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Undocumented Youth Have Shown that Ordinary People Build Extraordinary People Power, Even in the United States

Part I

In the year that TIME Magazine named “The Protester” as the Person of the Year focusing on the three-month-old “Occupy” on its cover as the pinnacle of protest success, the three-year-old national Dream Movement was moving steadily toward the most significant victory the immigrant rights movement had seen in 40 years. They were about to prove to the world that there is a difference between protest and movement. As we witness the birth of Mexico’s inspiring “Yo Soy 132” movement, as students take to the streets in Montreal, and as Occupy continues to struggle to find a focus and direction, perhaps it is time to take a closer look at the Dream Movement and the lessons it shares with us.

Neidi and CarlosIn a June 24 talk at the Fletcher Summer Institute for Advanced Study of Nonviolent Conflict, the Reverend James Lawson stated that “power comes from ordinary people.” The civil rights leader and architect of the Nashville student sit-ins reiterated that the civil rights movement was not a spontaneous series of actions. In fact, he said, almost all the actions that took place were carefully strategized, thought through, planned, and examined beforehand. This, after all, is what is required to outfox and outrace the opposition powers. “There is a wonderful example of this, right now, going on in the United States, and it is making me rethink some things about strategy and action, and that is the Dream Act students,” said Rev. Lawson.

obamaThe fault lines in US society have always run deep, but at no time in memory have they appeared so blatantly in the run-up to a presidential election. The cause is not the distance between the two candidates, as both sides claim. What stimulates this American reckoning is the sea change in the nation's positioning in the world, the rise of those whom history classified as "minorities," and the sharp decline in living standard for average citizens. Reaganite patriotism has run up against post-Cold War realities.

Published in Community Organizing
Wednesday, 27 June 2012 22:10

Shifting Culture, Making Change

mak-slideLast week, I had the great fortune of participating in a passionate discussion with a set of brilliant and effective leaders on what some call the "progressive project", in reference to the long-term goals and strategies of a broadly defined progressive movement. In the brightly lit meeting rooms of the Desmond Tutu Retreat Center in NY, a set of very smart people puzzled over the question many in the progressive movement have been asking for the last fifty years.

What will it take for us to win?

As we talked, a comrade of mine from the League of Young Voters announced that the more than 60 million dollars spent by Republicans on the Scott Walker campaign in Wisconsin resulted in 38% of union households voting for Walker, and therefore against their own self-interests- according to a June 5th article published in the NY Times. The big question on everyone's mind was why.

Published in Communications

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