Monday, March 21, 2011

From Civil Rights to Economic and Environmental Justice: Ongoing Organizing in the African American Community

Compiled by Aissia Richardson


"We are dedicated to the principle that relationships of respect, compassion, and integrity are the building blocks of personal and global harmony. We hold that democracy is not just a political system but also a personal commitment—a continual exercise in freedom of conscience, thought, and moral responsibility expressed through humane deeds. We seek to promote personal moral development and social responsibility through direct assistance, social action, and public advocacy."

This except is from a statement on where Ethical Culture/Ethical Humanism stands at the beginning of the 21st century. Adopted by the National Leader’s Council of the American Ethical Union, November 1, 2008

The perception that organizing in the African American community began with the Civil Rights Movement is a false one. Organizing began when slaves were brought to America. Whether it was forming churches, working to raise funds to free themselves and family members, creating escape plans on the Underground Rail Road, leading mass uprisings against slave owners or starting the Abolitionist Movement, organizing in the African American community is an ongoing effort to attain equity in America. In the Philadelphia region several African American organizations are addressing Food Justice/Sovereignty such as Chester's Community Grocery Co-op, Economic Justice for the formerly incarcerated such as X-Offenders for Community Empowerment and Overbrook Environmental Education Center which is at the forefront of the burgeoning Environmental Justice movement in low income and communities of color. In addition to the groups mentioned above the African American United Fund employs the organizing strategy of resource and capacity building to empower its constituents and Frator Heru Institute uses the cultural empowerment organizing model to foster social change.

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