Thursday, September 4, 2008

In defense of the Community Organizer...

The NAACP is a non-partisan organization and that is something that I take very seriously. Long-time readers of the blog will note that we have rarely dealt with the subject of National Electoral politics. However, last night I heard something that deeply disturbed me and I feel compelled to speak about it. I heard two National political figures mock and ridicule community organizing as though the very endeavour were insignificant.

As they sarcastically derided the concept, I couldn't help but think about the countless men and women who freely give of their time, usually for little or no money, at tremendous risk to themselves and their reputations, in an effort to help others help themselves. Community Organizers are the men and women who make personal sacrifices to gather people around common ideas and ideals, and work collectively to bring about much needed changes in their respective societies. Organizers are often the voice of the voiceless, the inescapable presence of those too often ignored, and the lightning rod for the untoward.

As someone who readily volunteers between 20 and 30 hours per week to agitate, advocate, and organize for the betterment of my community and someone who aspires to live a life in that mold, I was terribly disturbed by the comments of Mayor Giulianni and Governor Palin as they glibly derided community organizing as trivial or meaningless. My offense was not merely on behalf of the efforts of our local group, but was on behalf of those who I consider as 'my' heroes... Those who have given their time, their money, and some even their lives, to make a better world for me and my children. They may not have enjoyed the prestige or influence of having been an elected official, but they shall never be reducible to a punchline...

And so it is with gratitude and appreciation I offer this brief list of names, in no particular order, of just a few of the many community organizers who have given without receiving, who have fought without reward, and who have struggled and sacrificed so we wouldn't have to...


Abigal Adams
Harriet Tubman
Sengbe Pieh
Frederick Douglass
Jane Addams
A Phillip Randolph
Elisabeth Caddie Stanton
Sojouner Truth
WEB DuBois
Bayard Rustin
Steve Biko
Susan B Anthony
Ralph Nader
Mary White Ovington
Harry T. & Harriette Moore
Myles Horton
Ralph Abernathy
Mahatma Gandi
Aung San Suu Kyi
John Lewis
Ida B Wells
George Wiley
Martin Luther King
Malcolm X
Sarah Grimke
Nelson Mandela
Medgar Evers
Carrie Chapman Catt
Ben Hooks
Chester Lewis
Wade Rathke
Dolores Huerta
Caesar Chavez
Marva Collins
Fred Shuttlesworth
Nelson Rivers
Maude Hurd

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Jung/Myers Briggs

INTJ - "Mastermind". Introverted intellectual with a preference for finding certainty. A builder of systems and the applier of theoretical models. 2.1% of total population.
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