People / social justice

Interview: Dr Madge Dresser

By alma neu, Thursday Sep 7, 2017

Dr Madge Dresser is the coordinator of Journey to Justice in Bristol. The national charity aims to educate about social justice and empower citizens to take action, and their Bristol events take place throughout October. She spoke to Bristol24/7 about the ideas behind this inspiring project, and what she hopes it will achieve.

Tell us a bit about the concept behind Journey to Justice.
Journey to Justice is a national charity which really aims to inspire and inform people about the history of human rights and social justice issues, and shows people what they can do to be socially engaged in the UK and elsewhere.

What is the most important message that you want to get across?
It’s really about bringing people together, and to help people feel empowered to take action to help their community. It’s about making links and networks between people who have shared values, and who care about social justice issues. It’s also about getting people to connect to each other face to face, as well as on social media, all of which will hopefully help people to gain awareness that they are not the first to feel the way they do.

Are there any particular events that you are most looking forward to?
I am really excited about them all! We have the travelling exhibition at Bristol Cathedral, which not only tells the story of social justice issues, but also showcases Bristol’s own history. This includes the timeline of social activism, which is about the last hundreds of years of hidden, untold stories of Bristol’s history, such as the Bristol Bus Boycott.

We are also interviewing Peaches Golding OBE, who is the first black woman in history to hold the title of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of the County and City of Bristol, and whose family generations were enslaved African women. She is sharing some of her family documents – a lot of photos – including a special picture of her father with Rosa Parks.

There are many other exhibitions taking place too, not just in the cathedral, but also all around the city, and we also have more hands on stuff – we want to involve all generations and want people to talk to each other. We want to give young people the chance to be involved and talk about these important historic events.

This will all culminate to the last event that we’re having, which is called ‘Hands Across the City’. We’re inviting people from all walks of life; ordinary people who support diversity. We’ll be walking from Castle Park to Pero’s Bridge, where we will be having a photo of us all holding hands to symbolise a bridge of human solidarity with all migrant, asylum and refugee communities.

What are your hopes for Journey to Justice in the future?
We want to leave a legacy, we don’t want it to just finish in October. The main thing is to get across the kind of unpredictable creativity you get when people come together with shared values. We hope that it will create a knock-on effect, perhaps provide new resources and documents to use in schools, and that it will help teach people about social justice issues differently.

We also hope that it will help fertilise ideas. Social media is fantastic to this degree, helping to bring people together, but also it can be a silent community where people live in their own bubble, so it is important for people to get out there and connect together.

What we want to highlight with Journey to Justice is that social justice is about a lot of things: environmental campaigns, right to housing, anti-racism, workers’ rights, women’s rights – there are all sorts of different ideas that we will be exploring. We want to include everyone and bring all types of people together from all walks of life, and it’s about celebrating this diversity with various contributions. In the end, we hope that Journey to Justice will help empower people to make the city a fairer place.

To find out more about how you can get involved, visit


Read more: Preview – Journey to Justice Bristol

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