Nearly a year on, Irvine seniors continue the fight for racial justice

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April 27, 2021 -- As in other communities across the country and around the world, the death of George Floyd in May 2020 resonated deeply with residents at Regents Point senior living community in Irvine. Much like the action his death spurred, it too was the catalyst behind the creation of Seniors for Racial Justice (SRJ), a resident-led advocacy and educational group focused on combating racial injustice and inequity.

“It feels so right to be of help in the world at this time in my life,” said 85-year-old Vivian Johnson, a Regents Point resident and one of eight founding members of the group. “I’m fortunate to be in good health, and to be part of a group like this gives me energy and purpose.”

Shortly after Floyd’s death, Johnson and about 60 other residents participated in four vigils at a busy intersection near their community. The reception was inspiring.

“We had a large banner made, and we had so many honks, so many thumbs up; I think they loved it that we were older people,” Johnson chuckled.

In the subsequent months, SRJ teamed up with a nonpartisan voting group to encourage people nationwide to cast their ballot, writing more than 400 letters. Today, they’re exploring youth mentorship opportunities in partnership with the local NAACP, a speaker series at Regents Point with professors from nearby University of California Irvine, and educating themselves on a law enforcement accountability bill currently before the state legislature.

Johnson is candid that personal reflection and increased awareness of unconscious bias has at times been uncomfortable, but it’s led to more open, honest discussions, many with younger generations who are at the forefront of this fight.

“I feel a real rapport with my grandchildren, because we talk about these things together,” she added. “We really are partners in this. The middle generation [parents] can often be so busy with work and child care, but we elders can really have a role in this.”

Read the story about this remarkable group in the Los Angeles Times.




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