No Boundaries Coalition honoured with 2018 Pax Christi International Peace Award at ceremony in USA

 

1/10/18 - Baltimore - Pax Christi International recognised the No Boundaries Coalition as the recipient of the 2018 Pax Christi International Peace Award at a ceremony and reception in Baltimore, Maryland (USA) on Saturday, 15 September. The award ceremony was held at the historic Baltimore Basilica with a reception at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church where No Boundaries got their start. 

The evening's festivities began with a welcome from Judy Coode, project coordinator of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, with music from the choir of St. Bernardine Church, featured throughout the evening.

Bishop Kevin Dowling, co-president of Pax Christi International, from Rustenburg, South Africa offered an opening address calling to mind the witness of South Africa's own Nelson Mandela and how No Boundaries shares in the important transformative work of reconciliation that Mandela stood for.

Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, executive director of Pax Christi USA, who nominated No Boundaries for the Peace Award, gave a rousing address outlining how No Boundaries stands on the front line of lifting up communities of colour in the United States today during a time when they see their rights eroded and challenged by the powerful.

The award was presented by Bishop Dowling, with Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, and Greet Vanaerschot, Pax Christi International's secretary general.

Following the award presentation, Ray Kelly, CEO of the No Boundaries Coalition, gave an address reaffirming how they will remain committed to building a world rooted in justice and community.

"My hope is to inspire every one of you to use that voice, to create that platform. With passion and commitment there are no impossibilities, together we can conquer the world. Our time is NOW! We have to do all we can. If you don’t have money, lend your time; your energy is what inspired this. We Can Do Better, we can do more," said Kelly.

Following his speech, Kelly introduced his younger "twin brother" who shared an original song to mark the moment.  

The No Boundaries Coalition was formed as a non-profit organization in 2010 after three years of block parties had connected several diverse West Baltimore neighbourhoods and enhanced resident engagement. Its primary priorities are public safety and access to healthy food; it also hosts listening and accountability fora for public officials and organises voter registration drives.

In relation to public safety, No Boundaries has been a leader within the community particularly after the death of Freddie Gray - a young African American man who died while in police custody in April 2015 - by providing listening spaces for residents and city officials. No Boundaries also created the West Baltimore Community Commission on Police Misconduct. Its mission was to document and present residents' stories of their interactions with the Baltimore Police Department; in 2016 they published  "Over-Policed Yet Underserved: The People's Findings Regarding Police Misconduct in West Baltimore", which was ultimately cited by the U.S. Department of Justice and reported to the United Nations.

"We admire the courageous work of the residents of West Baltimore who, confronted with ongoing systemic racism, economic exclusion and civic disconnection, jointly created the No Boundaries Coalition. We honour their steadfastness to transform their vulnerable community through nonviolent approaches, into viable and secure living spaces for all, across the boundaries of race, class and neighbourhood," said Vanaerschot. "The efforts of the No Boundaries Coalition to promote the dignity of the people of West Baltimore serve as an excellent model of active nonviolence."

Established in 1988, the Pax Christi International Peace Award is funded by the Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund and honours contemporary individuals and organisations who make a stand for peace, justice and nonviolence in different parts of the world.

For more on the 2018 Peace Award:

 

No Boundaries Coalition, Baltimore, Pax Christi International Peace Award, Peace Award, Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink Peace Fund