April 1, 2016
For immediate release
For more information contact:
Ash-Lee Henderson, Project South Regional Organizer
Southern People’s Initiatives: Building a Southern Freedom Movement for the 21st Century
Communities unite to protect and defend themselves against state violence, create peoples democracies and social movement governance, and build a new social economy
When: The Southern People’s Initiatives launch on April 4th, 2016
Where: Across the South
Who: Members of the Southern Movement Assembly
As hostility and violence intensifies in all our communities, from climate disaster and deportations to police killings and generational poverty, Southern movements are rising. Organizations are coordinating across borders and beyond single issues to demand justice and to build a better world.
In the South, it’s not just about a confederate flag. The Southern People’s Initiative confronts the historic realities of poverty and racism that manifest today in destructive policies, widespread voter suppression, and a dangerous social climate.
It will take a people’s movement to dismantle injustice and build a new economy, a true democracy, and protected communities. On April 4th, the Southern Movement Assembly invites communities and organizations to sign-on to the Southern Peoples Initiative and connect the powerful work happening across the region.
“When we come together, we are stronger. When we connect the issues that are happening in every community, we can create solutions for long-term change. Sometimes we face each battle as if it is new, isolated, or an aberration of some kind. We are coming together across cultures, geographies, and issues in order to learn more about our common struggles and to apply the lessons of our shared histories. We are building a movement strong enough to build the world we know is possible,” says Ash-Lee Henderson, Regional Organizer with Project South.
What are the Southern People’s Initiatives?
May 1st Initiative for a New Social Economy
In the South, we live in an economic reality that has been defined by slavery, privatization, and Right to Work laws that exploit people, workers, and undocumented migrants. The Southern Movement Assembly coordinates a just transition from extractive and exploitative economics to build new institutions like cooperatives, practice community-based agriculture, and develop education to generate knowledge and strategies for a people’s economy. #NewEconomy
People’s Democracy Initiative for Power & Movement Governance
In 2016, Southern organizations are challenging legal barriers to political participation, expanding civic engagement beyond the vote, organizing voter education and mobilization campaigns to include communities that are most marginalized, and practicing local and neighborhood assemblies that will deepen our public and civic engagement year-round. The Peoples 100 Day Countdown from August 1 to November 8 will educate communities about democracy, center people’s real life stories of resistance in the national dialogue, and organize collective actions that build power in all our communities. #PeoplesDemocracy
Protect & Defend Initiative to End State Violence
Violence is foundational to U.S. history and impacts our communities every day. The Southern Movement Assembly calls for a coordinated effort to reduce the impact and eventually eliminate state violence in all its forms, including mass incarceration and social control, medical violence on our bodies, and military violence in our communities and globally. This initiative focuses on coordinating community resistance to violence, disaster preparedness, rapid response to crisis, and education to address systemic impunity. #Protect&Defend
Where did this plan come from?
“From the streets to the courthouse to the schoolhouse to our own homes and churches, Southern communities declare ‘Enough is Enough!’ The Southern People’s Initiatives represent the synthesis of over three years of collective work to develop a plan of action,” says Rev. Kenneth Glasgow of The Ordinary Peoples Society in Dothan AL.
Since 2012, hundreds of community leaders in the South have gathered at five Southern Movement Assemblies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. At each assembly, people discuss the pressing issues of our time, develop bold visions for change, and commit to action steps to build power.
The Southern Movement Assembly has been building power across the South since 2012. In that time, SMA has engaged over 20,000 people from more than 13 states in assemblies, trainings, popular education and actions. Southern Movement Assembly anchor organizations invite you to participate in the Southern Peoples Initiative, as set of broad, multi-issue, Southern wide initiatives to stop the attacks on our people and grow the power of our communities in 2016.
Organizations anchoring the Southern Movement Assembly & Southern Peoples Initiative:
- Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide (Regional, based in Georgia)
- National Council of Elders—South
- Georgia Citizen’s Coalition on Hunger (Georgia)
- Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (Louisiana)
- The Ordinary People’s Society (Alabama)
- Southwest Workers’ Union (Texas)
- Women Watch Afrika (Georgia)
- The New Jim Crow Movement & Free Marissa Now Campaign (Florida)
- University Sin Fronteras (Regional)
- Concerned Citizens for Justice (Tennessee)
- Alternate ROOTS (Regional)
- Black Workers for Justice (North Carolina)
- SpiritHouse (North Carolina)
- Crescent City Media Group (Louisiana)