Community Organizing

In The Purpose of Power, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza writes, “The mission and purpose of organizing is to build power. Without power, we are unable to change conditions in our communities that hurt us. A movement is successful if it transforms the dynamics and relationships of power.” The Black Lives Matter organizing and protests, that peaked in the weeks after the murder of George Floyd, owe their progress to their vast geographic reach, specific demands, and sustained energy.


Community organizing is one of the core tools to rally mass momentum for social transformation. Community organizing can include tactics such as changing policy, challenging how public resources are allocated, and transforming realities on the ground. This strategy is most effective when led by frontline comm [...]

Case Studies

Title
Author
Organization
Transforming Organizing: A Longitudinal Study of BOLD’s Organizers Part 1
Zuri Murphy
Social Insights, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity
A Rose in L.A.
Manauvaskar Kublall
The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
Alliances for Change: Organizing for the 21st Century
Marnie Brady
Building Movement Project
Building the Anti-Racist, Anti-Imperialist United Front: Theory and Practice from the L.A. Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union
Eric Mann
Labor/Community Strategy Center
Changing the Conversation: Philanthropic Funding and Community Organizing in Detroit
Nina Ignaczak et al.
Allied Media Projects (AMP); Detroit People’s Platform (DPP)
Labor/Community Strategy Center Case Study
Fern Tiger Associates
Southern Echo Case Study
Fern Tiger Associates

Organizing for Particular Issues

Title
Author
Organization
Anti-Racism Organizing in the Suburbs (AROS)
Community Change Inc. (CCI)
Fertile Ground: Women Organizing at the Intersection of Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice
Kristen Zimmerman and Vera Miao
Movement Strategy Center (MSC)
Organizing with Love: Lessons from the New York Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Campaign Center for the Education of Women
Center for the Education of Women, Twink Frey Visiting Social Activist Program
Social Justice Organizing in the U.S. South: The Southern Scan Research Project
Institute for Southern Studies, Hill-Snowdon Foundation; New World Foundation
The Road to Reform: Collaborative Model for Reforming the Taxicab Industry
The Advancement Project
Transforming Lives, Transforming Movement Building: Lessons from National Domestic Workers Alliance
Jennifer Ito, Rachel Rosner, Vanessa Carter, and Manuel Pastor
USC Dornsife

Practices

Title
Author
Organization
14 Steps to a Moral Fusion Organizing
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
Repairers of the Breach
How White People Can Show Up to Support Black Lives
Felicia Gustin
SURJ Bay Area
Anti-Racist Neighborhood Watch: Manual and Resource Toolkit
Portland Assembly
Barriers to Organizing Between Anti-Racist White People
Joanie Mayer
BOLD Report 2017
N'Tanya Lee, Prudence Browne, and Zuri Murphy
Catalyzing Liberation Toolkit: Anti-Racist Organizing to Build the 99% Movement
Chris Crass
The Catalyst Project
Class and Community Organizing
Class Matters
Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots
Dave Beckwith, with Cristina Lopez
Center for Community Change
How to Prepare Yourself for a Protest—and What to Do If You End Up in Cuffs
Derek Burnett
Colorlines
Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda
Indivisible Action
Infiltration At Protests And Online
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL)
It Takes Roots to Challenge Philanthropy
Climate Justice Alliance; Indigenous Environmental Network; Right to the City Alliance; Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing
Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice
LeftRoots: Organizational Documents
Movement Mic Check: Rapid Response to Racial Disasters
Within Our Lifetime National Network
Organizing Transformation: Best Practices in the Transforming Organizing Model
Steve Williams
Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, New York Office
People’s Movement Assembly Organizing Handbook
Project South; People’s Movement Assembly from 2006-2016

Practices

Title
Author
Organization
The Elephant in the Room, Part 2
Highlander Research and Education Center
A Leadership Pedagogy for Women of Color Organizers
Trish Adobea Tchume and Aida Cuadrado Bozzo, et al.
Calling In & Up
Resource Guide to Power Mapping
Impact Justice, Restorative Justice Project
Power-Building Ecosystem Framework
USC Program for Environmental & Regional Equity (PERE)

