In 2020, a global pandemic and racial justice protests left places like Chicago with closing local grocery stores. But the community stepped in.
Eva Maria Lewis, for example, fed hundreds of neighbors by creating a donation-based, volunteer-run free food-delivery program. She also made a serious connection between food justice and gun violence.
Her organization, which now also focuses on education accessibility, is called Free Root Operation. Lewis believes that getting to the root of gun violence means ensuring everyone’s basic needs are met.
When violence happens where resources are scarce, that’s the cyclical result of anti-Black systemic poverty, segregation, mass economic disinvestment, and investment in policing.
Getting at the root of violence also means caring for the people who care for everyone else - including herself. In 2023, Lewis also launched a program that pairs mostly single Black mothers with mentors helping them invest in self-care, counseling and wellness, career goals, and other opportunities.
All while still trying to figure out what prioritizing her own healing can look like.
The criminal legal system may equate justice with punishment, but community members like Lewis are fighting to change that definition. They’re asking us to imagine all the ways our communities could benefit if we all had the resources we need to survive and thrive. What resources mean the most to you?