On May 2-4, Highlander held the first session of THREADS: A Leadership and Organizing School, our new multi-racial, intergenerational leadership training institute. The session was the first in an 18-month training program that will include three additional sessions at Highlander and two in local communities, as well as follow-up support and technical assistance for the organizations involved.
We received over 70 applications from across the South for 35 available spaces. Participants include African American, African immigrant, Latino, Native American, and white activists, ranging in age from 15-57. They work in grassroots organizations in eight states (AR, FL, LA, MS, NC, TN, VA, and WV), addressing a wide range of issues, including Katrina-related displacement and reconstruction, coastal erosion, mountaintop removal, immigrant and refugee rights, youth incarceration, workers rights, education, and more.
The goals of THREADS include strengthening the capacity of participating groups to address issues in their communities, enhancing their skills and abilities to connect to people and issues across difficult divides, and helping to develop models of intergenerational organizing and leadership transition.
At the first session, participants got to know each other, learned about each other’s organizations, and shared strategies for base-building and recruiting. Staff also introduced Highlander’s approach to intergenerational organizing and creating multilingual spaces. The entire session was conducted simultaneously in English and Spanish.