Guiding Principles of the Southern Movement Assembly
The principles that connect the members of the Southern Movement Assembly reflect many years of organizational partnerships and a synthesis of ideas based in collective practice and historical example. The principles serve to name who we are, what we believe, and our purpose for working together to regenerate and advance the Southern Freedom Movement in the 21st Century. Affirming these principles affirms the foundational belief that we are stronger together, and we do not want to do this alone. To work and be together is a political decision; we are not doing it for either comfort or practicality. These principles will be evaluated & evolved periodically.
We believe remembering and regenerating our movement history is critical. We recognize the long-term legacies and the most recent work that led to this moment.
We value and practice transparency.
We strive to distinguish between perception and reality.
We respect and support locally-based leadership. Place & space matter, and we recognize the unique histories of the South and local sites.
We create spaces to assemble so that people can voice our truths and bring our whole selves.
We stand against criminalizing our people in any way.
We recognize and respect the self-determination of each organization and strive to engage in principled dialogue when disagreement or conflict is a barrier to collective action.
We believe political direction is determined by big picture analysis grounded in struggle to dismantle white supremacy, economic exploitation, and colonialism while simultaneously building decolonization processes for liberation of all people.
We believe no one should be excluded from any form of governance that makes decisions about their lives.
We believe in and respect the diversity of tactics and strategies as we are working for liberation. We believe there are many ways to do this work.
We respect the different organizing choices and traditions of our member organizations.
We recognize and value the skills, contributions, and resources that each community, individual and organization brings and will prioritize Collective Accessibility in how and where we assemble and share information.
We commit to maximizing those contributions for our collective goals.
We will defend the ground we have gained through struggle, and we will create and practice new forms of participation and governance that include and serve all of us.
The Southern Movement Assembly is a form of movement governance infrastructure that includes:
- A Governance Council that meets weekly by phone to govern the SMA process. We meet face-to-face on an annual or semi-annual basis, and between assemblies, we form organizing and other work teams to support SMA work.
- South Movement Assembly for Southern Freedom Movement Convergence. SMAs happen at the pace determined through our movement work. Anchor organizations & organizations that have participated as action sites or at different capacities during organizing seasons attend the assembly to assess where we are as a Southern Movement Assembly and make plans for future work.
- Rapid Response for Movement Self-defense and Power. We practice rapid response to contend with crisis and opportunity. Walk for Dignity was our first practice in 2013 around this idea. The idea was rooted in our collective analysis of movement lessons we learned from Gulf Coast Disaster.
- Coordinated Action, Strategies, & Work. This has included everything from the People’s First 100 Days Campaign in 2013; the On the Road Tour in 2014, annual Organizing Intensives, a shared Communications platform (southtosouth.org), the Selma Bloody Sunday 50th Commemoration Convergence in 2015, Summer Organizing Drives, Movement Education efforts, SMA flanking of the Gulf South Rising initiative, etc.
Organizing and base-building to grow our numbers & leadership
Creating liberatory education
Creating new communication infrastructure
Facilitating community, local, and thematic assemblies
Building & cross-pollinating our relationships for greater impact
Increasing capacity for and testing collaborative rapid response to crisis and opportunity
COLLABORATION | We are stronger together than we are separate.
CONVERGENCE | We fortify our movements by gathering, sharing, learning.
SELF-DETERMINATION | We honor the autonomy of organizations.
INNOVATION | We learn from history and we take risks.
DECENTRALIZED COORDINATION | We reflect bottom-up movement building.
What is the Governance Council?
Anchor Organizations align with the Principles of Unity, meet weekly and provide strategic direction, accumulate political analysis, initiate rapid response when needed, and coordinate the annual SMA,
Organizing Intensive, and Work Teams. (17 active anchors as of June 2017) These organizations make up the Governance Council which meets weekly.