Grant #305

A Town Called Victoria

July 30, 2018

Guilty! A Texas man was convicted recently in what was said to be a hate crime against Muslims. The case made international headlines, and every angle of this incredible trial was captured for the documentary “A Town Called Victoria” using cameras rented with cash from our AWB grant.

TBH, we were surprised that the convicted arsonist turned out to be the person that filmmaker Li Lu described as a young Hispanic man, the son of loving parents and the father of two children. Secretly, he identified with racist ideologies that led him to commit a crime of hate against another minority group in his town. Li’s film tells the story of this Texas town, where a mosque was burned to the ground by an unlikely perpetrator, and the even more unlikely aftermath of the crime: hundreds of townspeople showed up for a peace rally the next day. Soon after, over a million dollars was raised in a worldwide crowdfunding campaign to help rebuild the mosque. The press went wild with this good news story, especially during the coverage of the divisive Muslim ban. You might have seen one of the uplifting pieces about the way Victoria responded to hate and intolerance.

Li Lu wondered if there was something more beyond the inspirational surface. She went to Victoria to ask – how are the people of Victoria really dealing with age-old political, cultural, racial, and economic divides in their midst? Li has been listening to the activists and politicians, preachers and worshippers, students and teachers, community leaders and ordinary folks. She wants to know why a local young man, Marq Vincent Perez, burned down this mosque. So do we.

Follow along with Li and her work on Instagram, Facebook, and at her website.




After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders