"We were once victims; now we are organizers."
Wow! A huge congratulations to Wei Chen of Philadelphia, one of ten young people to receive the inaugural Peace First Prize, a $50,000 fellowship that honors young people who are engaged in peace-making projects and positive change in their communities: Peace prize for anti-violence student leader.
You might remember Wei -- he was an instrumental activist during a weeklong student boycott in response to the racial violence at South Philadelphia High School four years ago. As a young student, he organized fellow immigrant youth to speak out against racial harassment and violence at his school.
Wei, 22, is currently an organizer of Asian Americans United in Philadelphia, leading workshops and training at schools that include the history of discrimination and social justice. The $50,000 fellowship will allow Wei to focus solely on organizing Asian youth in Philadelphia.
Here's a video with more, in Wei's own words, on what drives his work around anti-bias violence:
More on Wei:
At 16, Wei moved from China to Philadelphia where he experienced racial violence at his school. He quickly learned he wasn’t the only target and that a culture of violence prevailed at the school with no support from administrators. So he began organizing students with the goal of getting school staff to take responsibility for the safety of all students.This is awesome. Congratulations, Wei. For more information about the Peace First Prize, go here.
He organized a boycott with over 100 students and filed a civil rights complaint to the Department of Justice. Wei’s actions resulted in replacing the principal, new policies on harassment, and staff trainings in bias. Wei and his fellow protesters also won their civil rights complaint, which mandates schools are responsible for protecting their students from racial violence. Wei believes the most important result was the change students experienced. He says, “When we first marched to the School District to protest school violence, some students covered their faces because they were afraid. But now we don’t cover our faces. We were once victims; now we are organizers.”