The Justice and Beyond Kiddie Corner was the brainchild of one of our co-founders. The pillars – the decision-making body of Justice and Beyond who represent organizations – thought it would be a great way to attract parents of young children to our regular Monday forums at Cafe Istanbul in the Healing Center. Chuck Perkins, the gracious owner of Cafe Istanbul, assured us that our kid plans were fine with him.
Justice and Beyond is a coalition of leaders, organizations, and individuals formed 6 years ago with a mission to empower its members and advocate for justice and righteousness for all peoples.
Our Illustrious Co-founder, freed from his responsibilities as moderator, even volunteered to mind the children – though he said he wasn’t very good at it. My chuckle over that image – a great big man on the floor, doing his best to delight little ones – prompted me to set up the Kiddie Corner. We at Justice and Beyond are, after all, into breaking down stereotypes as we confront Entergy, advocate for prison reform, stand with our environmentally threatened neighbors, and learn from each other about history, racism, and organizing.
The children of Justice and Beyond, 6 or 8 of them at any one gathering, have amazed me. They range in age from barely toddling to pre-teen. They don’t know each other and they don’t yet know me. As many arrive with their fathers as with their mothers. They play quietly together. We’ve had no fights and no tears so far. They’ll curl up on my lap as we read a book. And when it’s time to stop, they help me put things away. Progressive parents, you have done yourselves proud!
For the first meeting the kids were behind the curtain to the right of the stage with their art supplies, clay, Lincoln logs, and books. But now we’re going to try pulling back the curtain so the older children can listen in and the younger ones like little Olie – presenter Oliver Thomas’ 2-year-old – can get their daddy or mommy fix whenever they need to.
We also figure we adults have something to learn from the little ones. To keep the adults in order we have our Code of Conduct, index cards for questions, and an array of talented moderators, the youngest of whom is an impressive 13-year-old. Still, you have to be ready for anything.
The tiny community will be a constant reminder of how much fun and how productive it is to play well with others. And could we even dream of setting a bad example with trusting little eyes looking on? Of course not!
Come see for yourself. Join us in the New Year at Cafe Istanbul in the Healing Center 2372 St. Claude Ave. at 4:45 on Mondays (except for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) for a good meal and an informative program. Feel free also to step over to the side from time to time and play with the children.
Pastor Gregory Manning, Sylvia McKenzie, Trevor David Bryan, and Orissa Arend