Saturday, 02 July 2016 00:00

Heather Booth on People Power with Ernie Powell Featured

Written by Ernie Powell
National Committee colleagues Heather Booth, Ernie Powell, Julie Tippens and me this afternoon in front of the West Wing — with Ernie Powell and Julie Tippens. National Committee colleagues Heather Booth, Ernie Powell, Julie Tippens and me this afternoon in front of the West Wing — with Ernie Powell and Julie Tippens.

My guest this week is Heather Booth, friend, co-worker , organizer and legendary civil rights activist. Listen live at 8pm Eastern on June 14th.

When I think about the greatest Presidents I start with Lincoln, travel in time and memory and history to FDR and then go right to my heart and mind and land at Obama. When I think about great baseball players I begin with Babe Ruth, sprint forward to Mantle and Mays and wrap it up Hank Aaron. When I ponder the best films I have seen I start with the joy of "It's a wonderful life", sprint next "The Godfather" and then I worry why such a violent yet epical sage rates so high so I take myself to thinking about something lighter, fresher, more life giving that makes my tummy hurt from laughter and I ponder the utter delight of "Young Frankenstein."

I became an organizer on a hot Rialto, Ca. day when I was a sophomore in high school and the school principle would not let us wear T-Shirts. That decision was plain dumb and to a minor degree oppressive so I gathered a bunch of other kids and we had a sit in. We won and got to wear t shirts. A few years later I then managed to flunk out of college sort of on purpose to be part of the "Huelga" lead by Cesar Chavez during the dramatically successful grape boycott.

I never stopped and it has been my career, my life. I have been an organizer for nearly 50 years.

Effective organizers take a break - maybe ten minutes a day and stand by a window and stare out of that window. It is a way to step back from the pressure, the issues, the conflicts and just "be." I know to do that. And in that reflection and when I think about the spirit, knowledge, essence and hope for and about organizing there is no one I respect more than Heather Booth. I have known her well for five years and known of her for better than 25 years. She is my roll model, my mentor, my hero and my resource when I get tired, when I get bitter, when I want to give up. She answers my questions and teaches me how to organize, how to build people power, how to plan strategically and how to maintain my own sanity in a very tough and rough and tumble life.

Heather Booth is America's organizer. Civil rights leaders will tell you that, immigration reform organizers will tell you that, people from the peace movement, the labor movement, the women's movement - she has touched so many lives in the most meaningful way. She teaches, she helps, she guides and she cares. She is the best.

We are most fortunate to have Heather as our guest in this episode of "People Power." We encourage you to listen closely and then use this episode as a teaching tool with your organization, your friends, where ever it is you are working with others in fight for justice and equality. Our topics in our discussion will include getting a deeper understanding of strategy and how having a strategy is key to a successful campaign; why it is important to understand the difference between leading and organizing; what are the common mistakes most organizers make; what models of social change movements can we hear about from Heather that we can use in the current set of challenges we have at the national, state and local level; and, finally, we will talk about the threats to democracy faced in our current moment given that the Republicans are nominating Mr. Trump with his hate for women, his racism, his anti worker philosophy and actions; his expressed willingness to use nuclear weapons, etc. 
Listen, learn, ask questions and organize !
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