Susan Eaton and Gina Chirichigno have been fighting social inequity for years. Everywhere they went, they heard the same thing from schools and communities struggling to break down racial and economic divisions—we need more positive examples. “Astonishingly,” says Eaton, “there were really very few stories about this type of work out there.”
That’s why Eaton, research director at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, and Chirichigno, outreach coordinator for the National Coalition on School Diversity, decided to found One Nation Indivisible, a project dedicated to harnessing “the power of storytelling and strategic organizing to support and celebrate people struggling to create, sustain and improve racially, culturally, linguistically and socioeconomically integrated schools, communities, workplaces and social institutions.”
“We wanted to create a project that was affirmative, as opposed to … documenting the problem,” says Eaton. One Nation Indivisible accomplishes this by gathering the stories of those who have found effective ways to dissolve social boundaries and then sharing those stories online and through conferences and strategy sessions.
“What we’ve found is that people who are doing great things and working really hard still feel very isolated and under fire locally,” says Eaton. “We make them realize they’re not alone and there are people out there who really celebrate and support them.”
One Nation Indivisible is constantly searching for programs and people who are working to create a more integrated and inclusive society. This could mean projects focused on a neighborhood, school or workplace—as long as social lines are crossed in some way.
As the organization’s collection of stories grows, so does the network it is building between activists previously working in relative isolation. One Nation Indivisible sponsors travel to social justice conferences so storytellers’ can tell their stories to a wider audience and build relationships with others working for social justice.
“We bring together people in disparate places who have common values and also have a lot of common challenges,” says Eaton. “We create a broader network of supporters by connecting them … to a national network of people we’ve worked with for many years.”
Eaton and Chirichigno have found most of the stories One Nation Indivisible has shared during their travels, but the organization is always on the lookout for more. You can request fun postcards to spread the word about the project and its mission here.
Maybe you already know of someone who is helping her community cross social boundaries and create inclusive spaces. If so, visit the “Share Your Story” section of the One Nation Indivisible website and submit your story. It could be one of the many narratives that motivate and inspire activists across the country.
Pettway is associate editor for Teaching Tolerance.