How do we build a movement?  What are the limits and obstacles people face in their organizing that suggest a social movement is necessary? What is the character of that social movement?  How is it going to function?  Who is going to be involved? The answers to these questions are as diverse as the people as the people here at the Leadership School and the needs of their organizations.

Erika Almiron
Philadelphia Student Union
Media Mobilizing Project

We need to be aware of the multilingual/racial characteristics of this movement.

Willie Baptist
Poverty Initiative

This is not about pity; this is about power.

Ernest “Bear” Lindsay
United Workers

Yes, we do need a social movement.  It’s time for a change and we here are at the beginnings of an international army to wake up the world and do what’s right.  Not just for the world but for the future generations.  It’s like the song, “people get ready, there’s a change a coming.  We need to get ready.

Amendu Evans
Labor Justice Radio / MMP

Basically, we’re being screwed by the democrats and Republicans.  They’re so busy ripping about which party s the best for us that they forgot about the people.  They’re not worried about the people.  They’re worried about how to stay in power and they don’t have time for us.  I love this.  This is unprecedented.  It’s never ben done before.  It’s not a civil rights movement.  It’s a social rights movement.  No longer do we go by that theme to make it happen for everybody.  We have to be more broadminded about things.  We need to be more supportive about what we need for everyody.  What benefits all the people we work for?  We need to be centralized about how we can help everybody.  it’s about the little people.  We’re the people who carry everything.  We have to learn how to make sure that we work for everybody.

Mica Root
Media Mobilizing Project (Philly)

One thing we’ve been seeing in Philly is how connected the people are who make the policies.  The people who keep the taxi drivers down are the same people who are privatizing schools.  Those people are connected and they talking to each other.  WE need to talk to each other too!

Charlene Sinclair
Poverty Initiative

One of my favorite Bob Marley songs is Redemption Song and I’m going to share a line with you: Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; None but ourselves can free our minds. None of us can free ourselves.  We are not just the problems in our communities or the problem that we face.  A social movement is not just our own locale.  It means that we will develop the power to be visible across the world, not just the country.  We are not just the make up of our problems.  We are leaders, social beings who carry the ability to emancipate minds.

Ron Blount
Philadelphia Taxi Workers Alliance

As cab drivers, we are isolated.  We started by seeing things a little different.  One of the things we did was we started getting in touch with taxi drivers in NY, and even on the West Coast.
We need people to help us with our financing.  All together, we have to start with our partners.

Joycelyn Gill-Campbell
Domestic Workers United

How many people are willing to take two days to go to Washington DC, please stand?  You need to be willing to make sacrifices.  We at DWU are not just interested in our own issues.  We are interested in housing, etc.  We analyzed our issues to determine the causes.  Then we knew we needed a vehicle to press our issues.  So we strategized and decided to form a national DWU. Unity is strength.  And that’s what we need to build a movement.

Kymberly McNair
Poverty Initiative

What’s missing is the voice of the faith community.  I am not a domestic worker.  I am not a Welfare Queen.  I am not a Taxi Driver from Philadelphia.  What I am is one women with a big mouth in my church. What I am is a preacher who has the opportunity to speak truth to the people who sit in the pews on Sunday morning.  What I am is somebody who is able to bring you, and you and you into my church so you can connect with people who need to start living out the gospel.  When Rabbi Abraham Heschel marched with King, he said that he felt as if he was praying with his feet.  I am somebody who might be able to move the people in my community to pray with their feet.

Rev. Mavuso Mbhekiseni and Mazwi Nzimande, from the Shack Dwellers movement, were invited to speak to the school about the development of their social movement in South Africa.  Rev. Mavuso energized the group with some rousing chants before showing a short video exposition of the work the Shack Dwellers are doing.  Mazwi Nzimande shared his thoughts about the Shack Dwellers Movement.

If I say down with something, you say down.
If I say forward with something, you say forward.

Down with discrimination!  Down!
Down with exploitation! Down!
Down with the oppression of the poor!  Down!
Down with capitalism!  Down!
Forward with justice!  Forward!
The constitution that is now guiding South Africa has human rights.  Section 26 speaks about the rights.  It says that you will not be evicted even if you stay there for three months.  If a person is to be evicted, the case must go to court.  If you are evicted, the landlord must make sure you have all basic needs and services.

Following Dear Mandela, Mazwi Nzimande spoke:
Brothers and sisters I want to stress that everything you have just seen is true.  Last year we lost a baby who was about 6 months.  People are dying in Africa.  I am an African, but I am not proud to say I am an African.  When Mandela was released, some of us were not even born.  There is money to build houses, but that money is used to build stadiums.  We are hosting the 2010 World Cup, but we are not going to see it.  The soccer match is not for us, but we are the host.  The government of the country entertains international guests, but it does not entertain its
own people.  Today, I stand in front of you and I am not proud to say that I am not proud to be a South African.  We need to dust [off] the constitution and start using it.  The people should come first and the stadium should come last.