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Aqeela Sherrills - "Finding the Gift in the Wound" Men's Story Project, UC-Berkeley

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Uploaded on Dec 15, 2010

Aqeela Sherrills is best known for creating the 1992 "Peace Agreement" between longtime Los Angeles gang rivals, the Bloods and the Crips. Sherrills's inspiration came from the loss of 13 friends to gang violence. This encouraged him to lay the groundwork for peace in his neighborhood. Within 10 years he had co-founded the Amer-I-Can Program, Inc., a multi-million dollar life management skills company with former football legend Jim Brown, and established the Community Self Determination Institute (CSDI), an agency dedicated to creating a sustainable model for what peace looks like in urban war zones. Sherrills' current focus is on what he terms the 'Reverence Movement,' a peace process that allows people to see the sacredness in one another. He has advised government officials in Belfast and Serbia on the process of establishing non-violent communities; he has addressed the Hague and the U.S. Congress on the importance of peace, reverence, and non-violence; and he has brokered peace agreements between gangs in cities across the U.S. Sherrills believes the only true path to reconciliation begins from within. It's a message he believes must be made accessible to people in communities around the world. He has received awards including the Denise Aubuchon Humanitarian Award from Death Penalty Focus, and has sat on the boards of several social justice organizations including Bioneers.

The Men's Story Project (www.mensstoryproject.org) is a replicable community arts & dialogue project in which local men critically - and publicly - explore social ideas about masculinity for the purpose of health and justice. The MSP mission is "to strengthen social norms that support healthy masculinities and gender equality, and to help eliminate gender-based violence, homophobia and other oppressions that are often intertwined with masculinities, through ongoing events of men's public story-sharing and community dialogue." In each MSP production, approximately 15 local men share stories about their own lives, highlighting stories that are less often heard; breaking silences on issues including sexism, racism, homophobia, and violence; celebrating men's beauty and strength; and stimulating collective discussion on what contemporary masculinities can be all about. The project started in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008.

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