BUILDING A PLAN OF ACTION in a time of crisis

An Initial Synthesis of the sixth Southern Movement Assembly

  • WHERE: Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • WHEN: October 1-2, 2016

  • WHO: 367 community leaders and people fighting on every frontline in every state of the South and beyond

  • WHAT DID WE DO: Two days of convergence that facilitated three rounds of shared thinking

  • FOR WHAT: To build a collective plan of action, a Southern Movement Blueprint that lays out our work and commitments regardless of who gets elected

Hover over a button to see who was represented and why they came!

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Asheville| North Carolina

We regularly make top 10 lists as destination site for tourists or great places to live while continuing to disguise ongoing segregation and oppression (see State of Black Asheville, http://www.stateofblackasheville.org/), food insecurity, and housing crisis.

Click here to read the full Movement Briefing

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Uniontown| Alabama

The citizen’s message was united and clear, it’s time for a change in office to improve our economy, environment, public health & education, and overall quality of life. On August 23rd, Uniontown went to the polls and voted in 2 new Councilors and pushed the Mayor election into a runoff scheduled for October 4th.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Memphis| Tennessee

Black Lives Matter – Memphis

We have a tremendous amount of poverty, blight, school closings, transit cancellations, low voter participation, gun violence, domestic violence, and gentrification.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Chattanooga| Tennessee

Concerned Citizens For Justice

“Chattanooga innovates systems of gentrification…Best town for who?…Nooga has the highest concentration of low-wage workers in the US…

“Look where all the dumps are…Check your community’s mortality and morbidity rates…The pollution is killing us like the police is killing our children in the streets…Your responsibility is to speak for those who cannot…If you cease to care, you lost the movement.”

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Nashville| Tennessee

Feminist Women’s Writers Collective

We do not have a high enough minimum wage and there is almost no affordable housing nor workforce housing available. Many who are homeless have no place to go, and when they live or sleep on public land or places they get arrested or a citation.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Louisville| Kentucky

ANALYSIS: What is happening in your community? What are the problems? What are the assets?

Lives are being taken in the urban Louisville Metro community due to the lack of community and connection among one another as well as the huge disconnect between law enforcement and the areas heavy patrolled. The good thing is that people are becoming more aware of this disconnect and willing to get involved with potential resolutions when presented with them

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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The Ordinary People’s Society| Alabama

People expressed the need for a collaborative movement that bring people together across differences. “We don’t break ground if we don’t walk across boundaries.” The desire and gratitude for people coming together, despite differences of race and religion and age was very loud.

“The movement we have going now is what we need. Parents are hurting, kids are in jail. We need spaces for all of us who have been through something. We need a movement that makes people whole.”  

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Nashville | Tennessee

Healthy and Free Tennessee

After the passage of Amendment 1 in 2014, we’ve seen a number of abortion restrictions introduced including a 48 hour waiting period which is creating burdens and obstacles to abortion particularly for low income and people of color community members.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Johnson City | Tennessee

The powers that be are lining their pockets off the backs of poor folks and by terrorizing communities of color.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Whitesburg | Kentucky

Letcher Governance Project (LGP)

We wish to express solidarity with groups working across the country to change the United States criminal justice system by stating unequivocally that black lives matter to eastern Kentuckians. This country overwhelmingly imprisons more people of color than white people, and we refuse to allow our local economies to be dependent on this form of racist exploitation.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Nashville| Tennessee

Nashville Fair Food

We consider our voice as consumers, young people, and people of faith as a forceful catalyst for change, and leveraging this power is a huge asset for us as a solidarity organization.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Puerto Rico

University Sin Fronteras

We live under a colonial, racist and antidemocratic mentality. Not because of this we ignore international realities. We want that the historical process of our liberation, our more than a dozen of political prisoners, men and women, the stories of tortures and injustice come to light. We want and need that the general process of liberation of Puerto Rican colonialism gets recognized and identified. Not by the ONU and their continuos theatre of Decolonization Committee, but by the other parallel process that are fought simultaneously with ours.

