Thursday, November 06, 2008

Spotlight on The People United

The Obama victory lit a fire under Americans that will change the political playing field forever. But, how? We can't sit back and predict. We can only continue in pursuit of the campaign's promise. It seems like it's being said everywhere that all boats will rise among progressive movements with this electoral sea change. Now, anything is possible. Continuing the spirit of social change, I want to share some recent words from a grassroots Virginia group, The People United. If you're looking for ways to continue organizing for change, here is one among many opportunities:

Let’s Keep Making History, The People United Election Follow-up

To all who worked hard to elect the first ever African-American president, we offer our congratulations. Likewise, to everyone who works hard outside of the arena of electoral politics to address the plethora of injustices that confront our communities, we congratulate you on the important role you have played in awakening the hunger for change that we see all around us. As Obama himself said when visiting Selma, Alabama, he “stands on the shoulders of giants.” Giants like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Anne Braden, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bernard Lafayette. These giants built the grassroots movement that found a distant echo in yesterday’s election.

Against all odds, in this election, we see Virgil Goode, the racist Congressman whose stranglehold on Virginia’s fifth Congressional District looked unassailable until now, in a fight for his seat that is still too close to call. This was due in no small part to the tireless efforts of people like Rhonda Miska, who took a month of her life to work full-time plus without pay on the campaign of Tom Perriello. We also witnessed the defeat of Thelma Drake, who once had Tom Palumbo arrested for simply trying to deliver a petition to her office. We know that Tom and others took precious time away from their anti-war and G.I. rights organizing in Tidewater to make this possible.

The McCain campaign was in many ways an attack on the Left in this country, continually bringing up William Ayers and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and using the labels community organizer and Socialist as a smear. Record numbers of people turned out at the polls to not only register their discontent with the status quo, but to also affirm the value of social justice. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers staffed phone banks and went door to door talking to their neighbors to turn out this vote. Fear did not prevail. We recognize that this, rather than simply in the results of the election, is where we find the real power and potential in this moment. We also recognize that moving forward from this moment, the tasks before us are largely unchanged. We know that together we can build on this new sense of the possible to create new avenues for popular involvement in the decisions that affect us.

The hateful and violent racism we heard from the crowd at McCain rallies represents a vocal and well-organized minority that will continue their work. A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center documents the rise of hate groups and nativist organizations, showing that many have offices here in Virginia. If you remember that the Reagan years were boom times for the peace movement, you’ll understand that an Obama presidency will breathe new life into white supremacist movements. We need to be organized in our response. Engaging white communities around the importance of multiracial organizing for change will be a critically essential task in these coming years.

Plans continue full steam ahead to build a privately-run, 1000-bed immigrant prison in Farmville, where investors will profit from locking up people whose only crime is working to support their families. Obama has yet to articulate a position on our brutal immigrant detention network, and the targeting of immigrants will continue. Join us for the regional meeting in Richmond this Sunday as we gather to strategize our way forward in responding.

We celebrate the victory that was achieved yesterday and we recognize that it’s the swell of organized communities from below that has always turned the tide towards real justice. Today, it is more important than ever that we continue our work to build a diverse, grassroots movement for social justice.

Continuing in the struggle with you, we are The People United.


Regional Meeting to Strategize Resistance to Farmville Prison
Sunday 11/9 at 6:00 pm
Sacred Heart Church - 1401 Perry St. - Richmond, VA


  1. hannah8:09 PM

    Something tells me that their only crime is not just "working to support their families," but rather being in our country illegally.

  2. "our" country?

    It may not be clear on the surface, but America created the conditions that has resulted in millions of undocumented immigrants and we've hardly enforced an immigration policy with any consistency. If we're going to lay claim to the country, then we should take responsibility for the results of our trade policies, for "our country's" dependence on immigrant labor, and develop a greater ability to coexist and appreciate one another.


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