UN International Day of Peace event at AU calls to #wagepeace

AU alumni win Ray Chambers grant to plan kickoff educational event on Sept. 21

In honor of the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, AU alumni Amanda Brenner and Amanda Molina will host a 24 hour nonviolence kickoff event on campus to benefit D.C. middle and high school students on Sept. 21.

Called #wagepeace, the event’s name and purpose pay tribute to  President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 AU commencement speech. In his commencement speech, Kennedy urged the School of International Service class of 1963 to wage peace on all problems and inequalities facing the graduating class. Both stressed the importance of the word “wage” being a constantly active verb.

“The themes in his message [are] about waging peace and actually caring about what’s going on,” Molina said. “You know it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you’re in a community you should know what’s going on in that community and want to take part specifically if your brothers and sisters are suffering injustice.” 

Brenner and Molina received this opportunity after the School of International Service 2016 commencement speaker Ray Chambers, who serves as a member of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, announced a competition for a $100,000 grant during his address. The grant was to be used for 24 hours of non-violence on Sept. 21, the U.N.’s International Day of Peace, by hosting an event or other proposals.

Brenner and Molina each applied to the competition and both won due to similarities in their International Day of Peace proposals. Brenner graduated in 2016 with an undergraduate degree in International Service. Molina graduated from the Washington College of Law in 2016 and serves as the WCL Student Bar Association President and a senior staffer for the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law. 

“Both of us talked about structural inequality. Both of us said, how can we ask for peace if we don’t first address disparities?” Brenner said. “This is a very D.C. specific project… We see racial segregation, ward based economic segregation. We said we have to empower young people to be able to be peacemakers by giving them the resources to do it.” 

The event is targeted at empowering and educating youth from other D.C. wards with lower economic incomes that are racially segregated. Over 400 middle and high school students from the D.C. Public School system are expected to be bussed to AU, and others will arrive on their own, according to Brenner.

“In D.C. we have this world where there’s so many limitations based on the color of your skin and your economic background and your gender,” Brenner said. “It’s true all around the world, but in D.C., because it’s our home, we think we have to start locally.”

The event will have a schedule of speakers, information booths and food. Speakers will include Yasmine Arrington, founder of ScholarCHIPS, an organization that gives scholarships and a support network to high school students with incarcerated parents. SIS Professor of International Peace and Conflict Resolution Barbara Wien will speak as well.

The importance of the event occurring on campus is to have AU students come and speak to these younger students about college, Brenner said. 

Molina hopes that The District can be an example for other parts of the country.

“We believe that Washington D.C. could be a beacon of hope for the rest of the country, show that we’re trying to educate and to empower the next generation of leaders and show that they can collaborate and work with each other to address these issues and have a sustainable future.” 


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