‘L.A. Rising’ Report Offers Lessons for Social Justice Organizing
May 09, 2012
As Director of the California Democracy program, Amy leads strategies aimed at i
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Social justice organizing is a complex undertaking every step of the way. And as we look back at victories, figuring out which factors contributed to success can be difficult. So, I and many others welcomed the clear, succinct and compelling account of two decades of organizing in Los Angeles after the 1992 civil unrest recently published by the University of Southern California Program for Environmental & Regional Equity and Liberty Hill Foundation.
Their report, “L.A. Rising: The 1992 Civic Unrest, the Arc of Social Justice Organizing, and the Lessons for Today’s Movement Building,” captures how organizing strategies and institutions evolved during these decades, and distills ten innovative elements of the organizing approaches that were critical to their success. While these elements emerge from the realities of Los Angeles, they certainly can be applied to today’s public engagement efforts in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and elsewhere in California. I also was gratified to see that the authors shared implications for funders of social justice organizing, identifying practices that best sustain the ongoing involvement of residents in shaping their communities.
In addition to these practical lessons for community organizations and funders, the report offers much inspiration – drawn from the courage and dedication of those who have been working for a better Los Angeles. And the report compels us to consider both how we build upon these concrete lessons to address today’s challenges and, as we do so, how we support the community leaders who are contributing to a better democracy for all of us.