by Jonathan Lehrer
JCUA Communications Consultant
What does a civil war more than 5,000 miles away that ended 10 years ago have to do with gun violence in our backyard today?
Plenty, says Dr. Marcenia Richards, founder of Fierce Women of Faith, one of JCUA’s community partners.
Introducing the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” Richards said the struggle and ultimate triumph of the women of Liberia inspired her to rally Chicago women against violence. Richards’ passion is reflected in the very name of her organization. (Learn more about Fierce Women of Faith.)
The 2008 film tells the story of Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, a group organized by Leymah Gbowee, a social worker who eventually received the Nobel Peace Prize. By convincing the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to work in partnership, the group’s efforts led to peace after years of civil war.
I saw the film recently at Beth Hillel Congregation Bnai Emunah in Wilmette, the synagogue community where I served as president a few years ago (and where I also started the annual film festival during which this documentary was screened). Judy Levey, JCUA’s executive director, spoke about JCUA’s recent work with Fierce Women of Faith (learn more). Judy is also a member of BHCBE, where the Social Action Committee has placed urban violence on its agenda.
After the movie, and via email, I chatted with Dr. Richards.
What aspects of the film inspired you to create FWF?