Catalyst Project has put together panels for conferences and teach-ins. Our panels aim to bring together experienced organizers and activists to share their lessons and analysis. We believe that this is an effective way to discuss the complexities of putting our theories into practice and deepening our theories based on the lessons from our practice. We also believe that panels at conferences are opportunities to support the leadership of organizers and leaders around the country who are working to advance justice. Below are some examples of panels that we have put together and led.
Building Movement for Immigrant Justice
Immigrant led struggles are at the forefront of the labor movement and the struggle for global justice. Simultaneously, the right-wing has steadily built it’s power in white working class communities attacking immigrant communities. From militarizing the U.S. Mexico border to mass detentions of Arabs and Muslims, these assaults have been met by resistance led my immigrant communities and their allies.
This panel includes immigrant and non-immigrant organizers. It will focus on organizing in immigrant communities and immigrant led resistance to U.S. imperialism at home and abroad. It will also focus on roles of white left/radicals working for immigrant justice. While the right mobilizes racism and xenophobia in white communities, this panel will discuss current strategies to build multiracial movement that prioritizes immigrant leadership and fights for justice.
Moderator: Clare Bayard of the Catalyst Project
Monami Maulik from DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving (NYC), Mickey Lambert from the Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project (NYC), and Stefanie Gude from the Immigrant Working Group of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (Toronto)
Monami Maulik was born in Calcutta, India and migrated to the Bronx, NY as a child where she came to political consciousness as a working class immigrant woman. Monami graduated with majors in Third World Development, Women’s, and South Asian studies from Cornell University in 1996. Since then, Monami has been working as an immigrant rights, labor, and youth organizer in New York City.
In 1999, Monami co-founded DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving as one of the first low-income South Asian community-based organizations for social justice in the U.S. Prior to that Monami worked with the NY Taxi Workers Alliance, the Women Workers Project at CAAAV (Organizing Asian Communities), TICO (Training Institute for Careers in Organizing), and served on various city-wide coalitions and campaigns around prison abolition, youth, and People of Color organizing.
Monami is on the Advisory Board of the North Star Fund, the Steering Committee of the NYC Organizing Support Center, and represents DRUM on the national steering committee of Racial Justice 911. In 2002, Monami received the Jane Bagely Lehman Award from the Tides Foundation in recognition of her organizing for immigrant rights and civil liberties post- September 11, 2001. Monami has spoken to audiences around the U.S. and outside of the U.S. on immigrant rights, detention, and political movements of low-income Third World immigrant communities in the U.S. and global anti-imperialist struggles.
Mickey Lambert is an activist living in Brooklyn, NY. He works on a broad range of interconnected issues, including criminal justice, immigrant justice, anti-racism, and trans and queer issues. He is an organizer with the Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project and also works with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and the Women’s Prison Association.
The Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project (IJSP) is an all-volunteer, abolitionist collective organized to fight the United Statesí immigration system, specifically against the detention and deportation of immigrants. By “abolitionist” we mean we envision a world without prisons and a world without borders. We are an organization made up of people from communities less-affected by detention and deportation. As such, we believe that in order to do our work, we must prioritize and support the leadership and voices of radical organizations based in people of color immigrant communities. We take our directional cues from these organizations, as well as taking responsibility for educating our own communities around the issues of detention and deportation.
Stefanie Gude is an Ontario Coalition Against Poverty Immigration caseworker. She is working to support the struggle of non-status people living in Toronto in the battle against the racist and anti-poor policies of Immigration in Canada. It is a fight for the freedom to move, for the right to live in safety, and with dignity for all. Stefanie has been a member of OCAP for 5 years.
OCAP is a direct-action anti-poverty organization based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We mount campaigns against regressive government policies as they affect poor and working people. In addition, we provide direct-action advocacy for individuals against eviction, termination of welfare benefits, and deportation. We believe in the power of people to organize themselves. We believe in the power of resistance.
