Fighting for justice and equity
By Bailey Russell
Hi, I am an intern with PJALS for the 2016-2017 academic school year. I am a senior at Gonzaga University and will be graduating with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in French in May 2017. I will head to law school in the fall of 2017.
I still remember how I found PJALS. My junior year was coming to a close, the school work had started to wear off, and I realized that my senior year needed to be important. I needed to use the extra time I knew I would have from an easier class schedule to do something worthwhile. So I started researching organizations in town that worked on issues that were close to my heart; criminal justice reform, anti-racism, anti-militarism, rights for undocumented immigrants, reproductive rights—human rights. That is how I found the Peace and Justice Action League. From there I applied to be an intern and haven’t looked back since.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when I started here. I was worried I wouldn’t fit in, wouldn’t find my groove or my passion, but I found all three aspects sooner than I anticipated. I get to work with some amazing individuals; Liz, Shar and Adrian. The events I get to help plan include so much learning and networking. I’ve learned new ways to organize, mobilize and protest. I’m learning how to fundraise and plan to learn how to grant write. The thing about interning for PJALS is that you’re not just interning. You’re learning at the same time because all of the work we do requires hands on involvement, whether it involves calling people, talking to members and others face to face, attending events or going to rallies, protests and press conferences. You name it, I’ve been involved with it at PJALS. And I will be forever grateful for these opportunities.
I feel especially lucky to have formed such strong bonds with everyone at PJALS in the wake of election results. PJALS is one of the only completely safe spaces for me to grieve, discuss and evaluate this election. I also feel incredibly lucky to be with PJALS during this tumultuous time because I’m getting to see how activists mobilize in the face of adversity in real time. Some days are harder than others, some situations stickier than others, but it’s the moments that I realize that I am in a place where I am surrounded by people who not only align with my values, but support me and are willing to fight for me, that I find the strength to keep fighting with others for justice and equity. Thank you PJALS. I’m buckling my seatbelt for next year.