A new book offers practical tips on how to organize — and cast spells — for equality and the environment.
“Investigations are coming — there’s no question,” says Roosevelt Institute Fellow Dorian Warren. And not just investigations into Trump’s tax returns, but examinations of the harm federal agencies have been doing to America’s communities.
For Oneil Cannon, breaking the color line of L.A.’s lily-white printers’ union didn’t simply mean facing a night of scalding verbal abuse during his first union hall meeting – moments before it began he’d been refused service at knifepoint at a nearby restaurant. Jackie Goldberg says her activist’s DNA was shaped less by Berkeley’s celebrated Free Speech Movement than by a little-noticed women’s conference held the year before the U.C. campus erupted. Peter Douglas’ journey from the frozen roads of war-torn Poland to Redondo Beach’s balmy Esplanade led the father of California’s Coastal Act to become a “radical pagan heretic.”
These and more than 40 other reminiscences by Southern California social activists have been recorded by Julie Thompson and her husband, Brogan de Paor, as part of an ambitious yet shoestring-funded project called the Activist Video Archive. So far the couple’s subjects have also included Haskell Wexler, Cheri Gaulke,
Last Saturday’s commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington spotlighted the power of grassroots activism. But it was no exercise in nostalgia. Activists are pushing for social change across the nation, and I discuss dozens of these campaigns in my new book, The Activist’s Handbook, Second Edition: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, officially released today by UC Press. The book thoroughly revises and updates the 1996 edition, which the late Howard Zinn praised as “enormously valuable for anyone interested in social change.” The new edition adds my analysis of the strategies used by social movements around immigration reform, gay and lesbian rights, the Keystone XL Pipeline, school “reform” and other campaigns that really took off in the past decade.
While some believe the past 15 years have weakened the power of grassroots activism against big moneyed interests, I disagree. In fact, in writing the new book I realized that activism has increased since the original edition,
On the most recent Moyers and Company, Bill Moyers turned his attention to the ways underdog communities have organized themselves to win economic victories – in often hostile political environments. Moyers first spoke with Marshall Ganz, the veteran civil rights and United Farm Workers organizer; he then interviewed Madeline Janis, co-founder of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, and affordable-housing activist Rachel LaForest.
Ganz, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, based his organizing techniques on the moral teachings of his father, who was a rabbi, and on the need to transfer personal narratives onto organizing campaigns. Janis and LaForest have combined traditional organizing techniques with the practical need to adapt to fluid local situations.
As Janis told Moyers:
“You have a struggling housekeeper in a hotel who cleans 25 rooms in a day and barely puts food on the table. The idea of her being able to fight for better working conditions — a union in her hotel,