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Fathers Rising

We are excited to be hosting the first ever One Billion Fathers Rising (OBFR) event on Father’s Day. OBFR is an event by, for, and about men working to end violence and abuse in their community.   OBFR was first inspired this year by a group of  amazing fathers in South Africa dedicated to ending inequality and abuse.  Umoja Now is organizing events in both Burundi and Western Mass.

Fathers Rising In Burundi

For more information on our Burundi Fathers Rising event, and to get involved, please see our Facebook event page:

Fathers Rising In Western Mass

Join us on the steps of First Churches of Northampton at 1PM for an amazing afternoon of speech, poetry, and musical and theatrical performances, and consider bringing a comfy chair.  The performance will be hosted in Lyman Hall in the event of rain.   For more information, or to get involved, contact us .

Performers & Speakers

1:00 – 2:00

John Berkowitz
john berkowitzJohn is a father, grandfather, retired activist, and poet who is still actively working for peace, social and economic justice, and protecting the environment, especially stopping climate change. In 2008, he started a local chapter of the nation-wide Boys to Men Teen Mentoring program, which continues to serve nearly 30 boys in the Pioneer Valley. He’s currently on the board of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens in Hadley. He self-published his first book of poetry in 2012: “Saving–and Savoring–the World”.  John will deliver one of his poems on violence.

Eshu Bumpus
Eshu Bumpus 167x200Eshu captivates his audience by telling a variety of African, African-American and World folktales leavened with music, humor and mystery. At the age of 12, he began tutoring young children in math, nurturing their understanding and encouraging learning. In 1976, while a student at Hampshire College, he began teaching at an alternative elementary school housed at the Universirty of Massachusetts. Throughout that time, he also became a storyteller, visiting schools and offering writing workshops and drama residencies throughout the area.  Read more.

Sara Elinoff Acker
saraSara has been an activist in the battered women’s movement since 1985. She worked in shelter programs in Northern Vermont and Western Massachusetts and in 1992 started the partner contact program at Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) in Amherst. Sara became a certified batterer intervention group leader in 1996 and ran groups for abusive men for over ten years.  She now works as a psychotherapist in private practice.  Sara recently published her first book, Unclenching Our Fists, eleven first-person stories of men who have made a long-term commitment to end their abusive and controlling behaviors.

Evelyn Harris
evelyn harrisEvelyn has given depth and meaning to an extensive array of musical styles, creating stirring interpretations of African-American traditional and contemporary material, freedom songs from around the world, jazz, pop, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and blues. She’s an artist, performer, arranger and composer. Her compositions include State Of Emergency (1988 Grammy nomination), and My Lament. With Sweet Honey, she recorded and co-produced ten albums on the Warner Brothers, Redwood, and Flying Fish labels. Evelyn tells a story of the struggle for peace and justice through songs that confess the reveries and fears of a people intimately affected by violence and hatred. Read more.

Dr. Stephen Jefferson

Stephen received his Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he is a lecturer and former Program Director of the Sports Management program.   Stephen as written and lectured extensively on sports and dating violence.  He is a former counselor of Men Overcoming Violence (MOVE) program, and is a recipient of the Challenge and Change Award from Men’s Resource Center for Change located in Amherst.  Read more.


The Bamidele Dancers & Drummers
bamideleThe Bamidele Dancers & Drummers are art educators, composers, musicians, dancers and choreographers from Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean who are dedicated to the preservation of African and African rooted cultures through dance, music and song. Members have expertise in African, Caribbean and Brazilian culture. The company has presented concerts, lecture demonstrations, workshops and classes for student and adult audiences in colleges, Universities, and theatres throughout the United States, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Europe and Africa.  Read more.

phallaciesPhallacies LLC is based in Western MA and provides leadership development, health education, and violence prevention for men via dialogue and innovative educational theater. Phallacies is based on the notion that individual and community health is improved by challenging acceptance of traditional masculinity and supporting expression of multiple masculinities, with men as active participants in that process. Phallacies expands definitions of masculinity, creating healthier men and healthier communities. Read more about Phallacies and their amazing work.



