The Richmond Peace Education Center has announced it will recognize Ram Bhagat, Ed.D., as the 2016 Peacemaker of the Year. A longtime educator and community activist, Ram Bhagat has been teaching and transforming communities for thirty years.
“The Richmond Peace Education Center is proud to honor Dr. Ram Bhagat as Peacemaker of the Year,” said Peace Center director Adria Scharf. “We thank him for his work to address systemic and cultural oppression, his spirit of creative nonviolence, and his efforts to educate and empower the youngest members of the Richmond community.”
In the late 1990s, Ram Bhagat co-founded Drums No Guns, a world percussion ensemble that inspires people of all backgrounds to challenge gun violence.
He was the catalyst for the founding of the Richmond Youth Peace Project in 2004 following the murders of two local high school students. The Richmond Youth Peace Project, a youth program run by the Richmond Peace Education Center in collaboration with Drums No Guns, has trained hundreds of teens to become leaders for peace and community change. Richmond Youth Peace Project programs have reached thousands of Richmond-area youth over the past decade.
The award will be presented at the Richmond Peace Education Center’s Member Dinner on May 26th at Ginter Park Presbyterian Church. The dinner begins at 5:30 and the award presentation will take place after 6:15. Dr. Bhagat will also be recognized at the Peace Center’s annual Dinner & Auction on November 5th.
Ram Bhagat’s deep commitment to the prevention of gun violence, and to the social emotional health of African American and Latino adolescents, is rooted in the tragic gun death of his younger brother. In his recent “TEDxRVA” talk, Ram quoted the great educator Paolo Friere: “The community must be uplifted by the victims of trauma, the oppressed, who must not become perpetrators, but who, through a process of self-healing, uplift the community,” he said.
Ram Bhagat has led conflict resolution trainings for the Richmond Peace Education Center that have reached hundreds of youth and adults in a wide variety of schools, social service agencies and community organizations, over the years.
In 2011, Ram Bhagat participated in the first international Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) training in Burundi, East Africa, together with Peace Center staff member Santa Sorenson. HROC is a healing and reconciliation program that facilitates healing from trauma caused by violence, war and genocide. Under Richmond Peace Education Center auspices, Ram, Santa and other skilled facilitators have helped many trauma-affected community members begin to heal.
Several local organizations, including the Richmond Peace Education Center, The Conciliation Project, and the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC), have benefited from his service on their boards of directors.
Dr. Bhagat retired from Richmond Public Schools in 2015, having served as Science Department Head at Open High School. Prior to Open High, he taught at John Marshall High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, the Governor’s School, among other schools. During his teaching career he earned numerous teaching awards including the Fitz Turner Youth Award from the Virginia Educational Association and the R.E.B. Award for Teaching Excellence. He currently serves as Science Department Chair at Ballou Senior High School in Washington, D.C., and holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from VCU.
He is also a certified yoga teacher, and at times integrates yoga, as well as drumming and the arts, into his community initiatives.
Through his 30 years of teaching, creative initiatives, and countless community collaborations, Ram Bhagat has impacted countless lives.
The Richmond Peace Education Center’s annual Peacemaker of the Year award recognizes the efforts of an individual or organization to build a more just and peaceful community and world. Nominees must be central Virginia residents, or Virginia residents who have had a significant impact on the Richmond metropolitan region. Statewide organizations are also eligible for the award.