us what social justice work you’re involved in!
Additionally, we’ll be offering even more fun and comprehensive sponsorships and advertising opportunities to make your donations go farther than ever before! We’re all in this together and need every one of you to keep Pittsburgh’s Peace and Social Justice Center alive and strong! All donations before and during this event will go towards finding needed office space, repairs for the East End Community Thrift store, and the continued work of the Thomas Merton Center and its many campaigns and projects, including this NewPeople newspaper.
As chair of the Events Committee, Symone Saul conjures magical celebrations from your feedback, participation and expertise.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 50 No. 4. May/June, 2020. All rights reserved.