Base Building: Community Organizers on Building a Multi-Racial Revolutionary Movement
We will hear from three long time radicals and revolutionaries who do base building community organizing. Through their on the ground experience of organizing in working class communities of color around issues such as immigration, welfare, police, prisons, and tenantís and workerís rights, these panelists will address issues around how oppressed communities build their power and position themselves within a global movement for dignity and justice, which offer some of the most realistic and exciting challenges to capital and the state, while offering some the most honest and useful lessons in how a revolutionary movement is built from the bottom up.
These organizers will address:
- Their definitions of base building and organizing.
- Their strategic visions for how oppressed communities can build power and develop their revolutionary potential.
- The connections between doing issue based community organizing and building a multi-racial revolutionary movement.
- What sectors they see as the forces which are poised to offer the biggest threat to capitalism and the state.
- How they developed (and are developing) their own capacity as organizers.
- What roles different people play in building power in working class communities of color.
- Ideas for moving beyond the false dichotomy of militant direct action vs. community organizing.
- Their reflections on how the anarchist movement in the United States can be participating in or relating to ongoing base building community organizing in oppressed communities.
- Examples of how communities have built their power in service of a radical vision of the transformation of society.
- Maria Poblet St Peters Housing Committee
- Dawn Phillips from Just Cause (Oakland)
- Jaron Browne from POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights)
- Mimi Budnick from Direct Action for Rights and Equality (Rhode Island)
- Moderated by Josh Warren-White
Maria Poblet organizes with the immigrant latino community in San Francisco’s Mission District. Through direct action, political education, and base building, her work aims to link the daily struggles of tenants against displacement and gentrification to the larger anti-imperialist movement for self-determination and land rights. She is a queer latina poet, popular educator, and futbol enthusiast.
Dawn Phillips emigrated to the united states in 1991. He has spent the last eleven years organizing in the Bay Area with working class and homeless communities. He is currently working to build anti-imperialist grassroots power through the Oakland-based multi-racial and intergenerational organization, Just Cause Oakland.
Jaron Browne is an organizer with POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights), a multi-racial, multi-lingual organization of No and Low-wage Workers and Tenants in San Francisco. Jaron was trained as an organizer in Los Angeles at the Labor/Community Strategy Center’s National School for Strategic Organizing. Before joining POWER, he did organizing and campaign research with youth and community organizations against racism in the criminal justice system.
Mimi Budnick works at DARE, Direct Action for Rights and Equality in Providence, RI. She is a community organizer on a project at DARE called Behind the Walls that is made up of people in prison, ex-prisoners, and friends and family of prisoners. The work of Behind the Walls is a balance between campaigns to alleviate the day to day misery and devastation caused by DOC policies that strip prisoners of respect and dignity and working towards a long-term abolitionist vision of a world without prisons.
Anti-Racism and Movement Building: reflecting on white anti-racist organizing
In the past four years (1999-2003) a major trend has developed in the mostly white sections of the global justice movement. Since the WTO was shut down in ’99 and Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez published her famous essay “Where Was the Color in Seattle”, issues of institutionalized racism, white privilege and anti-racism have become central to questions of strategy and movement building for many younger generation white radicals. We will be asking our panel of white anti-racist organizers “how has anti-racism influenced your work and what has that looked like concretely?”, “what are key lessons from your organizing work that would help others develop their own anti-racist organizing?”. We want this panel to explore the complexities of doing this work while also highlighting tangible lessons that we can all learn from. We are all coming from a pro-organizing, anti-oppression politics that includes the need to organize white communities and build multiracial movements that prioritizes leadership from radicals of color.
The panelists are: Molly McClure, gabriel sayegh, Dan Berger and Clare Bayard
Molly McClure is a genderqueer activist who spends most of her time facilitating sexuality education workshops in Philadelphia public schools and thinking about how to make education a more effective part of radical movement building. Molly is a member of AWARE (Allies Working for Anti-Racist Education), has recently started working with Training for Change leading white anti-racism workshops and is one of the organizers of the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference.
gabriel sayegh is a writer and activist working to understand how globalization is enforced along axes of race, class, gender, sexuality and geography. gabriel lives in Brooklyn, NY. gabriel was heavily involved with the mass action organizing in Seattle ’99 and has consistently worked with others to explore how anti-racism is linked to developing long-term strategy, learning from community organizing and building movement.
Dan Berger is a young white, Jewish community organizer and student who was based in Gainesville, Florida for many years and recently moved to Philadelphia. He was an editor of the anarchist newspaper, Onward and a co-founder of the multiracial, anti-racist group Colors of Resistance. He is currently writing a book on radical/left media and social movements in the 60’s and 70’s.
Clare Bayard is a white genderqueer Midatlantic-bred trainer with the Challenging White Supremacy Workshops, and organizes within the global justice movement around immigrant rights and anti-war work with the Heads Up Collective, and in the Direct Action to Stop the War Spokescouncil in San Francisco.
Building Movement, Building Power: a panel discussion on lessons from younger generation anti-racist activists
We want justice. We want to build healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities that affirm life. We believe that white supremacy shapes the society that we currently live in and that white privilege has consistently undermined multiracial movements for justice. We believe that anti-racism is key to unlocking the power of our communities and our movements to build a free society. This panel discussion with younger generation anti-racist activists will focus on drawing out lessons from their experience. They will address the following questions: What are the goals you’re working to meet both long-term and short-term? How have you put anti-racism into practice? What is your strategic orientation to your work? What are key lessons to share? What advice do you have other people who are trying to put anti-racism into practice?
Panelists: Cindy Breunig, Max Toth and Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward
Cindy Breunig grew up in a farmhouse outside of Cross Plains, Wisconsin. She got involved in social justice organizing in Washington DC focusing on student activism, literacy work and Central American solidarity work. Her path to consciousness and action around institutionalized racism was profoundly shaped by relationships to families she worked with in D.C. for four years as a literacy teacher. Since coming back to Wisconsin she has worked to educate and organize other white people in her circle of influence, and support local work for racial justice. She is a Medical Spanish Interpreter.
Betty Jeanne Rueters-Ward grew up in a suburb outside Boston, Massachusetts and has been most involved in student activism and anti-racism/anti-oppression efforts at her college in Ithaca, New York, and through various Unitarian Universalist communities. She currently serves as one of the Youth Programs Specialists for the Unitarian Universalist Association (the administrative headquarters for a liberal religious denomination), where she coordinates social justice resources and conferences for youth ages 14-20. Betty Jeanne’s key issues of involvement have included struggling against student apathy and building community and solidarity among college activist communities, as well as promoting multicultural education reform as a social justice issue among high school, unschooled and homeschooled youth. Betty Jeanne is a trainer with the National Coalition Building Institute, a nonprofit leadership training organization based in Washington, D.C.
Max Toth joined the USAS staff in October of 2004 as the National Organizer for Campus and Community Solidarity. He has spent the last four years doing local anti-racist organizing work, building accountability with radical organizers of Color while developing and producing political education work in predominantly white anti-war groups in the Bay Area. Max helped coordinate a 76-member Childcare Collective, which provides free childcare for low-income Women of Color organizers in grassroots organizations. He was a founding member of Heads Up, a grassroots anti-racist anti-war collective that formed by members of the Challenging White Supremacy Workshop immediately after 9/11. He was the Managing Editor of the Winning Wages Media Kit, a compilation of winning media strategies for living wage campaigns across the country. He holds a BA in Anthropology and Sociology from Mills College, Oakland, California; this means he’ll never be very closeted as an FTM transgendered person.
Throwing Down Against Empire: Military Veterans Speak Out on Practical Strategies to End War
Can we build an anti-war movement that not only ends the occupation of Iraq, but challenges the foundations of war? The U.S. anti-war movement is successfully using counter-recruitment as a strategy to weaken the military and galvanize anti-war opposition in working class communities and campuses around the country. Resistance in the military by G.I.s is also on the rise with soldiers refusing orders and coming out as Conscientious Objectors (COs). Veterans are at the center of our anti-war movement and this panel brings together veterans of the Vietnam, first Gulf, and Iraq wars who will share their experiences of resistance and organizing, discuss how you can support GI resistance, the CO movement and counter-recruitment as core strategies for building an anti-war movement that can end this war and challenge imperialism. This panel is designed for both long-time anti-war activists and people just getting started. If you believe people power can stop the war and you want more than big marches against the war, this panel is for you. Co-sponsored by the Catalyst Project and War Resisters’ League.
Panelists: Aimee Allison and Aidan Delgado
Aimee Allison earned an honorable discharge as a Conscientious Objector during the Persian Gulf War, after serving 4 years as a combat medic in the Army Reserves. Today, she supports soldiers applying for CO discharges and writes and speaks about the experience and role of GI resistance in ending the war. She is a leader in the counter-recruitment movement, serving on the steering committee of San Francisco’s College Not Combat Initiative and the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth to restrict recruiters from public school campuses through education, direct action, and legislation. In addition, she makes frequent presentations to youth and their families about alternatives to military service for education and job opportunities, most recently to immigrant communities. She is running for Oakland City Council to bring progressive peace and justice values to local governance priorities.
Aidan Delgado is a U.S. Army Reserve soldier, recently returned from combat duty in Iraq, including six months at the Abu Ghraib prison. He received an honorable discharge and was awarded four service medals; he was ultimately granted Conscientious Objector status, and is now attending a Florida honors college, completing a degree in religion. He has worked with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Common Sense.
Clare Bayard (moderator) is a core organizer and trainer with the Catalyst Project, and works with the Heads Up Collective, an anti-racist organization challenging U.S. wars at home and abroad. Clare works to strengthen alliances between majority white global justice anti-war groups and immigrant-led economic and racial justice organizations, including the Deporten a la Migra Coalition in San Francisco. As a member of Catalyst, Clare serves on the National Committee of the War Resisters League supporting counter-military recruitment organizing and G.I. resistance.
Outlaws of America: The History, Politics, and Lessons of the Weather Underground
In celebration of the release of Outlaws of America: The Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, the first comprehensive study of the history and lessons of the Weather Underground (AK Press, 2006), this historic panel discussion features both participants and historians looking at the group, which at the height of 1960s radicalism, initiated a bombing campaign to fight racism, war, imperialism, and capitalism. For the first time we will be given an in-depth look into the organization’s politics, and an open, honest, and critical look at the lessons that can be drawn from its experiences for today’s movements.
Dan Berger is a writer, activist, and graduate student living in Philadelphia. He was one of the founding editors of Onward, an anarchist newspaper that emerged out of the global justice movement, and is now part of the New York City-based anti-imperialist collective Resistance in Brooklyn. In addition to writing Outlaws of America, Berger is co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today’s Rebels Speak Out (Nation Books, 2005).
Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic and director of the Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University, is a former leader of Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground and was a fugitive on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for a decade. She was the first law student organizer for the National Lawyers Guild, organizing against the war in Vietnam and in solidarity with the Black Freedom movement. She remains a human rights activist and lives in Chicago with her husband, Bill Ayers, and her 90-year-old father-in-law.
Laura Whitehorn, an anti-imperialist activist, served nearly 15 years in prison for militant actions against U.S. policies during the 1980s. For many years before that, she was active in a variety of radical organizations, including the Weather Underground and the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee. Released from prison in 1999, she lives in New York City with her partner, Susie Day. Whitehorn is an editor at POZ magazine, a national source of information and news about HIV, and works with other activists in the New York State Taskforce for the Release of Political Prisoners.
Josh Warren-White (moderator) does anti-racist/anti-imperialist work as a core member of the Catalyst Project, a center for political education and movement building, and is staff at Just Cause Oakland, a revolutionary membership, mass-based organization that organizes amongst Oakland’s poor and working-class communities of color. He recently moved on to do community organizing after spending the last two years doing movement based publishing.