Organizing a Justice Campaign

Any number of things can lead a person to think about organizing a campaign for racial justice. It could be the murder of a person of color, an egregious racist incident or simply a newly heartfelt realization of how the system is so unequal that people are under existential threat simply because of the color of their skin.
While its not hard to do, there is some organizing strategies that are useful. Wishful thinking or hoping someone else will do something is not enough. The following is a blueprint of a step by step action plan. Use whatever parts are appropriate to your situation.

  1. figure out who is your focus group. Initially this includes the people you want to work with, who you are anticipating will join you in the campaign. Obviously the more people who join, the stronger. Understand that just 1-2 people are enough to get started but to be effective this need to grow and a core group or committee is essential. Then think about who your core group wants to work with; a local religious group, the PTA or a civic organization? If there are people of color in your group, follow their leadership entirely. Do not preempt it by sharing white ideas or centering white norms, fragility, culture, etc. If people of color are not in agreement among themselves, stay out of it, do not intercede or take sides, this again centers white supremacy.
  2. Develop material to draw people into the step by step action. Think about specifically who or what do you want to change. Depending on the size, commitment and working relationships of the core group, this will be the basis of something that can be as simple as an ask that they join the organizing group or be a more developed campaign that could also be adapted to develop a press release, letter to the editor, etc. The components of this material should be:
    • A. –– give a BRIEF (ideally under 250 words) description of the situation you want to address and why. Be clear, concise and use phrases and language that is part of your group’s identity.
      (At this point and at critical steps throughout the process, if there is not people of color involved in the core group, vet the work with a person of color. Do this work in a way that involves and follows the wisdom and is respectful of the people of color involved either directly or peripherally, as incidents that happen to one effect others in ways white folks usually can’t really understand.
    • B. –– develop your “ask”. What do you actually want people to do? Again, be simple and clear. This can include things like write and /or call their leadership to get the whole organization involved, and/or write congress people, or show up for a demonstration, march, rally or vigil, boycott or pray and fast, etc. You can also provide several possibilities and let them decide what works best for their situation. Name specifics such as a legislative bill number, etc.
    • C. –– give a time frame for the “ask”, i.e. “we will be having an organizational meeting on X date, please join us”, or “we’d like letters to go out by X date” or “we want to get the demonstration organized for a month from now.”
    • D. –– attach any and all material or information that will make it easy for them to follow through. For example, if you want to do a letter writing campaign, provide a sample letter that people could edit for their particular group. If phone or other conversations, develop and provide talking points, etc. Depending on how far along you are in organizing, this could also include flyers, posters.
    • E. –– provide the names, addresses phone numbers of anyone you want them to contact or provide a web address that has that information. Also provide any background information, like a new story, but keep it short, you don’t have to share everything in fact one powerful article is way better then one good article with many others.
    •  F. –– provide any other resources that could impact people’s ability to take action. For example, if money could be an issue, figure out how to be helpful in terms of this resource. Also think about things such as any child care needs.
    • G. –– finally, ask them to get back to you by a certain date either to let you know their level of interest or what has been accomplished.


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