by Colby Francis, Guest Blogger
In response to the nationwide protests that emerged after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black people throughout our country, people have been asking themselves and asking Fogbreak, “what can I do?” One of the easiest ways to make a difference is a donation to established organizations that are already making an impact. One organization homegrown in the East Bay is Planting Justice, which focuses on educational programs in East Oakland high schools about sustainable food. They also help with formerly incarcerated individuals’ reentry into society.
Rasheem Lockheart, from Planting Justice recently spoke about his experience with Planting Justice and the American justice system. During the school year, Lockheart spends his time teaching kids in the East Bay schools about sustainable foods. “We are all about healthier options and sustainability in schools, there’s certain parts of West Oakland where there is one grocery store for around 70,000 people, so our day to day is going into the high schools and passing out kale smoothies and teaching about healthy foods” Lockheart said. “They think it’s the greatest thing on the planet”. One of his favorite parts about the job is connecting with the youth and teaching about the medicinal benefits of fruits and vegetables. “One of our most recent hires was an alumni from McClymonds high school in Oakland and it was because of our program that they applied for us, so it’s nice to know that we are making an impact” Lockheart said.
In 2013, Lockheart met the founders of Planting Justice in San Quentin, and vowed to come work for Planting Justice when they built the first raised flower bed in any prison in the United States. He is now the re-entry coordinator and is on the fundraising team for the organization. “My job as re-entry coordinator is to help those who are re-entering into society transition to find employment”. Lockheart and his team plan on going into county jails and prisons to teach about sustainable foods and build more raised flower beds in prisons. Because of mass COVID-19 breakouts within the prison system, California is pushing people out of prisons who are close to coming out. “This is a problem within itself” Lockheart said, “They get 200 dollars, which is nothing in the Bay Area, so we are constantly networking with other reentry groups to figure out ways to help our community out”. Other than Planting Justice, Lockheart is also working with a group that supports ACA 6, which could give parolees the right to vote in California.