2020 Program Topic:
Civil Rights and Legal Strategies
All times Eastern Standard Time.
Tuesday November 10
In Minneapolis, as in so many other places around the country, the Movement for Black Lives responded to police murders of Black people - like Jamar Clark and Philando Castile - in ways that have transformed the political landscape and resurfaced deep questions about the role of police in our communities. Anchored by Black Visions Collective, MPD150, and Reclaim the Block, our organizing in Minneapolis has shifted from short-term reactions in the streets to changing the narrative around community safety and social control with long-haul abolitionist movement building.
Presenters from these organizations will share lessons we have learned and facilitate the group as we dig into questions like: How do we use art and stories to help our communities and decision makers imagine a world without police? What do we do when those in power who claim to be allies to our movement or represent the communities we come from don’t deliver on their promises? How can a grassroots narrative-based strategy deliver change at the level of budgets and policies?
After this workshop, participants will be able to: explain the historical connection between white supremacy and policing; guide questions and answers in discussions that make tangible the vision of a police-free world; envision campaign designs that change the narrative from one of police reform to one with real community-based alternatives to the police.
The American two-party system is bad for anyone who cares about racial equity. It creates a dynamic whereby one party is hostile and the other gives lip service, but believes it can take the votes of people of color for granted. Moving beyond our current system, “first-past-the-post”, which is a holdover from our British colonial history, may seem impossible. But, in fact, communities across the country have experimented with many reforms. One promising voting system, proportional representation, was implemented in New York City in the 1930’s. It is credited with the election of the first woman and the first people of color elected to city council - including Ben Davis, a black member of the Communist Party.
The workshop provides a crash course for advocates to learn about the ins and outs of electoral systems reform as it relates to racial equity. First, we will cover the range of values implicit in electoral systems, review the mechanics of the major ones in the US, and run an election to provide some hand-on experience. We will then discuss the implication of electoral systems on voting rights and building political power for communities of color and show a short documentary on a recent reform in Michigan. The session will end with some opportunities for making change happen in your communities.
Wednesday November 11
A critical role that community organizations play is to develop grassroots leaders and their capacity for racial justice analysis. This requires taking the time and space to examine the roots of racism in our society and to understand how it operates today. This
session will feature a political education module aimed at deepening an understanding of the formation and nature of systemic racism using the history of 17th Century Virginia. We will then discuss how this curriculum was used by community organizations in
In 'Abolitionist Change Strategy Lab' we will share stories about powerful experiments in pushing back on policing, jails, prisons, and the ways criminalization and incarceration are hurting our communities while we build the world we need.
Durham Beyond Policing is a grassroots coalition to divest from policing and prisons and reinvest municipal resources into supporting the health and wellbeing of Black & Brown communities, benefiting all community members. In 2019 we organized Durham residents to keep our Southern city from hiring 72 new police officers and invested those resources instead in eviction diversion and living wages for city workers. We'll share the story of our ongoing abolitionist organizing efforts as a case study to explore together.
This workshop will unpack the concept of abolitionist change and will feature stories from multiple sites across the United States. We'll invite candid conversation among presenters and participants about the contradictions, challenges, and complexities we are navigating. Bring your stories! We'll share what's inspiring us and keeping us united even when the work is tiring or heartbreaking.
Thursday November 12
Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at the #KeepAleFree campaign, a national effort to build pathways of protection from deportation for reproductive justice organizer Alejandra Pablos. Team members Gloria, Yvette, Ale & Castro will dive through the campaign's intersectional organizing work (legal, communications & ground organizing) and how they use cultural digital organizing to creatively disrupt the mainstream portrayals around immigration, criminalization, and reproductive justice. The team engages in this work through a perspective that is dedicated to dismantling prison, detention centers, and governmental agencies.