Tag Archives: community organizing

“ ‘Walk Together Children!’ The Charismatic Leadership and Race-Conscious Politics of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.”

This month, we’ve celebrated the birth and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has become the face of African American civil rights in the United States and human rights worldwide. While there is much of King’s legacy that remains under appreciated, particularly his post-1963 “I Have a Dream” speech critiques of capitalism and worker’s rights protests, there is also room to explore the influence of lesser-known Civil Rights advocates and activists. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Disruption, Racist and Racial Justice Movements

When Bad Structures Happen to Good Movements

By Jen McKernan

Failure in social movements is an overwhelming topic. When I started thinking about things under our control that we could do differently to minimize the chances of self-imposed failure, I kept coming back to the organizational structures we create. We know that more money, more time, better lists, and more volunteers would all help. But how can we also work smarter with the resources we have, while we continue to work harder to improve our resources?

I spoke with terrific organizers and activists who contributed incredible insights and revisions. They have all been a part of many different movements, brainstorms, meetings, plans, rallies, accountability sessions, campaigns, debriefs, press conferences, and work groups to make the world better for more people. They gained their hard-won experience in the trial by fire that is organizing. The result is short list of bad structures that happen to good movements. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Social Movement Failure

Organizing as a Campaign Strategy

By Marshall Ganz

Rasmus Klies Nielsen’s Ground Wars brings refreshing focus to the role interpersonal communication can play in even the most high-tech, high dollar, high-profile 2012 electoral campaign. This is an important reality check for those who think it’s all simply a matter of who can buy the best ads.

There is, however, another aspect to this question that I’d like to highlight: the difference in whether one employs interpersonal communication as yet another marketing technique or whether it is used to engage people in organizing to become active participants in the political process.  This distinction is of particular significance for Democrats who cannot rely on the network of gun clubs, evangelical churches, right to life groups, and tea party chapters that so successfully provided the grassroots base for an ascendant conservative movement over the course of the last 30 years.  Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Ground Wars and the 2012 Elections

Social Movements Classes as Sites for Organizer Training

By Brian K. Obach

An alternative approach to teaching social movements classes is to do so in a way that imparts practical skills designed to prepare students for careers in organizing.  While higher education institutions offer training and professional development for a wide range of careers, this important career trajectory is almost completely neglected.  The dearth of higher education offerings in this area is so great that labor unions and private non-profit centers have had to develop their own training and education programs to meet their own demand.  With some modification, most social movements classes could be designed to develop that skill set and to better prepare students for careers as professional organizers.

There are thousands of non-profit community organizations and labor unions throughout the United States that employ social movement organizers.  A visit to a web-based employment clearinghouse for non-profit organizations yielded a list of over 600 jobs available under the designation “activism.”  Continue reading

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Filed under Essay Dialogues, Pedagogy of Social Movements