Tools

Title
Author
Organization
We Power Policy Toolkit
S. Noor, A.K. Rogers-Wright, and A. Giancatarino, et al.
We Power Policy
Beautiful Trouble Toolbox
40 Ways to Fight Fascists: Street-Legal Tactices For Community Activists
PopMob, Spencer Sunshine, Pete Railand, Roger Peet
Just Seeds
From Hashtags to Hip-Hop, the Hows and Whys of Cultural Campaigning
MobLab Team
Power Analysis Matrix Example
Ramsey County
Crossroads Training
Tools for White Anti-Racist Organizing
Catalyst Project
Organizing: People, Power, Change
Marshall Ganz, with foreword by Shea Sinnott and Peter Gibbs
Leading Change Network; New Organizing Institute; The Commons: Social Change Library
Toolkit for Black and Non Black POC Organizers and Activists on the 5th Anniversary of Trayvon’s Death
Black Lives Matter: Remembering Trayvon

“Young people are rising to meet the moment and looking for ways to engage these 21st century realities. We carry a responsibility to join with their righteous anger and continue to identify opportunities for collective long-term strategy building that allows for us to fight back against the attacks on our people and advance our frontline struggles. We carry a responsibility to utilize all the tactical tools in our toolboxes–community organizing, direct action, creating and fighting for people’s policies, and more.”

~ Ash-Lee Henderson, Co-Director of the Highlander Research and Education Center

SPOTLIGHT

Better Days are Coming – Davonte Johnson, The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools

Also in this section:
  • Addressing Trauma and Healing

  • Caucus and Affinity Groups

  • Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

  • Leadership Development

  • Organizational Change Process

  • Training and Popular Education

  • Advocacy

  • Community Building

  • Dialogue and Deliberation

  • Multicultural Competency

  • Policy and Legislative Change

  • Youth Activism and Intergenerational Work

  • Arts and Culture

  • Community Engagement

  • Hate Crimes Prevention and Response

  • Narrative Change

  • Racial Reconciliation

GLOSSARY

Anti-Racist

An anti-racist is someone who is supporting an antiracist policy through their actions or expressing antiracist ideas. This includes the expression of ideas that racial groups are equals and do not need developing, and supporting policies that reduce racial inequity. 


SOURCE:  Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist, Random House, 2019.

Caucusing (Affinity Groups)

A caucus is an intentionally created space for those who share an identity to convene for learning, support, and connections. Caucuses based on racial identity are often comprised, respectively, of people of color, white people, people who hold multiracial identities, or people who share specific racial or ethnic identities.


To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. Caucuses provide spaces for people to work within their own racial/ethnic groups. For white people, a caucus provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. A white caucus also puts the onus on white people to teach each other about these ideas, rather than placing a burden on people of color to teach them. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation. At times, people of color may also break into more specific race-based caucuses, sometimes based on experiences with a particular issue, for example police violence, immigration, or land rights. Groups that use caucuses in their organizational racial equity work, especially in workplaces and coalitions, generally meet separately and create a process to rejoin and work together collectively.


SOURCE:  RacialEquityTools.org (ACT / Strategies / Caucus and Affinity Groups)


Related Resources:  Caucus and Affinity Groups

Location: ACT / Strategies

Implicit Bias

Also known as unconscious or hidden bias, implicit biases are negative associations that people unknowingly hold. They are expressed automatically, without conscious awareness. Many studies have indicated that implicit biases affect individuals’ attitudes and actions, thus creating real-world implications, even though individuals may not even be aware that those biases exist within themselves. Notably, implicit biases have been shown to trump individuals’ stated commitments to equality and fairness, thereby producing behavior that diverges from the explicit attitudes that many people profess. The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is often used to measure implicit biases with regard to race, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, and other topics.


SOURCE:  Cheryl Staats, State of the Science: Implicit Bias Review 2013, Kirwan Institute, The Ohio State University. 


Related Resources:  Implicit Bias

Location: ACT / Communicating

Microaggression

The everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.


SOURCE:  Derald Wing Sue, PhD, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race” (Psychology Today, 17 November 2010).


Related Resources:  Racism (scroll down alphabetically to the box for “Interpersonal Racism”)

Location: FUNDAMENTALS / Core Concepts

Multicultural Competency

A process of learning about and becoming allies with people from other cultures, thereby broadening our own understanding and ability to participate in a multicultural process. The key element to becoming more culturally competent is respect for the ways that others live in and organize the world and an openness to learn from them.


SOURCE:  Paul Kivel, “Multicultural Competence” (2007).


Related Resources:  Multicultural Competency

Location: ACT / Strategies

Power

  1. Power is unequally distributed globally and in U.S. society; some individuals or groups wield greater power than others, thereby allowing them greater access and control over resources. Wealth, whiteness, citizenship, patriarchy, heterosexism, and education are a few key social mechanisms through which power operates. Although power is often conceptualized as power overother individuals or groups, other variations are power with (used in the context of building collective strength) and power within (which references an individual’s internal strength). Learning to “see” and understand relations of power is vital to organizing for progressive social change.

