What a time the last few weeks have been! The elections. The President’s executive order on immigration. Grand jury decisions not to indict the officer who shot Mike Brown nor the officer who choked Eric Garner. The tremendous movement moments in motion. Here at Highlander, we are grieving for and standing in solidarity with those of us for whom justice still looms on a distant horizon, celebrating what wins we can as a movement, and working hard and smart for strategic and impactful progressive change. We hope you stay on this journey with us.
No doubt you have read and heard good progressive analysis about the elections. I’m not going to add much to that except this – here at Highlander we believe that the understanding of and efforts toward civic engagement need to be greatly expanded. Voter registration and get out the vote efforts are crucial, and they are not enough.
Democracy means engaged citizenry, and that means analysis and critical thinking; it means understanding how people and issues are connected; it means relationship building and discernment to break down divide and conquer tactics; it means building the power to thwart those tactics, still pervasive and effective in casting blame on people themselves instead of the arrangements that are structured to keep people in poverty or oppressed; it means engaging in processes that help shape and expand how people think and broaden their concept of community. It means education and organizing. It means seeing a young Black man as a person and not a threat. This is the life blood of Highlander’s work, and we need your great generosity at this year end to keep this pivotal movement building work going strong.
I hope the attached Program Update >current-work-2014 and Capital Campaign report> GTC Update November 2014 inspire your continued, or increased, generosity. Will you make a gift to our program work, and a final gift or pledge to the Capital Campaign, by year end?
As I approach ten years as Director of Highlander, I want to tell you that despite the daily heartbreaks from injustice, this has been one of my favorite years. We were able to amp up our program team by 1.5 fte positions, hiring people who have been involved in our economic justice and Seeds of Fire work. We just completed a terrific board meeting here on the hill where board and staff took a look at the current landscape, how Highlander’s work is progressing fifteen months into our Strategic Assessment and Action Plan, lifting up long-term work we’re anchoring, including the Appalachian Transition Fellowship program, and our ability to be adaptive in strategic movement moments, including Ferguson. We are getting more requests than we can handle for our processes and our place. People want to come here to work with us and want us to come to their community. I am honored and humbled to cast my movement lot with such dedicated board, staff, community leaders, and generous, justice-minded friends like you.
For the long haul,