Community Organizers

Hilarious blog from the right-wing perspective railing on the liberal media for not defining community organizing. He goes on to rail on community organizers without giving an adequate description himself. Great…  http://mansizedtarget.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/what-is-a-community-organizer/

The CivicMinded Companion defines a Communitiy Organizer as  “An individual who brings people together and nurtures leaders at the local level to solve a common problem or meet a shared need such as improving schools, expanding employment opportunities, widening access to affordable health care and housing, seeking relief from environmental hazards, securing equal rights for immigrants, etc.” I like this definition a lot.

Ed Sills from the Houston Chronicle says that “”Martin Luther King Jr. was a community organizer. Mahatma Gandhi was a community organizer. Cesar Chavez was a community organizer. Great religious leaders, rebels, civil rights activists and just about anyone who has risen up against the status quo and tyranny have been, at heart, community organizers.”

From: “What do community organizers do?” New York Times Sept 13, 2008

“Well, consider Hugh Espey, an organizer with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. On a typical day, he might help low-income residents of Des Moines organize to keep a neighborhood grocery store open or work with family farmers to persuade a state agency to deny a permit for a proposed factory farm, or meet with Mexican families in Marshalltown about ways to advance immigration reform. He brings various constituencies together to find common ground, build relationships and support each other’s causes.”
— Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director, Center for Community Change – working to strengthen community-led, grassroots organizations.

Since I listed Cesar Chavez above I’ll write about him. There was a big controversy in San Francisco over the renaming of a street (formerly Army St.) into Cesar Chavez. Ironically, the street was most commonly known as the best one to pick up hispanic day-laborers. This is ironic because Cesar Chavez founded the American Farm Workers Association to protect the rights of farm workers, many of whom were migrant (and some were illegal) workers. “In 1973, the UFW was one of the first labor unions to oppose proposed employer sanctions that would have prohibited hiring illegal immigrants” (Wikipedia). Although Chavez protected some rights of illegal immigrants, his main focus was the American farmworker, and he led many initiatives that attacked illegal immigrants, primarily those who were being employed as strikebreakers and those who refused to unionize.

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One Response to “Community Organizers”

  1. kevinsanchez87 Says:

    One of the main things that I have struggled with understanding the Movement that Cesar Chavez was putting together was the aspect of illegal immigrants. I was a shocked to learn that there was a huge disconnect with the legal farm workers and the illegal immigrants. I truly believe though, to really understand and advocate for your people, you should not let a simple word or legality such as “illegal immigrant” hinder your ability to advocate for your people. Thank you for sharing.

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