For 19 years, Communities Foundation of Texas (CFT) has been organizing service events “Freedom Day” on Sept. 11 to mobilize the community in observance of the 9/11 attacks as part of the federally recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.
This year on the 19th anniversary, CFT’s theme is Equity and Justice for All. According to a CFT press release, the COVID-19 pandemic, recent economic crisis and urgent demands to end systemic racism have created needs in the DFW community, and this year’s service projects aim to address these needs.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will only be five in-person projects this year, all of which are socially distanced.
One of those projects will take place in Plano at the North Texas Food Bank.
On 9/11, the 120 volunteers will come to the North Texas Food Bank to sort, pack, and prepare boxes of food for families experiencing food insecurity in the local area. This comes at a time when food insecurity is on the rise in Collin County due to recent economic instability.
Kymberlaine Banks, CFT’s Business Engagement Officer, said Freedom Day normally sees thousands of volunteers. But like with many things in 2020, this year that is not safe or possible. However, CFT still found ways to mobilize and serve the community virtually.
Some of these projects include Zoom workshops in which participants make birthday cards for families and individuals experiencing homelessness,virtual classes and workshops for families in a shelter for survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence, and a workshop on suicide prevention.
One of these projects will not end on 9/11, though. The Dallas chapter of Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation is assembling an oral history project that aims to “change the narrative” and tell the stories of members of the community who have experienced racism.
“(The project is) very much about identifying what the real history is so we can heal it,” Banks said. “We have to agree on the truth in order to heal. As long as we avoid the truth, we can’t heal it.”
Banks said she believes the reason that society has not made sufficient progress with regards to racial justice is because people do not agree on historical narratives and do not always understand the lived experiences of other people and communities.
“All of my life and generations before me, we haven't gone forward because we haven't been able to establish what happened,” Banks said. “We need to move forward.”
For more information, visit CFT’s website.