Tom Schiff
tom schiffTom Schiff lives in Western Massachusetts and has worked with men and boys for over thirty years on issues of health, abuse, violence, sexual harassment, sexism, and homophobia as an educator, counselor, and consultant. . He is the Director of Phallacies (, a pro-feminist, male-positive men’s health dialogue and theater program that provides leadership development, health education, and violence prevention for men. Tom also works at the University of Massachusetts as a health educator and Adjunct Professor in both the Social Justice Education and Public Health programs.

Steven Trudel
steve trudelSteve was trained to work in the field of domestic violence intervention, by Boston’s Emerge Program in the early ’80s. By the end of the ’80s, he was working with the domestic violence program MOVE, Men Overcoming Violence.  At MOVE, He is the Sr. Counselor, working as a group leader in the community and at the Franklin County House of Correction, as well as a court liaison at the Hampshire Probate Court. MOVE uses a model of compassionate confrontation in it’s works to end abusive behavior- seeing the abusive behavior and not the person as the problem.  Read more.

Emmanuel Manou
manou2Manou is a member of ReBelle, a powerful musical force conceived in love, rebellion and evocative musical vigor from Africa and America.  Manou and his wife Kalpana write eloquent original composition in four different languages that moves along limbs of rasta; elements of jazz and folk; poetic insurgence; ardent rhythm.  The band is committed to bringing love, justice and unity among people and nations. Manou and ReBelle live a positive way of respect and represent a dynamic, loving creation.


James Arana
jamesJames is the Program Director at Men’s Resources International where he consults with governments and NGOs on implementing violence prevention and peacebuilding programs.  James also spent over two decades working in community development in New York City’s South Bronx where he trained promising young adults to become mentors for at-risk children and teens in their own neighborhoods. The program garnered international attention for its positive impact on school attendance and community involvement while reducing gang participation, street and domestic violence, and unwanted teenage pregnancy.
Pascal Akimana
paskyPascal is the Executive Director of Umoja Now, a US-Burundian organization which works to promote to promote gender equality and end violence.  Pascal is human rights activist with over twelve years of experience specializing in the fields of gender justice and equality, peace and reconciliation, and HIV/AIDS prevention.  Born in Burundi, he witnessed widespread gender-based and sexual violence in his community, leading him to dedicate his work to ending these injustices.  Pascal’s personal and professional experiences have made him a leader in the field of gender-based violence prevention, and an expert at approaching violence prevention in conflict and post-conflict settings.

Pascal Mpawenayo
pascal mp3Pascal is a signer, songwriter, and filmmaker.  Born in Burundi, Pascal spent most of his childhood witnessing war and its atrocities, often living in refugee camps to escape the violence.  Pascal has dedicated his life and work to raising awareness of the need for peace, gender equality, strong democracy and true leadership for youth and future generations through art.  Pascal’s short film, “Democracy Is” was a finalist in the 2010 US State Department Democracy Video Challenge.  Pascal holds a degree in computer science, and currently lives in Portland, Maine.

Tom Weiner, Master of Ceremonies
tom2Tom is a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and has taught  6th grade at the Smith College Campus School for 37 years.  Tom is the author of the recent book, Called to Serve: Stories of Men and Women Confronted by the Vietnam Draft.  His current book project is about men’s and women’s groups.  He is a social justice advocate since the 60’s with a major focus of his teaching being examining gender roles, fatherhood, and issues of race and class.



 Western Mass Sponsors and Partners

A2Z Science & Learning Store

ASAP Media

Audio Promedia

Dragon’s Den School of Martial Arts

First Churches Northampton

Law Firm of Lawrence Farber

Men’s Resources International

Mosaic Café

Phallacies LLC

Queen Bee Cupcakes

Raising Change

River Valley Market

Safe Passage

Seigel Godfrey Signs

Voice Male Magazine

Western Mass Photo Contest!

Register for our first ever Facebook Fathers Rising photo contest.  Top entry wins a $45 gift certificate to Mosaic Café, Northampton.  Last day to enter is June 13th!