Chester Justice Celebration

On July 30, 2022, CRCQL, Chester Heals, and The Yes Center collaborated with Swarthmore students working in Chester for the summer to host the Chester Justice Celebration. Youth were invited to come down to the MJ Freed Theatre from 12-3pm to learn about all the ways that the community has been able to fight injustices. Speeches were given by three prominent community activists, including CRCQL’s Ms. Zulene Mayfield to inspire hope in the youth at the event.

“You guys walk amongst greatness everyday in this city and you don’t even know it. You don’t even know your history and the people who stood before you and stand up for you now that are powerful. And I’m telling you, you are no different from me. You just need to be taught how to use your power.”

Zulene Mayfield

Every hour, the youth listened to a speech about an aspect of how justice is fought for in Chester. Ms. Twyla Simpkins, known as Chester’s modern day historian, discussed Chester’s history and provided a glimpse into the rich archive of artifacts held at the Yes Center. Ms. T also discussed her efforts to document the inspiring female change-makers in Chester in the present, bringing some of the inspiring community leaders to meet the children.

Reverend Hilda Campbell discussed systemic racism in Chester and the ways in which these violences are still experienced in the community. She discussed the importance of fostering healing from not only violences in the present, such as the tragic death of her grandson who was a victim of gun violence, but also from the legacies of slavery and continued systemic racism that still affect Chester today.

Finally, CRCQL’s Ms. Zulene Mayfield talked to the youth about the environmental injustices in their community, filling their air and their lungs. She outlined the successes of CRCQL and the real ability to protect one’s community when people pull together and fight. The day ended with the youth being inspired and called to form their own CRCQL youth group in Chester to fight for the health of their community.

“We cannot be afraid when people are doing harm to us. What’s any more harmful than someone poisoning you to death? Do you have a grandma? What would you not do to protect them? That’s all the drive you need.”

Zulene Mayfield

The day was also filled with many activities and stations to help celebrate the lessons of the day:

Dream pillows: kids were asked to write down their hopes for the future on pieces of paper, which were then sewed inside of custom made pillows for the kids to take home
Yes Center archive: a wonderful collection of artifacts were available to browse through
Giveaways: gifts were raffled off, including paintings made by Ms. Zulene’s son
Pot decorating: kids painted their pots with images of their environment
Bracelet-making: kids made bracelets, making messages out of the beads, providing them with a memento of the event
Plant potting: each person got to take home a pot with their choice of flowers or vegetables to care for and take home
Timeline: a visual timeline of Chester’s history of community activism covered one of the walls of the event. Kids placed their own birthdays up on the walls to place themselves amongst the rich history of Chester

A huge thank you to all the community partners and youth that made the event possible.

If you or anyone you know of are interested in helping to build a CRCQL youth group in Chester, please reach out to us.

Photos taken by JR from Unseen Visuals

Ms. Zulene, Will Jones, and C4 students making use of the photo booth
Stay Up to Date...
on how we're fighting to protect Chester, and how you can too.