The following Breakout Sessions will be held at The Next Two Years and Beyond: A Movement Building Conference November 17, 2018 at Simmons University, Boston.
State Legislative Initiatives Current and Coming – Room C103
Convener: Jonathan King, Massachusetts Peace Action
Presenters: State Rep Mike Connolly; State Rep Jay Livingstone; State Rep-elect Nika Elugardo; Jonathan Cohn, Progressive Massachusetts
If “Politics is the art of the possible”, what opportunities and obstacles do the recent state legislative elections present to us? The last legislative session saw real progress in some areas of criminal justice reform, but setbacks on education funding. The Safe Communities Act and strong environmental legislation stalled because senior Democratic leaders in the House did not support them. In the next session what are the legislative initiatives that are likely to move forward? We know how to advocate and apply pressure, but it isn’t enough to “preach to the choir”, whose support do we need? Where should we bring pressure to bear? Are there districts where local organizing can make a difference? New and veteran state legislators and Progressive Massachusetts will share perspectives and lead a discussion of how progressive organizations and the movements for social justice can work together to win progress. MAPA will be proposing a series of bills for the new session dealing with essential war and peace issues.
Climate Justice Emergency – Room C101
Convener: Susan Redlich, 350MA
Presenters: Michele Brooks, Organizer, Massachusetts Sierra Club; Saya Ameli, student organizer, Sunrise Movement; Eugenia Gibbons, program director, Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
The latest scientific report on climate change (by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) states we are quickly approaching tipping points in the climate system, which may kick in and lead to runaway global warming. Social justice movements have common cause in uniting for climate justice across class, color, and geography. How can grassroots organizations incorporate climate justice in their work as a topmost priority? What are the targets for political action at the state level? What are the pressure points locally—e.g., environmental and immigration justice campaigns, resistance to gas lines and compressor station expansions, Attorney General’s lawsuit against Exxon, demands for housing and transportation with clean energy and net zero energy by 2050. What must activists be prepared to do to fight for the planet and our lives?
Palestine in Crisis – Room C318
Convener: Jeff Klein, chair, Mass. Peace Action Palestine/Israel Working Group; Dorchester People for Peace
Presenter: Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies; Munir N. Jirmanus, MAPA member whose family is originally from Jerusalem
As Israel deepens its occupation of the West Bank and maintains its siege of Gaza while establishing close ties with the conservative Gulf monarchies, what are the prospects for a free Palestine? The Trump administration is joined at the hip with Netanyahu’s Likud party, but now faces a Democratic-majority Congress including some newly-elected young pro-Palestine advocates. What are our opportunities for more sustained and successful organizing in this new political environment? What are the prospects for moving US policy away from a one-sided backing for Israel’s increasingly Apartheid regime?
The Future of the Judiciary – Shepard Room
Convener: Daryl Wiesen, ACLU of Massachusetts board; partner, Goodwin Procter
Presenters: Kim McLaurin, ACLUM Board Member, Suffolk Law School Professor; Rahsaan Hall, Director, ACLUM Racial Justice Program
Women of Color: Race, Politics, and Mobilization – Room E303
Convener: Andrea Burns, Massachusetts Peace Action
Presenters: Zayda Ortiz, community organizer and leader in the Indivisble movement; Rhoda Gibson, MassADAPT; Monica Cannon-Grant, Community Activist, CEO & Founder of Violence in Boston Inc.; Nichole Mossalam, Our Revolution Massachusetts
Women have come under constant fire during Trump’s presidency: Muslim bans, deportations, cuts to Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare. But we are organizing and fighting back. From running for office to organizing locally, women in Boston are getting the job done by organizing locally while thinking globally.
Building the Movement for Healthcare Justice – Room C105
Convener: Ben Day, executive director, Healthcare-NOW
Presenters:Donna Kelly-Williams, President, Massachusetts Nurses Association; Vikas Saini, President, Lown Institute and Co-Convener, Right Care Alliance; Lindsay Sabadosa, State Representative-Elect for the 1st Hampshire District
In this breakout we’ll discuss the growing national movement for healthcare justice, from single-payer healthcare to safe nurse staffing, from eliminating racial inequities to taking on big pharma. The national campaign to defeat the GOP’s “repeal and replace” legislation was not only successful, but lit a fire under grassroots organizing efforts to win a truly just healthcare system. After the November elections, what is the new political landscape for healthcare organizing, and what opportunities have opened up to take on the healthcare industry and win?
Black Lives Matter: A radical imaginary for democracy in 21st Century – Room C106
Convener: Martin Henson, Black Lives Matter Boston
Preenter: Rev. Karlene Griffiths Sekou
Organizing for the short and longer term is complex and requires moral courage, fortitude, and imaginative vision. This moment is daunting but filled with swift transitions and hopeful opportunities. This breakout will focus on setting our sights on evolutionary democratic possibilities, mobilizing locally, and coalition building: What are our values in organizing? How do we assess stakes? Who decides? Building solidarity and catalyzing power across the divides?”
