Racial Justice and Healing through Love Lessons from My Ancestors

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Melissa Wood Bartholomew


This essay describes the author’s framework for pursuing racial justice and healing in the United States through love. The author applies principles from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressedto examine lessons of love and faith from her family and enslaved great-great grandparents whose internal work of resistance through love is offered as a strategy for resisting hate on the path to freedom and liberation. These lessons are embedded within an analysis of Freire’s thesis regarding the role of the oppressed in restoring humanity.

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Author Biography

Melissa Wood Bartholomew

Melissa Wood Bartholomew is a racial justice and healing practitioner. She facilitates love-centered racial healing workshops utilizing her framework Healers of the Wound: Healing Racism from the Inside Out (www.healersofthewound.org). Melissa's approach to healing justice is multidisciplinary and is rooted in restorative justice principles and practices and in her years of experience as a lawyer, mediator, minister, and social worker. She is the Racial Justice Fellow at Harvard Divinity School for the 2018–19 academic year, and an instructor in ministry at HDS. She also teaches a course in restorative justice at Boston College Law School and volunteers with the Transformational Prison Project. She is pursuing her PhD in social work at Boston College School of Social Work. Her research interests include the impact of racism, incarceration, and other systems of oppression on the mental health of African Africans, and the role of spirituality in their resilience.