Anne Braden Program FAQ

Get all the facts about our upcoming 2009 Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training Program! 


Frequently Asked Questions about the Anne Braden Program

Who was Anne Braden?

Anne Braden was a white anti-racist organizer and leader in racial justice movements rooted in communities of color in the South, including the Civil Rights Movement.  She brought a working-class based socialist analysis and community-organizing model to the struggle of rooting out racism in the hearts and minds of white people, and worked from the perspective that white people have a self-interest in dismantling white supremacy.  Anne Braden's legacy as a white anti-racist organizer has deeply inspired Catalyst Project and many of our comrades. In naming our program after her, we hope to honor her memory and the movements of which she was a part.  

Who is the Anne Braden program for?  

The Anne Braden Anti-Racism Training program is designed for white social justice activists who are already involved in political work, and looking for ways to bring a deeper racial justice analysis and practice to what they do.  The program will be rooted in the politics of anti-imperialism from which Catalyst Project operates – a framework that focuses on challenging white supremacy in an overall anti-oppression and pro-liberation politics.  This will not be a series of “101” style workshops, but rather an intensive political education and leadership development experience.  

What are the goals of Anne Braden program?
Our goals for this political education program are:
•    To provide a program that will support participants in developing an overall radical political analysis, organizing skills, and ability to think strategically.
•    To present lessons and insights from different political traditions, study histories of resistance in the United States, and give people tools to develop their own vision and strategy.
•    To create a program that can support white people to operate from a holistic political analysis of injustice and liberation and have the confidence, skills and capacity to implement that analysis into strategic action that will build movements for justice.
•    To build more accountable, confident, self-aware and effective leaders, who can affect change in mostly white organizations, who are effective in working class and multiracial organizing, and who have skills to move anti-racist politics and practice in different areas.
•    To contribute to the building of a national network of accountable, principled white anti-racist social justice organizers and activists.

What will the training program include?
•    Volunteer Placements: Anne Braden Program participants will be placed at left community organizations in the Bay Area where they will learn about different organizing strategies and work.  Participants will learn more about grassroots organizing and gain experience in identifying ways white activists can engage in principled organizing work within multi-racial organizations.
•    Mentorship: Participants will be paired with white anti-racist activists and organizers who are doing social/racial justice work.  Mentors will meet with participants to discuss the volunteer placement and the Anne Braden program, and to generally support the development of the participants through the program.
•    Organizing and Organizing Skills:  Participants will connect their vision and analysis with strategy and organization. They will develop a basic understanding of different kinds of organizations and different strategies, including principles of organizing such as accountability.  In doing so, participants will increase their ability to be effective organizers for justice.
•    Grassroots Fundraising:  Participants will develop their skills by fundraising to help cover the costs of the program.  Participants will get training and support around creative ways to raise money and develop tools useful in sustaining social justice organizations.  
•    Analysis of Systems of Oppression and Privilege:  Program participants will undergo an intensive education in understanding systems of oppression and privilege, with a focus on capitalism and imperialism and how race, class and gender operate within these systems.  This component of the program will lay the groundwork for participants to develop their own analyses of oppression and privilege, and begin to understand how white privilege and white supremacy operate in U.S. institutions and within social justice movements today.  We will study these systems within a framework of collective liberation that recognizes the interdependence of our struggles and liberation.
•    Histories of Resistance and Liberation and Movements Today: Participants will undergo focused study on the history of multiracial working class resistance movements, global justice movements, and legacies of white anti-racist history. By studying histories of resistance in multiple contexts, participants will further develop their understanding of oppression and liberation, and will increase their own capacity as anti-racist white leaders.
•    Political Vision:  Participants will engage in focused work to understand the role and value of vision and tools to help them begin to articulate their own visions of a just world.  An overview will be provided of many of different organizing traditions and the visions they embodied.
•    Guest Presenters and Speakers: Local organizers and activists will routinely present on certain pieces of the curriculum.   This will be an opportunity to connect lessons learned from the curriculum to present social justice struggles and strategies for movement building.