Higher Education and Student Debt – Room C104
Convener: Vicki Dzindzichashvili, Our Revolution Massachusetts
Rather than a panel presentation, this breakout will be a facilitated discussion.
Poor People’s Campaign: Meet the Participants – Room E305
Convener: Khalil Saddiq
Presenter: Jenny Bonham-Carter
It Is Happening Here: Understanding and Resisting Racist & Authoritarian Rule – Room C311
Panelists: Carlton Williams, Political Research Associates & Cornell Law School; Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee & Campaign for Peace, Disarmament & Common Security
Despite the “Blue Wave” of the November 6 election, the political and institutional momentum for creation of a white nationalist authoritarian state continues.
This workshop will explore the similarities and differences between the 20th century rise of fascism in Europe and the Trump era, between Jim Crow apartheid and recent campaigning to reverse the gains since Brown vs. The Board of Education. Forces driving U.S. proto-fascism and their methods will be identified, including creation and manipulation of fear, finance and monopoly capital, assaults on the judicial system and the rule of law, racist scapegoating and oppression, condemnation and undermining the press, misogyny and restrictions on freedom of assembly and speech.
With workshop participants, we will review and explore traditions and means of resisting authoritarian systems and repression.
Breakout Session #2- PM 3:50PM-5:00PM
Two Minutes to Midnight: Campaigning to Reverse the Growing Nuclear Dangers – Room C106
Convener: Joseph Gerson (American Friends Service Committee, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security(CPDCS), and International Peace Bureau)
Presenters: Jerald Ross (CPDCS & Bedford Unitarian Universalists,) Kea Van Der Zeil (Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility), and Peter Casey (Mass. Peace Action)
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the hands of its Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to midnight, the closest to nuclear annihilation since the beginning of the Cold War. The U.S. is spending $1.7 trillion ($1,700,000,000,000) deploy a new generation of “more usable” nuclear weapons and the missiles, submarines and bombers to launch them. On more than 30 occasions during international crises and war, the U.S. has prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war. Add to these dangers the histories of nuclear weapons accidents, miscalculations and the growing great power confrontations with Russia and China.
From town meetings and city councils to the State House, and from the gates of Hanscom Air Base, to the halls of Congress and Hiroshima, people and organizations are pushing for nuclear disbarment.
Our breakout provides background and ways to engage campaigns from the Back from the Brink campaign to moving the money from the nuclear upgrade to funding essential human needs, challenging Hanscom’s role in preparing for first-strike nuclear war, to fulfill the promises of diplomacy with Korea, as well as lessons from the Hiroshima World Conference against A- & H-Bombs and the international movement.
From Explosions to Solutions in Merrimack Valley – Room C104
Convener: Audrey Schulman
Presenters: Nathan Phillips, professor, Department of Earth and Environment College of Arts and Science, Boston University; Ana Javier, President, Merrimack Valley Project
The Merrimack Valley gas explosions in September were a disaster for 20,000 residents, many of whom still have no heat, hot water or a way to cook beyond a single hot plate. Since Lawrence is one of the towns in the state with the lowest median income, where over 60% of the population is native Spanish speaking, the many problems of the disaster are compounded by income inequality, language barriers and fears of ICE.
Hear how a group quickly reacted, connecting with local organizations to help people on the ground get food on the table, while significantly reducing energy bills and emissions.
With relationships forged and practical experience on the ground, the coalition is now helping to ensure a significant number of the local homes are made ready to transition to renewables.
The breakout will consider how this rapid reaction format could be used in other situations.
Electoral Strategies – Room C103
Convener: Solomon Steen, Our Revolution Cambridge
Presenters: Matt Miller, Boston Democratic Socialists of America and Elugardo campaign; Russell Freedman, Progressive Democrats of America; Ziba Cranmer, co-chair, JP Progressives, interim committee, Progressive Mass, and Elugardo campaign; Erica Uyterhoeven, Our Revolution, Elugardo Campaign & 2016 Sanders Field Staff
At the local, state and national level, elected legislators play a key role in advancing or blocking the progressive agenda. The Nov. 6 elections have set the stage, Representatives from Progressive Massachusetts, Our Revolution, the Elugardo for State Rep. Campaign, The Mass Alliance, and Progressive Democrats of America will discuss the strategies and paths forward to increase the influence of movements for economic, racial, social and environmental justice by changing who those legislators are. How do we build a strategy in Democratically-controlled Massachusetts to remove the barriers that Democratic leaders place in the path of progress? What does the success of Nika Elugardo tell us about what is possible in Massachusetts and how to get there?
Immigrant Resistance: the fight for our families and nation – Room C318
Convener: Gabriel Camacho, American Friends Service Committee
Presenters: Heloisa Galvão, Executive Director, Brazilian Women’s Group (Brighton); Antonio Amaya, Member of the Comité TPS de Massachusetts; Iliana Panameno, Community Organizer, La Comunidad Inc. (Everett); Marion Davis, Communication Director with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Local immigrant community leaders will speak on their communities’ struggles against family separation and deportation. Updates will be provided on federal policy, national legislation, and local policy developments. Topics will include Temporary Protective Status, Public Charge, Immigrant Workers Rights, Sanctuary Cities and States, and the Caravan. Breakout participants will be asked to join and participate with immigrant communities in the many areas of battle in the coming two years. Materials will be provided.
Middle East Wars: New Dangers; New Opportunities – Room C105
Convener: Paul Shannon, AFSC
Presenters: Jeff Klein, Mass. Peace Action and Dorchester People for Peace; Valentine Moghadam, Professor of Sociology and International Affairs at Northeastern University
Iran; Syria; Yemen; Saudi Arabia; Iraq; Afghanistan. Come to deepen your understanding of the never-ending U.S. wars in the Middle East (and Afghanistan) and what we might be able to do to effectively oppose them. Particular focus will be given to both Yemen and the dangers posed by the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the attempts at regime change in Iran by the U.S./Saudi/Israel alliance – certainly by a draconian sanctions regime and possibly through a devastating war. Val will provide insight into the human impact and dangers of the new maximum pressure campaign against Iran as well as some perspective on the Afghanistan war. Jeff has recently visited Syria and will help us understand the dynamics of that country’s recent catastrophic war, the role of the U.S., and whether or not a peaceful resolution might now be possible. Paul is a coordinator of the new Raytheon anti-war campaign and will discuss new ways to oppose the dangerous alliance between Trump, U.S. war companies and the Saudi regime. Lots of opportunity for discussion about these complex and interlocking wars.
Anti-Racism for Activists – Room E305
Convener: Rosemary Kean, Mass. Peace Action
Presenters: Christine Maguire, Dorchester People for Peace; Kevin Peterson, The New Democracy Coalition; Rev. Vernon Walker
The anti-racism movement is growing worldwide as evidenced in this country by organizations such as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC). Organizers across the progressive spectrum of activism are realizing that, in Anne Braden’s words, “the fight against racism is our issue.” This breakout will define racism, white supremacy, and anti-racism; identify the 4 levels of racism; address white culture, advantage, and fragility, and discuss ways we can put anti-racism into practice. Resources and next steps will be highlighted along with the work of Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Institute.
Housing, Displacement and Homelessness – Room C311
Convener: Michael Kane, executive director, Mass. Alliance of HUD Tenants and National Alliance of HUD Tenants
Presenters: Cassie Hurd, Material Aid and Advocacy Program; Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge city councilor; Lee Farris, Cambridge Residents Association
Labor Militancy and Economic Justice – Room C101
Convener: Jared Hicks, YES on 1 organizer; Our Revolution MA and Mass Peace Action
Presenters: Jessica Tang, President, Boston Teachers Union; Gillian Mason, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
UNITE-HERE Local 26 is on strike against Marriott; Mass. Nurses waged a tremendous fight on patient staffing levels with Yes on 1; National Grid has locked out United Steelworkers natural gas workers; and RaiseUp Massachusetts won a $15 minimum wage and paid family medical leave in the legislature this year by being ready to win referenda at the ballot box. This session will discuss what’s next for labor and economic justice struggles in Massachusetts.
Building a Movement for Educational Justice – from funding equity to testing sanity – Room E303
Convener: Monty Neill, past Executive Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing and a member of the board of directors of Citizens for Public Schools
Presenters: Lisa Guisbond, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Schools, Assessment Reform Advocate for FairTest and President of the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance (MEJA); Charlotte Kelly, Executive Director of MEJA; Deborah McCarthy, President of the Hull Teachers Association and a fifth grade teacher in Hull.
The No on 2 fight to keep the cap on charter schools demonstrated the importance of parents, teachers, students and community members working together against efforts to undermine public schools. In the wake of that victory, these groups continue to fight for the schools our students deserve. This workshop will feature four short presentations by educators, organizers and advocates. Afterward, we will break into small groups to discuss how to build the movement, then come together to share ideas for the road ahead.
Faith and the Progressive Movement – Shepard Room
Convener: June Cooper, executive director, City Mission
Presenters: Tina Chery, executive director, Louis D. Brown Peace Institute; Keith Harvey, regional director, American Friends Service Committee; Darrell Hamilton, First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
Through out the history of progressive movements, faith communities have often taken a strong role in advocating for change. This breakout session will provide an opportunity to hear from several panelist describing their experience working in and with faith communities for positive community change. Then have a open dialogue with those in attendance discussing where and how faith communities can be a positive influence in today’s challenging world.