Why Black-Led Organizing?

The Black community needs to build the necessary institutional and political power in order to make Black lives matter and for the Black community to thrive in this country. This comes through strengthening and building a wide array of powerful Black-led social change organizations that are well resourced, connected and in partnership with allied organizations.  In order to do this there needs to be an explicit focus on strengthening and cultivating Black-led power building organizations, leaders, campaigns, cultural production, strategic analysis and narrative framing. The infrastructure for Black social change has diminished over the last several decades, in part due to the under-resourcing of Black led social change organizations. This has helped create a capacity conundrum for Black led social change organizations and a practice of giving grants to more established, non-Black led groups to win policy campaigns in and for the Black community. Black-led community organizing organizations are uniquely suited to invigorate and expand the pipeline of Black social change leaders that will organize to secure the changes in policy and institutional practices to help Black communities to thrive and develop and advance a transformative vision and alternative narratives for social, racial, gender, economic justice and political accountability.

As the call for an explicit focus on Black led social change has been increasing, there have been questions about the strategic prudence of this approach, especially in relation to the desire to foster multi-racial power building.  However, as the institutional and political power of the Black community increases, so too does the strength and effectiveness of multi-racial coalitions that Black organizations and leaders are a part of. The converse is also true - the strength and effectiveness of multi-racial coalitions is limited, in equal measure, by the relatively weak infrastructure for Black institutional and political power. Therefore, a focus on strengthening Black institutional and political power has the dual effect of addressing the specific issues impacting the Black community and expanding the capacity for multi-racial coalitions to address racial and social justice issues writ large. Moreover, a strong Black-led infrastructure for social change is essential for achieving the most ambitious goals of the progressive movement overall. In short, "when Black people get free, we all get free."

Frederick Douglas said that “Power concedes nothing without demand.” And we would add that a demand means nothing without power. Once the Black community develops the necessary power to hold institutions accountable for devaluing Black life across the broad spectrum of society, then the community can start to chart a sustainable path to dismantle the policies and practices of anti-Black structural racism and create life affirming alternatives that will allow Black communities to thrive, and for all people to thrive.

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