US Social Forum: New Orleans

{mosimage}{multithumb} “You Can’t Kill the Spirit”

Solidarity Organizing in the Movement to Rebuild New Orleans

Sponsors: People’s Hurricane Relief Fund and Catalyst Project

Program for the US Social Forum , June 27th – July 1st, 2007

After the levees broke and Black New Orleans was left to die by the State, left and progressive activists around the country struggled to find meaningful ways to respond. As we near the 2nd anniversary of Katrina, many on the left continue to ask how they can participate in a responsible and strategic way to the reconstruction movement led by Black and working class communities and their organizations in New Orleans. “You Can’t Kill the Spirit” brings together leaders from organizations based in and outside New Orleans to share reflections and lessons on how social justice activists from around the country can support the struggle for New Orleans and build grassroots power.

This panel will explore goals and strategies of New Orleans based groups who have utilized national resources and outside volunteers from progressive/left organizations. These organizations will also provide concrete suggestions for how people can directly support the leadership and organizing of working class, Black-led organizing in New Orleans. The panel will also explore the goals and strategies of organizations who have come to New Orleans to support the grassroots movement. These organizations will speak to the key lessons they have learned from organizing in solidarity with the local movement. One will speak directly to the challenges and opportunities of organizing out of town, primarily white volunteers using an anti-racist and multiracial alliance building strategy. And one will speak to the challenges and opportunities of organizing in communities of color.

The panel’s orientation is based on the assumptions that we need to build grassroots political power in working class communities and communities of color, that women's, transgender and gender variant leadership is central to building dynamic and powerful movements, and that there is a need to organize people who have race, class and gender privilege to participate in building movements led by oppressed communities for collective liberation. It is also rooted in the belief that we need a praxis-oriented practice of drawing lessons from our work to advance our vision and understanding of the world.