SGI-USA Youth Celebrate New Phase of SGI's Worldwide Growth
On September 16, 2007, SGI-USA youth of New York and its environs met to commemorate the 50th anniversary of second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda's declaration for the abolition of nuclear weapons with a festival, calling "Be Bold! Choose Peace!" More than 2,000 youth and their guests, supported by men's and women's members, attended the event at Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Performances united in their message of peace included African drumming and dancing, spoken word, rap, Latin, hip hop and kite dances and a chorus and youth band.
In a message read at the event, U.S. Representative Yvonne Clark of New York congratulated the SGI-USA youth and thanked them for the "very important work you do. Continue in your passion for peace and lead the world by your worthy example." The finale featured more than 100 performers joining the audience in the festival's original song "Be Bold! Choose Peace!"
In Santa Monica, California, on September 15, more that 1,000 youth and their guests attended a gathering titled "Celebrating SGI-USA Youth Day -- Youth Advancing the Culture of Peace." The meeting opened with the rap duo Treasure Tower. Youth members then presented the history and significance of President Toda's declaration calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons on September 8, 1957.
Virginia Powell, an SGI-USA member and world record holder for the 100 meter hurdles told of her recent trip to Osaka in the Kansai region of Japan where she participated in the World Championships. Despite having suffered a severe knee injury six weeks earlier at a meet in Paris, Ms. Powell placed fifth in the championships. She said that her usual inclination is to berate herself and feel discouraged when not winning first place, but this time she felt absolutely victorious. She later received a congratulatory message from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, saying, "You have won!" In a visit to the Soka Gakkai's Kansai Culture Center following her meet, members warmly greeted her and awarded her the Kansai Spirit medal inscribed in Japanese with josho, or "ever victorious."
The gatherings on the east and west coasts also served to launch a new era of individual growth and development of the SGI-USA organization that will be spearheaded by youth. Remarking on this "second act," SGI-USA Youth Leader Kimberly Herrmann encouraged the youth to "bring happiness to others while realizing all our dreams." She also shared an excerpt from a message SGI President Ikeda had sent to the SGI-USA youth: "What counts is not the number of people who are engaged in our challenge. Rather, what matters is if one earnest individual resolutely stands up, he or she can bring about victory for all the people."
[Adapted from an article in the October 5, 2007 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA]