Who was Anne Braden?

Anne Braden was a white  anti-racist organizer and leader in racial justice movements in the  U.S. South, including the Civil Rights Movement.  She brought a  working-class based socialist analysis and community-organizing model to  the struggle against white supremacy and all forms of inequality.  She  believed in the need to root out racism in the hearts and minds of white  people, and worked from the perspective that white people have a  collective interest in dismantling white supremacy.  Anne Braden’s  legacy has deeply inspired Catalyst Project and many others. In naming  our program after her, we honor her memory and the movements of  which she was a part. We’ve heard from many anti-racist organizers in the South about being personally mentored by Anne and her commitment to developing more and more leaders, and we hope the Program will contribute towards those goals she dedicated her life to.

Who is the Anne Braden program for? 

The Anne Braden Anti-Racist Training program is  designed for white social justice activists who are looking for ways to  bring a deeper racial justice analysis and practice to their current  political work.  The program is grounded in the politics of collective  liberation from which Catalyst Project operates – a framework that  focuses on challenging white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and all  forms of systemic oppression while building toward new liberatory and  equitable relationships, structures, and institutions.  This is not a  series of “101” style workshops, but rather an intensive political  education and leadership development experience. We are looking for  participants who have at least a few years of experience working for social  justice; who have been part of organizations and/or plan on joining  organizations working for systemic social change; and who strongly desire to step up  their work for justice and grow personally. The program is designed for participants who bring what they learn in the program to long-term organizing and  movement building for liberation.

What are the goals of Anne Braden program? Our goals for this political education program are to:

  • Support participants in developing radical (radical meaning “going to the root”) political analysis, organizing skills, and the ability to think strategically.
  • Explore lessons and insights from different political traditions and study histories of resistance to racism and systemic oppression.
  • Support participants’ confidence, capacity, and vision to develop holistic politics that take wing as strategic action to build movements for justice.
  • Support the development of more accountable, healthy and strategic leaders, who are effective in working class, multiracial and primarily white social  justice organizations, and who have skills to  move  anti-racist politics and practice in different organizations, communities and movements.
  • Build relationships between participants so they can support and encourage one another’s work for  justice beyond the Braden Program.
  • Support economic and racial justice organizations in working class communities and communities of  color through the volunteer placements component.
  • Contribute to strengthening a dynamic, multiracial, working class based left in the Bay Area and nationally, led by people of color, working class people, women, queers, transgendered and gender variant people and other marginalized communities.

What will the training program include?

Volunteer  Placements

Anne Braden Program participants will volunteer at least 4-8  hours a week at multi-racial social justice community organizations in  the Bay Area during the program. Participants will learn more about  grassroots organizing and gain experience engaging in work within  multi-racial organizations. We have found that participants who can put  in at least 6 hours or more have had a much more powerful experience.   Some participants have chosen to put in between 10-30 hours a week into  their volunteer placement to gain more skills and experience and make a  bigger contribution.


Participants may opt to be paired with an experienced white anti-racist activist or organizer who is part of Catalyst’s local network. Mentors support participants in their overall political development, and to deepen their learnings from their volunteer placement and the weekly trainings.

Organizing Skills

Participants will connect their vision and analysis with strategy and  organization. They will develop a basic understanding of different kinds of organizations, strategies, and principles, including practices of accountability. In doing so, participants will increase their ability to be effective organizers for justice.

Grassroots  Fundraising

Participants will develop their grassroots fundraising and organizing 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. The grassroots fundraising component is designed as an organizing tool to help participants share their experience in the program with family, friends and community, towards bringing broader numbers of people into connection with the movement for racial and economic justice.

Analysis of Systems of Oppression and Privilege

Program participants engage in 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 also explore how white privilege and white supremacy developed, and how they operate in U.S. institutions and within social justice movements today. We study these systems within a framework that recognizes the interdependence of our struggles and our liberation.

Histories of Resistance and Liberation

Participants will study the history of  multiracial working class resistance movements, global justice  movements in and outside of the U.S., and legacies of white anti-racist history.

Political Vision and strategy

Participants will explore visions and strategies from a range of liberation movements, and apply this to their own context. They will use tools to practice articulating their own  visions of a just world, and begin to explore strategies towards those visions.

Guest Presenters and Speakers

As part of the curriculum, local organizers and activists will facilitate and present, giving participants access to the lessons,  politics, and experiences from multiracial left organizing.

