One year ago, three young people were killed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At their funeral, Mohammad Abu-Salha, father of one of the victims, said, “We are not seeking any revenge. Our children are much more valuable than any revenge. When we say that this was a hate crime, it’s all about protecting all other children in the U.S.A.—it is all about making this country that they loved and where they lived and died peaceful for everybody else.”
In that spirit, the Beloved Community organization of Plymouth Canton invites the community to remember the shooting victims, Deah Barakat, his wife Yusor Mohammad, and her sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. The Night of Remembrance and Reflection will be an opportunity to hear how Barakat’s family is using the house he left them, The Light House, as a youth center, and to share feelings and experiences about living in the current political climate.
The Light House was owned by Deah Barakat then inherited by his parents upon his murder; it was a rental property that allowed him a step towards financial independence. Now the family will use the house to further his legacy, and in furtherance of Deah’s wishes to one day support the youth with their projects.
The Light House will host a collaborative study room, a living room, a kitchen, a prayer room that doubles as a multipurpose room, and a handicap accessible restroom. The top floor will be home to a large meeting room, a large office space dedicated to playing the role of an incubator for social entrepreneurship, and an office space for a resource center meant to tackle the more intricate needs of the community.
The Beloved Community was created to do the work of community and coalition building, organizing, advocacy, and education in the Plymouth Canton area. Their goal is to create sustainable change where they live, work, and are educated by confronting systemic and institutional racism.
The Night of Reflection and Remembrance came out of a discussion of the current political climate and a desire to give people a safe place to discuss their feelings. The facilitator will be Yasir Khogali, who will open with a summation of the last year, a description of the Light House project, and setting up some boundaries to ensure a constructive dialogue.
“What we’ve found in the past is that the exchange sort of organically grows, and it grows positively, and the sharing just continues,” says organizer Aamina Ahmed, a member of the Muslim Community Western Suburbs, where the event will be held this Friday, February 12, from 7 – 9 pm. There will be light refreshments, and an opportunity, for those who are interested, to watch the evening prayers at the mosque.
The Beloved Community leadership team includes Aamina Ahmed, George Belvitch, Sommer Foster, Carol Yvette Lewis, Loren Khogali, Bryan Smith, and Steve Spreitzer.
The goal of the discussion and other Beloved Community efforts is, according to their mission statement, to engage community members on topics critical to racial justice by facilitating local opportunities for education, deep reflection and reconciliation. “Using these tools, we will challenge inequity affecting historically marginalized and underserved groups, with the objective of affirming the equality, dignity and worth of every person in our communities.”