The colossal effort of United State to keep control of Puerto Rico has come to its peak. With a Board Member Control against us. Imposed on June, 30th, 2016. We’ve been military occupied, economically exploited  and culturally silenced.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Puerto Rico|

We discussed the racial and historical beginnings of the now 500+ years old colonial status of Puerto Rico; we discussed the social/political/cultural consequences that said relationship has caused –and will continue to aggravate- on the puertorrican people; we also established possible contributions to bring about the decolonization of the puertorrican nation and the puertorrican people.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing

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Montgomery| Alabama

Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative | Alabama Statewide Conference

People stood and testified to specific frontlines that they are organizing around:

  • Public infrastructure crumbling
  • Lack of Employment
  • Failing Education and no spaces for young people
  • Violence
  • War on Immigrants
  • Political power

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing!

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Nashville| Tennessee

SURJ Nashville

SURJ members are deeply concerned about systemically embedded racism in the institutions that make up our communities and our city. We know that our city’s budget directly reflects this institutional racism, and continues to promote reactionary false solutions to racial oppression, state sanctioned violence, and the over-incarceration of people of color in our region.

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing.

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Clarkston| Georgia

Women Watch Afrika

Both the mothers and the young people agreed that the lack of respect and the racial profiling they receive from the police is wrong.  One youth reported, “I know people of different races who love guns and they are not stopped by police.  But they ask Black men for IDs countless times.”

…How do we protect and defend our children, women, sisters, and communities from being victims?

Click the button to read the full Movement Briefing!

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Nashville| Tennessee

Worker’s Dignity and Music City Riders United

Who attended the Assembly and what are they concerned about?

The transit system is dehumanizing our people. The transit system is getting grant money and only some of it is going to the operations to fix some of the problems.

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Hello Racism | Atlanta

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Youth Community Action Program | Atlanta

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Little Rock Collective Liberation | Arkansas

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STAY Project | Appalachia

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Spirit House | Durham, NC

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Dream Defenders | Central FL

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Project South| Atlanta, GA

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Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy| Slidell , LA

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New Economy Coalition and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth | Kentucky / National

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Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network| Montgomery, AL

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Healthcare-NOW and National Nurses Organizing Committee| National

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The Village Scholars Academia/ FlyySexualityTV| Louisville, KY

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The McElroy House| Russellville, Arkansas

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Hondo Empowerment Network| Hondo

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New Danger| Orangeburg

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University Sin Fronteras| San Antonio

“Capitalism has failed us….”

The following statement is an initial synthesis of the many hours of work before, during, and after the sixth Southern Movement Assembly. A more comprehensive Southern Movement Blueprint is being developed.

The Southern Freedom Movement in the 21st century echoes Fannie Lou Hamer’s declaration, “Nobody is free until everybody is free.” More than a slogan, we believe that her words call us to claim our political commitment to move together. Knowing that we face different angles of injustice, we are stronger when we come together. The sixth assembly embodied that spirit of converging frontlines and experiences. The assembly of 367 people emboldened us to see the power of our people and believe in our visions of a South where we make decisions about the issues that affect our lives; everyone has what they need to survive and thrive; and where people live and move with safety and the power to defend ourselves from state violence.

Community quilts named hundreds of people killed by police over the last year; healing spaces vibrated with trauma and response; the children’s assembly gathered the visions of our youngest members; and clear, filtered water was available in every corner of the church. We built a liberated space to show ourselves that we have what we need. We named the attacks and harm that happen to our communities, our bodies, our land, and our psyches. We stretched our imaginations to envision a world of cooperation, access, political power, and community governance. We struggled to identify strategies that match the needs of the moment, dismantle oppressive systems, and build long-term infrastructure to achieve our vision.

“If the truth is going to set us free, we must first recognize that as we close our fists, we are raising our fists, raising our consciousness, and continuing to raise Holy Hell.” – Pastor Charlotte Williams, Eastdale Village Community Church in Chattanooga

A sense of urgency permeated the Eastdale Village Community Church where we gathered for two days in early October. We named who we are and the communities we represent. We are young, old, poor, immigrants, refugees, organizers, queer and trans folk, cultural alchemists, farmers, and workers. We represent our families, our hometowns, our organizations, our cooperatives, and our people in struggle.

We named the massive problems facing our communities, including isolation, state and vigilante violence, voter suppression, and white supremacy. The lack of quality and equitable jobs, healthcare, housing, and education is at the heart of structural racism and generations of poverty, and public systems that have failed our communities. We agreed that enough is enough, we can no longer be dependent on these systems. We recognized that we have resources within our communities that we can share and expand.

