The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center has announced the winners of its 12th annual Peace Awards and invites the community to a virtual ceremony this weekend that will recognize the local and international winners, each of whom have demonstrated exemplary commitments to furthering the cause of peace and social justice.
A local group dedicated to advancing social justice causes and creating a culture of peace through advocacy and community building, the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center has selected Rossmoor resident and founder of a Black Lives Matter Committee Mary Taylor as the winner of its Local Hero for Peace award, and the Black Alliance for Peace as the recipient of its International Hero for Peace award.
"Our annual Peace Awards provide a fundraising opportunity for the center as well as a chance for the community to honor the hard work of those making an impact through their dedication to peace activism," center staff said in a statement.
Set to be held this Saturday (Jan. 23), the virtual celebration will feature keynote addresses from awardees, a special Peace Center retrospective historical video, a raffle fundraiser, as well as time for small group discussion and mingling via breakout sessions.
Representing Contra Costa County for the Local Hero for Peace award, Taylor is the founder of the Black Lives Matter Committee of the African American and Friends Club in Walnut Creek's Rossmoor community.
"Mary Taylor has taken an active lead this year organizing in her community by organizing numerous rallies & educational guest speaker events that served to raise awareness around issues of racial and social justice," center officials said in a statement.
Also taking the time to recognize global efforts to further social justice causes, the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) has won the organization's coveted International Hero for Peace selection for 2020.
"BAP concentrates its efforts on opposing the U.S. war agenda and other projects of militarism abroad through educational activities, movement support, and awareness building. They also work to raise awareness about the link between global militarism and the state-sanctioned repression Black and Brown communities face domestically," staff said.
BAP will be represented at the ceremony by two lead organizers, Margaret Kimberley and Bilal Ali.
The ceremony will also allow guests to converse with one another via discussion groups, providing participants with the opportunity to engage with one another in ways previously unavailable due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"There has been a lot of turmoil and uncertainty over the past year -- but what has been strikingly universal -- has been the lack of spaces/opportunity for connection with others. Many of us have hunkered down and limited in-person interactions with others for safety reasons, and as a result have been missing the connection we have with others," Andrew Kodama, the center's executive director, said in a statement.
"Oftentimes, webinars without a discussion component can feel impersonal -- and we want to combat this," they added.
Tickets purchases cost $25 per person and include a "Peace Glass package" that includes a raffle ticket, student postcards and commemorative 12th annual Peace Awards drinking glass. Information on how to receive a Peace Glass package will follow upon registration.
The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center's 12th annual Peace Awards ceremony will be held Saturday (Jan. 23) from 4-5:30 p.m. Residents can register online at the group's officials website.