One of the most visible elements of City Year is the red jacket. The red jacket is a symbol of permanence, guidance and support. It is a promise that every member of our organization who wears the jacket is committed to serving our nation’s children and each corps member is working to positively impact our nation’s drop-out crisis by working as a mentor and tutor. When a corps member puts on the red jacket, they become a representative for the entire organization–they embody City Year’s mission, culture, and values.
This year’s Red Jacket Ceremony was held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Park in South Seattle. At the ceremony every corps member was asked to dedicate their jacket to someone influential in their lives or an inspirational idea. Dedicating the red jacket a very personal experience, and then sharing that dedication helps to build Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of the beloved community.
Dr. King once said “…something must happen so as to touch the hearts and souls of men that they will come together, not because the law says it, but because it is natural and right. In other words, our ultimate goal is integration which is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living…Only through nonviolence can this goal be attained, for the aftermath of nonviolence is reconciliation and the creation of the beloved community.”
When you share your story with other people, you are opening up and trusting that people will be ready to listen with an open heart and an open mind. As a City Year member, there is nothing more important than putting on the red jacket, as all of your power and idealism flows from that seemingly simple action. Sharing what the red jacket symbolizes is a meaningful demonstration of what motivates us to serve and ultimately why we each work to build the beloved community.
Text by Senior Corps Member Denise Rene Taylor