We named specific targets: corporate entities, banks, and corrupt politicians who exploit and profit off our people through prison expansion, extractive industries, police brutality, militarization, and gentrification. We named these targets knowing that sometimes their strength is in their invisibility, and our blueprint will include the names we seek to dismantle or transform.

We also recognized our multiple struggles and came to a deeper understanding with a circular view of how all issues are connected. Our consciousness grew clearer that we cannot afford to divide up our people, principles, or struggles, and we desire be part of something that lives up to what we believe is possible.

“We want an economy that takes care of people as human beings.  We want to build cooperative systems that offer good food to everyone.  And to create our own economic infrastructure in our communities so we can support our families.” – Ruben Solis, University Sin Fronteras

“If you want to know what a Peoples Democracy looks like, look around you. You have to be able to see yourselves in it.  It’s not just the rich, the powerful.  All of us are gathered here to build a new structure. There has to be something standing when the old structure falls.  We are here as part of building it.”  – Suzanne Pharr, National Council of Elders

The Southern Movement Assembly is revealing what liberation looks like. The participants brought a strong energy strengthened by the realization that the Assembly is a step towards a vision of liberated space. A space where we come together and see one another, share and support one another, work together to create solutions, and fill each other up with fuel and the spirit to carry on.

Our visions indicate practical steps that our communities can take to increase autonomy and protection from systems that harm us. Assembly participants described autonomous spaces, harm-free zones, and centers where communities can gather resources, provide education, training, as well as mental, spiritual, and physical support. We envisioned community control of land, water, and food, and called for redefining work as part of building a new social economy with the most affected communities at the forefront.

Our visions call for universal citizenship and transformative justice to replace borders and policing. And our visions include ways of re-arranging systems in ways that lead towards coordinated local governance, using local assemblies as the bedrock of civic participation and governance. With economic power and political power growing from the grassroots, we will determine reparations for harm and coordinate collective action that builds infrastructure to support community-based economies, accountability, and access to basic needs.

“We are building a blueprint that will show us how to protect and defend our communities. One Black life lost is too many. What kind of education can we take from this Assembly that will help us protect and defend ourselves and our communities so we won’t lose any more lives?  How can we take control of our neighborhoods?  How do we develop neighborhood self-help centers? How do we organize a paralysis of the economy without losing any lives?“ – Glory Kilanko, Women Watch Afrika

How will we achieve these visions? The Southern Peoples Initiatives represents the combined efforts on multiple frontlines to organize for systems that liberate rather than oppress. Our communities are implementing short-term strategies to contend with the most immediate and pressing needs while also planning and taking steps on a longer path to full liberation. We committed to implementing a cohesive plan of action in 2017 of coordinated assemblies, convergence spaces, and simultaneous strategic hits over the next year.

We recognize and believe that there are many tactics, action steps, and methods for moving towards our shared visions. We also made it very clear that we need spaces to learn and to build up our skills so that our collective actions are more meaningful and rooted in people’s growing understanding of what is happening. We are clear that more spaces for education are needed in every community to deepen our skills, and our political analysis of how we got here.

We are committed to building plans that disinvest in the systems that oppress us and demand re-investment in our solutions. We also committed to do more than just show up for each other by building common actions that integrate our struggles. Participants agreed that we need to collectivize and share our knowledge, organize practitioners to contribute to shared community centers, and to participate actively in decision-making spaces. The call was strong to develop liberated community-based centers to strengthen our new economies, grow our local governance, and provide space to respond to conflict and protect ourselves from violence.

As an Assembly representing local communities and the U.S. South, we align with partners in the Up South and the Global South. The sixth Southern Movement Assembly affirmed the need to develop a shared Southern Movement Blueprint that will map our way forward. Throughout the SMA, we affirmed the practice of liberation, and we committed to channeling the synergy of our work. Anchor organizations, participating organizations, and partners are welcome to contribute towards a movement blueprint that addresses the crises of our time.

“Think about the commitments you made to fight for liberation. To uphold the Principles of Unity. Think about the impact this assembly will have on you, your people, your city or county, your state, the South you live in. The country you want it to be.  What are we going to carry home from this sacred space?”  – Ash-Lee Henderson, Project South & Concerned Citizens for Justice