With Bush II in office, it’s more crucial than ever that progressives join in and work for change. If you want to get involved, here’s our fifth installment on organizations doing important activist work.
IFCO/Pastors for Peace (Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization)
This group brings progressive racial and ethnic community organizers together with funders. It has garnered support for grassroots groups such as the Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn, N.Y., the only community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people of color in the nation. The organization is also developing “people-to-people foreign policy” by taking caravans of aid to places adversely affected by U.S. foreign policy such as Cuba, Honduras, and the Chiapas region of Mexico.
“In taking these caravans to Cuba, despite the U.S. blockade, we are engaging in a very conscious act of civil disobedience, in the same way we fought for women’s rights, voting rights, and civil rights. We do this with a clear sense that we are acting in the tradition of social justice in this country, which has earned us our most progressive social policies, not because corporate leaders or politicians tried to do the right thing, but because we, as activists, made these things happen. Our domestic projects led us to do international work. Many young activists we work with point to their national origins. We keep our ear to the ground and follow the lead of the grassroots.”
-The Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director
Equality Now is a grassroots organization dedicated to the international human rights of women. With letter and fax campaigns, video witnessing, media events, and public information activities, Equality Now mobilizes action on behalf of women whose rights are being violated. Through the Women’s Action Network, the “nerve center” of Equality Now, information about specific abuses and ongoing violations is transmitted worldwide.
“We feel a huge commitment to women in other parts of the world because our government is so powerful. So to the extent that human rights are a component of foreign policy, we want to see women’s issues raised, and we will work to empower women worldwide. The countrywide, apartheid-like oppression of women in Afghanistan is not generating the outrage in the U.S. that it should be. But if we can’t unite around the tragedy in Afghanistan, what can we unite on? We wrote to Colin Powell and told him our concerns, because we believe that equality should transcend political partisanship. If equality is not an issue for this administration, we want to know why.”
-Jessica Neuwirth, president of the board
October 22nd Coalition
This is a national movement that addresses problems in policing, from racial profiling to the killing of innocent civilians. The coalition’s Stolen Lives Project collects and documents names of those killed by law enforcement. The Speakers Bureau Project brings movement supporters to schools and community centers to speak about police brutality. They also refer people to support groups and lawyers. The October 22nd namesake is the annual nationwide protest supporting those slain by police.
“We need mass resistance. We need to build a movement that gives heart to those who face police brutality 24/7, so they’re empowered to fight back. We also need support from people who may not experience brutality, bu