Readings, Audio and Video

the reading list (including other media) for the 2013 program is here.

Why is the Anne Braden program designed for white people?

We 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 liberation depends on ending white supremacy.  We want to see  millions of white people stand up for racial justice, and support and  join multiracial struggles led by communities of color. 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 white supremacy 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.  Anti-racist political education can and should happen in  many 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 and these different types of political  education can support each other.

Building on the history of  the 12 years of the Challenging White Supremacy (CWS) workshops (a 15  week anti-racist training program for white social justice activists led  by veterans of the Civil Rights, anti-war, and anti-racist socialist  movement), along with feedback from our advisors and allies within  racial and economic justice organizations, we determined that an anti-racism program specifically designed for  white activists is both needed and strategic. Many past participants of  both CWS and the Anne Braden Program are playing important roles in both multiracial and predominately white social justice efforts through a  wide range of settings, institutions, and groups.  Many participants  have led effective anti-racist efforts to build up people of  color-led struggles.  Many participants have taken on solidarity work  and fundraising work with social justice organizations in communities of  color. Many are taking responsibility to organize within majority white communities to raise the level of anti-racist awareness, commitment, and action. Many are raising and educating young people in their communities  to know peoples’ history, develop democratic anti-racist skills, and  create positive change.  Additionally, 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 sees our work supporting the development of white anti-racist  organizers and leaders as part of building multi-racial movements for  collective liberation.

After the first three rounds of the Anne Braden Program, Catalyst Project assessed the program and did a community feedback process with allies and other grassroots social justice organizations around the country. The overwhelming response was that this program is needed, wanted, and having positive impacts.

What do the application and  training program fees go towards?

Catalyst Project is a  small, primarily volunteer-based organization with a limited budget. We  are supported by grassroots fundraising, and fees from some of the  political education we do.  In our attempt to keep the program  accessible, we are trying to be creative about ways to cover expenses. The $20 application fee partially covers the cost of printing and  processing the applications, web hosting, etc. The 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 and/or solidarity scholarships.

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 economically, politically, and culturally. Poor and working-class people experience the direct  hardships of capitalism on  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.  The Carl Braden Working Class Leadership  Scholarship Fund is a solidarity scholarship for working class and poor  participants in the Anne Braden Program to develop their leadership.   Carl Braden, Anne’s partner, was a working class union  organizer, anti-racist activist and feminist.  These scholarships are not  given as a form of charity, but as active solidarity with poor  and working class activists whose leadership is needed in racial justice work.

How  was the Anne Braden program developed?

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, Elizabeth ‘Betita’ Martinez who has led many efforts to  build multiracial movement strategy, and other movement elders, getting  feedback and ideas from all of our advisers, 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 multiracial movement building and  struggles for social justice.

We have led four Anne Braden  Programs with over 130 people. Many of the participants said it was a  transformative experience for them, and had a significant impact on their social justice work.  We have received positive feedback from the volunteer placement sites that participants have made important  contributions to their work.  Additionally, we have received feedback  from organizers of color and white anti-racists in the Bay Area and around the country that developing more white anti-racist leaders and  organizers is making an important contribution to multiracial movement  building.

Reflections from past participants and site  supervisors:

The Braden Program gave us an understanding  of how to bring our whole selves to our lives, organizing, families and  communities – through exploring our roots; developing analysis around  oppression, resistance and movement building; and strengthening our  confidence and leadership skills as anti-racist organizers. The  different components of the program are helping me meaningfully place  myself in racial justice struggles for the long haul.

-Leah Carnine,  Braden Participant ‘09 (Tempe, Arizona)

Given the vision we have  for our people and the current conditions, there is always a tremendous  gap between the resources and people power we have and what we want and  need to accomplish. The skills, energy, and time that our Anne Braden  volunteers gave last fall made things possible that simply would not  have been possible without them. Along with the boost in capacity, the  individuals that joined our organization for four and a half months  helped to push us and inspire us by bringing their passion, curiosity,  hope, wisdom and love to our work.  

-Vanessa Moses, Volunteer  Placement Site Supervisor ’08 and ’09 (Lead Organizer with Causa Justa  :: Just Cause)

The next Anne Braden Program will be held from February through May of 2015. Applications will be open from June 1 to September 1, 2014.