  2. Power may also be understood as the ability to influence others and impose one’s beliefs. All power is relational, and the different relationships either reinforce or disrupt one another. The importance of the concept of power to anti-racism is clear: racism cannot be understood without understanding that power is not only an individual relationship but a cultural one, and that power relationships are shifting constantly. Power can be used malignantly and intentionally, but need not be, and individuals within a culture may benefit from power of which they are unaware.

  3. (A) The ability to name or define. (B) The ability to decide. (C) The ability the set the rule, standard, or policy. (D) The ability to change the rule, standard, or policy to serve your needs, wants, or desires. (E) The ability to influence decision makers to make choices in favor of your cause, issue, or concern. Each of these definitions can manifest on personal, social, institutional, or structural levels:  

  • Personal Power - 1. Self-determination. 2. Power that an individual possesses or builds in their personal life and interpersonal relationships.  

  • Social Power - 1. Communal self-determination. 2. A grassroots collective organization of personal power. 3. Power that social groups possess or build among themselves to determine and shape their collective lives.  

  • Institutional Power - 1. Power to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions of an institution. 2. To have institutional power is to be a decision maker or to have great influence upon a decision maker of an institution.  

  • Structural Power - To have structural power is to create and shape the rules, policies, and actions that govern multiple and intersecting institutions or an industry.


SOURCE: 

  1. Intergroup Resources, “Power” (2012).

  2. Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre, “Racism and Power” (2018) / “CARED Glossary” (2020).

  3. Our Shared Language: Social Justice Glossary, YWCA (2016).

Racial Healing

To restore to health or soundness; to repair or set right; to restore to spiritual wholeness.


SOURCE:  Michael R. Wenger, Racial Equity Resource Guide (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2012).


Related Resources:  Addressing Trauma and Healing and Trauma, Violence, and Healing

Locations: ACT / Strategies and PLAN / Issues

Racial Reconciliation

Reconciliation involves three ideas. First, it recognizes that racism in America is both systemic and institutionalized, with far–reaching effects on both political engagement and economic opportunities for minorities. Second, reconciliation is engendered by empowering local communities through relationship-building and truth-telling. Lastly, justice is the essential component of the conciliatory process—justice that is best termed as restorative rather than retributive, while still maintaining its vital punitive character.


SOURCE:  The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Position Statement on Reconciliation (2014).


Related Resources:  Racial Reconciliation

Location: ACT / Strategies

Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by crime and conflict. It places decisions in the hands of those who have been most affected by a wrongdoing, and gives equal concern to the victim, the offender, and the surrounding community. Restorative responses are meant to repair harm, heal broken relationships, and address the underlying reasons for the offense. Restorative Justice emphasizes individual and collective accountability. Crime and conflict generate opportunities to build community and increase grassroots power when restorative practices are employed.


SOURCE:  The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), “Glossary.”


Related Resources:  Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice

Location: ACT / Strategies

White Supremacy Culture

  1. White Supremacy Culture refers to the dominant, unquestioned standards of behavior and ways of functioning embodied by the vast majority of institutions in the United States. These standards may be seen as mainstream, dominant cultural practices; they have evolved from the United States’ history of white supremacy. Because it is so normalized it can be hard to see, which only adds to its powerful hold. In many ways, it is indistinguishable from what we might call U.S. culture or norms – a focus on individuals over groups, for example, or an emphasis on the written word as a form of professional communication. But it operates in even more subtle ways, by actually defining what “normal” is – and likewise, what “professional,” “effective,” or even “good” is. In turn, white culture also defines what is not good, “at risk,” or “unsustainable.” White culture values some ways of thinking, behaving, deciding, and knowing – ways that are more familiar and come more naturally to those from a white, western tradition – while devaluing or rendering invisible other ways. And it does this without ever having to explicitly say so...

  2. An artificial, historically constructed culture which expresses, justifies, and binds together the United States white supremacy system. It is the glue that binds together white-controlled institutions into systems and white-controlled systems into the global white supremacy system.


SOURCE:

1. Gita Gulati-Partee and Maggie Potapchuk, “Paying Attention to White Culture and Privilege: A Missing Link to Advancing Racial Equity” (The Foundation Review vol. 6: issue 1, 2014).

2. Sharon Martinas and the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop, 4th revision (1995).


Related Resources:  Organizational Change Process (see the first section: “Addressing White Dominant Culture”)

Location: ACT / Strategies