Why is the Anne Braden program designed for white people?
We at Catalyst believe that white supremacy is a major barrier to ending all systems of oppression, including capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, and others.  We believe that white people have a stake and a role in fighting for racial justice, and that not only our humanity but also our collective liberation depends on ending white supremacy.  We see working with other white people as a strategic way to support building multiracial movements for justice.  In order to do this we believe it is important to have curriculum designed for white people to explore the historical development of whiteness and the process of internalizing white superiority.  We believe there is specific curriculum that is useful for white activists to develop anti-racist consciousness and skills to develop proactive anti-racist organizing strategies.  We believe that anti-racist political education can and should happen in different types of ways— within multiracial spaces, people-of-color-specific spaces, and white-specific spaces, with an understanding that which form it takes should be context-specific.  Through our understanding of the history of the Challenging White Supremacy workshops, and feedback from our advisors and allies within racial and economic justice organizations, we decided that within the San Francisco Bay Area an anti-racism program specifically design for white activists is needed.  In the Bay Area, there are multiple long standing political education and organizing training programs designed for people of color, such as the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and Center for Third World Organizing.  Catalyst Project works in alliance to try and meet the different needs of our different communities.

What is a solidarity scholarship?
Catalyst believes that working-class leadership is strongly needed in order to build a more just and equitable society.  Working-class people are the majority in our society and have a strategic role in the functioning (or non functioning) of the economy. Poor and working-class people experience the direct hardships of capitalism on their bodies, spirits, and communities, and are often in positions to see opportunities to create social change.  Throughout history, poor and working-class people have built powerful social justice movements that have changed the values and institutions that govern society.   We believe that working-class leadership based in values of solidarity, democracy, and mutual aid is necessary for our collective liberation.  We therefore have the Carl Braden Working Class Leadership Scholarship Fund to provide solidarity to working class and poor participants in the Anne Braden Program to develop their leadership.  Carl Braden was married to Anne Braden and he was a working class union organizer, anti-racist activist and feminist.  The scholarships are not given as a form of charity to those in need, but in solidarity to those whose leadership the movement needs.

What do the application and training program fees go towards?
Catalyst Project is a small, primarily volunteer-based organization with a super-limited budget, almost entirely supported by grassroots fundraising.  We are trying to be creative about ways to cover the expenses of putting on this training program, while keeping it as accessible to as many people as possible.  The $10 application fee partially covers the cost of printing and processing the applications, web hosting, etc. The $400-$800 training program fee partially covers the expenses of planning, developing and leading the sessions, setting up volunteer placements, room rental, developing and printing materials, honorariums for speakers, producing readers, and much more.  We do not want money to be a reason for you not to participate— please contact us if you have questions about payment programs or scholarships.  

How did you develop the Anne Braden program?
Since the end of the Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops (a 15-week anti-racism training institute based in San Francisco that the Catalyst Project grew out of in 2000), there has been an acute need and a consistent request for a training space such as this. We believe political education should be directly tied to on-the-ground organizing, and shaped by the social justice community of which we are a part, so we developed a community input process.  This included meetings with Sharon Martinas, who ran the CWS workshops and other movement elders, getting feedback and ideas from all of our advisors, having ongoing meetings with racial and economic justice organizations and organizers, and holding a community meeting to get feedback and ideas on how this program can most effectively support multi-racial movement building and struggles for social justice.  Our intention is that this program will directly support racial and economic justice organizing work that is already happening in the Bay Area and nationally.

We held the first Anne Braden program in early 2008, and many of the 33 participants said it was a hugely transformative experience for them, and had a significant impact on their social justice work.  We also got incredibly positive feedback from the mentors and volunteer placement sites.  One participant said:  this and a volunteer site supervisor, said: this .