10/20/08 – Pictures from the second THREADS session are now online here.
On August 15-17, Highlander held the second session of THREADS: A Leadership and Organizing School, our new multi-racial, intergenerational leadership and organizer training institute. The session was attended by thirty activists and leaders from the twenty-one participating groups, which are located in eight states across the South: AR, FL, LA, MS, NC, TN, VA, and WV.
Participants began by presenting reports about their work in their communities, how they had applied what they learned at the first session, and/or how their work was being affected by the elections.
Three groups from western North Carolina that are working together on immigration issues presented a video about the impact of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid at a factory in Asheville, NC, the week before the session, which had resulted in the arrest of fifty-seven immigrant workers. Twenty-eight of the workers were deported immediately; the rest will probably be deported as well. The raid traumatized the arrested workers and their families, many of whom now face extended separation and economic hardship, and devastated the local immigrant community.
Following the presentations, other participants at the session raised a variety of questions about immigration – including why people come to the United States if they are treated so badly. The group then spent part of the session responding to these questions. They watched and discussed Morristown: In the Air and Sun, a video that explores the impact of globalization through interviews with workers in the United States and Mexico. They also engaged in a popular education exercise entitled “Why Can’t They Wait Their Turn,” which provides insight into the inequities of the U.S. immigration system.
Groups not already involved in immigration issues (over half of the participants) felt they learned a lot and many were struck by the connections between the issues facing immigrants and issues in their own communities – including job loss, displacement, and the impact of racism on the way different people and groups are treated in this country. These kinds of conversations and connections are the heart of our intention for the THREADS program.
The third session of THREADS will be held in mid-October. For more information about THREADS, click here. A brief report on the first session is available here. Pictures from the first session are available here.