On Monday, November 20, the Law & Organizing Initiative of the Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project held a virtual conversation on Power-Building for the Long Haul, featuring Rachel Gilmer (Dream Defenders), Astra Taylor (Debt Collective), and Tara Raghuveer (KC Tenants), and moderated by Yale Professor of American Studies Daniel Martinez HoSang.
Building powerful movements for racial and economic justice requires organizing mass numbers of people with a stake in the fight. This conversation asked how movement organizations are base-building for the long haul in the face of stark inequality, deep divisions, and waves of backlash: what does it take to bring in new members and develop leaders? How does an organized base of members decide strategy? What are the tensions between fighting for material wins in the here-and-now, and collectively determining a vision for long-term transformation?
Rachel Gilmer is Director of the Healing and Justice Center, a community-based public safety program in Miami working to reduce violence without the carceral system and build power for working class Black people, and was previously the Co-Executive Director of Dream Defenders, a membership-based organization of Black, brown, and working-class youth, young adults and students fighting for community safety and freedom across Florida and nationally.
Astra Taylor is Co-Founder of the Debt Collective, a national debtors’ union fighting to cancel debt and defend millions of households, and a a writer, filmmaker, and political organizer. Her latest book is The Age of Insecurity: Coming Together as Things Fall Apart.
Tara Raghuveer is founding Director of KC Tenants, a citywide tenant union of poor and working-class tenants organizing to ensure everyone in Kansas City has a safe, accessible, and truly affordable home. Tara also directs the Homes Guarantee, which organizes with 50+ tenant unions across 24 states.
This virtual event launched the LPE Project’s Law & Organizing Initiative, which seeks to create more space for organizing as a practice and theory of change in law schools. To receive updates on our work, please sign up here.