Labor, Civil Rights Groups Focus on Uniting the Movement

Authors: Shamar Bibbins

As we mark this Election Day, the progressive movement is becoming stronger than ever. Groups like labor and civil rights are joining forces to create a larger, broader, more resilient movement.

Over the past few weeks, Green For All has had the privilege of joining two important partner events – The 8th Annual NAACP Leadership 500 Summit and SEIU’s 25th International Convention. Though the agendas, audiences and locations were different, one common theme emerged: The need to fight for a fair economy and develop leaders to implement real social and economic change.

In Denver, I joined more than 3,000 SEIU members and delegates for SEIU’s 25th International Convention, with the theme of “Lead. Unite. Fight. Win for the 99 Percent.”

In an unprecedented move, the union set a strategic vision and direction to organize and collaborate with progressive partner organizations in an effort to strengthen direct action campaigns and movement building opportunities for sustainable change. The green economy, good jobs, fair wages, and immigration were just a few areas that were a part of the conversation as participants focused on helping close the gap on income inequality. While it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to do, I left the conference with a strong sense that if the movement unites, we truly can strengthen our working and middle classes and give everyone the fair shot that they deserve.

Then, more than one thousand miles away on the beautiful Gulf Coast of Florida, the NAACP hosted their 8th Annual Leadership 500 Summit. Against the backdrop of the most challenging issues of our time, the summit served as a platform for leaders in the civil rights and social justice arena to create innovative and effective strategies for advancing positive and sustainable change.

The conference theme of “Leadership By Design; Ensuring Our Legacy” shaped robust strategy sessions, which focused on the organization’s “Game Changer” initiatives, including:

  • Economic Empowerment
  • Education, Criminal Justice
  • Voter Rights
  • Environmental and Energy Justice, Health
  • Media & Technology

As the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP knows what it takes to advocate and advance social and economic justice. And just like SEIU, they know that the movement is stronger in numbers. Their successful model of bringing thought leaders from the corporate, non-profit, health, and government sectors together for the Leadership Summit is just one of many effective strategies they use to advance their agenda.

The fight for a fair economy is not easy. The rise of income inequality, suppression of worker and voter rights, the increasingly difficult challenge of protecting our nation’s air and water from polluters, and all other forms of social inequality call for the highest level of unity amongst the justice movement.

Thankfully, our strongest leaders in labor and civil rights recognize this. It’s never been more clear that if we unite and stand strong, we will win—and leave a more inclusive, healthy, prosperous world for our children and grandchildren.

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