Organizing Upgrade was initiated in the aftermath of the economic crisis and Obama's election because - as we saw it then - "the terrain of politics is rapidly shifting beneath our feet." The mid-term elections on November 2, 2010 represented another significant shift in the political terrain. Not only did the balance of power shift in the House of Representatives, but the election of dozens of Tea Party candidates indicated disturbing trends in popular political consciousness.
As we reflect on Organizing Upgrade's one-year anniversary, Left Turn is celebrating ten years since it first launched as a much-needed magazine for the emergent social movements of our time. Organizing Upgrade is excited to share this reflective piece written by two members of the editorial collective of Left Turn magazine, Max Uhlenbeck and Rami El-Amine.
Wednesday, 01 September 2010 00:00 Published in Community Organizing
The strategic relevance of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign
This is a revised version of an article originally published in Interface: a Journal for and about Social Movements. Volume 2 (1): 262 - 270 (May 2o10). It was written in response to David Harvey's “Organizing for the Anti-Capitalist Transition.”
My name is Willie Baptist, like a Baptist Church. I am formerly homeless and still poor. I have been poor all my life and have been organizing among poor people in the United States for over 40 years. I participated as one of the organizers in the National Union of the Homeless nationwide organizing drive back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We developed chapters in 25 cities across the US with over 15,000 members and it t was perhaps the first time that homeless people organized homeless people on this scale. I also served as the Education Director for the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, an organization of poor and homeless white, Black and Latino families based in Kensington, the poorest community in the entire state of Pennsylvania, for 10 years. I have worked to build networks of grassroots organizations fighting poverty and connect them with international struggles of the poor including the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) of Brazil and the Abahlali base Mjondolo Shackdwellers movement of South Africa. I currently serve as the Poverty Initiative Scholar-in-Residence at Union Theological Seminary and the Coordinator of the Poverty Initiative’s Poverty Scholars Program.