The Gathering for Justice - The Civil Rights Movement Is Not Dead
by Sheila Musaji
On December 1, 2007 I was honored to be able to attend the ACLU Bill of Rights Celebration in St. Louis, featuring Harry Belafonte. He spoke for over an hour and it wasn’t long enough. He spoke about the history of the civil rights movement, the gains it had made, and then the slow erosion of those gains over time. He also spoke at length about a new movement called The Gathering for Justice. This is a movement that deserves more attention.
Official website of The Gathering for Justice
Mission Statement: The Gathering: A Movement for Coordination to Engage Organizations in a Common Covenant for Justice and Ending Child Incarceration. Civil rights and social justice organizations have come to understand that collective action on a national basis is required to stop child incarceration and challenge the immoral process which perpetuates an unjust justice system. These groups are working under extremely difficult circumstances and many of them with little or no resources. The Gathering is a national movement that creates a coordinated space to 1) fortify relationships between regional groups, 2) support local endeavors and 3) enhance the ongoing organizing of non-violent direct action training. Central to its mission is strengthening our moral environment.
Gatherings that have been held to date:
There have been six Gatherings, and collectively over six thousand youth leaders representing a large national constituency and two hundred elders with a personal history of engagement in social action organizations, have come together and declared their commitment to this mobilization.
The first gathering in Atlanta, was the Gathering of the Elders. In attendance were 200 national leaders not only representing the wisdom of history but also declaring their commitment and support to the objectives of the mission.
The second was the Gathering of the Youth in Epps, Alabama. This region, which gave birth to the black resistance movement and civil rights mobilization efforts, became the launch for the idea of becoming a national movement.
The third was the youth Gathering in Santa Cruz, CA. Hosted by the Latino community, the young people, continuing the traditions of Cesar Chavez and the Mexican Farm Workers Movement and reinforced by the leaders and members of Barrios Unidos, expanded on the experiences derived from Epps, Alabama.
The fourth was hosted by the Onondaga Nation. The young people of this Indian nation along with their Chiefs and Clan Mothers focused the group on the history of the Indigenous peoples of the United States and helped the visiting youth further understand the need for common bonding between all groups.
The fifth was at Alex Haley Farm in Tennessee. Young people gathered from the regions of Appalachia which gave the white community of coal miners and those victimized by justice miscarried, the opportunity to instruct all of those gathered about the commonality of class experiences across racial lines.
The last gathering of this series was held in Orange County, CA. Young leaders from the Asian American community put before the group thoughts and idea’s that helped us understand the complexities and diversity of their community. Powerful parallels of their civil and human rights struggle in this country were revealed to all those in attendance.
The key outcomes measure the advance towards our mission: Identification, recruitment and training of activists working on justices issues towards coordination and mutual support. Rigorous policy research and support of policy at the local and national level. Successful shifts in policy at the local and national level.
There have been 3 strategies identified for The Gathering to bring added value to the movement:
1. Organize regional and national conferences to fortify local relationships nationally
2. Increased coordination with organizations using web based tools
3. Support local and national policy solutions advocated by The Gathering partners with coordinated non-violent direct action.
Organizations currently participating in The Gathering for Justice
- The Advancement Project
- Barrios Unidos
- The Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice, Fairness, and Equity
- Campaign Against Violence
- The Cayuga Nation
- Federation of Southern Cooperative Farmers
- Homeboy Industries
- Hopi American Indian Project
- La Plazita
- The League of Pissed Off Voters
- The Mohawk Nation
- The Onondaga Nation
- Prison Moratorium Project
- SEIU Union
- Simba Circle
- St. Sabina: The Beloved Community
- The Taino Nation
- Unity One
- The Vanguard Foundation
- Young Peoples Project
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