BAY-Peace was established on a sunny afternoon in the summer of 2007 at a Fruitvale District cafe, when a Navy veteran, a former high school teacher, a college student, a high school student and a middle school student came together to build BAY-Peace as an independent organization. The US war on Iraq was on the rise and low-income youth of color were being heavily targeted by aggressive military recruiters. Our goal was to mobilize Oakland youth to expand the “truth in recruiting” work we had already been doing for two years as “Alternatives to War through Education” (AWE) under the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.
BAY-Peace began by providing social justice youth leadership development and offering school-based truth in recruiting presentations that reached thousands of Oakland youth each year. Over time, we have broadened our focus to respond to the many critical issues raised by youth in the community.
How we've transformed
Over the years, BAY-Peace has grown into a flourishing resistance arts and social justice program that presents spoken word and musical performances, creative youth-made videos, youth-led theater of the oppressed workshops on all the issues listed above, and many others. Simultaneously, we offer a solid social justice vocational program, and now integrate healing approaches to help deal with the trauma that so many of our youth experience.
We have continued to expand our analysis of structural violence and institutional racism to expose the many interconnected forms of militarism that disproportionately impact youth of color through wars at home as well as abroad. For example:
The government spends more on military recruiting than on the entire budgets of all other youth job training programs combined. And Trump now wants to shut down programs like Americorps all together!
The militarization of our schools has led to so many tragic school shootings by police and armed security guards,
Our borders have been increasingly militarized, with deportations hitting record levels under the Obama administration, and repression of immigrants now taking dangerous new directions under Trump, and
Police in our communities are now equipped with deadly military weaponry care of homeland security. The list goes on…