Gregory Boyle shared what he has learned in three decades working with marginalized populations at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif.—that love is the answer, community is the context, and tenderness is the connective tissue. Tenderness reflects the foundational notion that there is no “us and them”, only us. Kinship cannot happen without tenderness. Homeboy seeks to be what the world is invited to become and more so during this transitional moment in time. He will share how the beloved community of Homeboy aspires to continue the work as an anti-racist organization and, more and more, stand against the untruth of inferiority and supremacy of people.
Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world.
A native Angeleno and Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992, Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.
Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992. In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, he and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.
In 1988, they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.
Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. His newest book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.
He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame. In 2014, President Obama named Father Boyle a Champion of Change. He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics. Currently, he serves as a committee member of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Economic and Job Recovery Task Force which was created in response to COVID-19.