Reesheda Graham-Washington is the executive director of Communities First Association, a faith-based nonprofit committed to asset-based community development. She coaches leaders in building community and developing sustainable and equitable practices within their organizations. Graham-Washington tapped into soul force to launch L!VE Cafe, an experimental community space that serves artisanal coffee and brings people together from across Chicago for conversation and mutual transformation.

Graham-Washington is commissioned as a licensed minister through Suburban Life Community Church and is a former teacher and administrator for Chicago Public Schools. She has three daughters and is deeply rooted in Chicago.

She is the co-author of a book called Soul Force: Seven Pivots Toward Courage, Community, and Change.  

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In Justice Movements, We Cannot Neglect Our Souls

This is why the civil rights movement was so impactful. The movement for justice was fueled and sustained by faith. The soul was not considered something separate from the body it was the source, the epicenter, and the driver for non-violent resistance and hope-filled resilience. Dr. King called this soulful way of doing justice “soul force.” Soul force heals the misguided bifurcation between evangelism and social justice by showing the deep connection between our souls and our actions. We must recover the soul of justice, lest we end up cynical, burned out, and reactionary. Soul work sustains both individuals and communities in our justice work. We must not neglect our souls in the work for justice nor neglect justice to tend to our souls. We must commit to both lifestyles and collectives that demand soul care as a non-negotiable act of justice for all.