RG at CPD’s People’s Convention!

We were proud to have sent a delegation of 8 RG members and 5 staff to Center for Popular Democracy’s People’s Convention last month!

This was a big step in developing our national campaign partnership with CPD and in being a visible, organized group of young people with wealth in a space centering poor and working class communities of color. We’re excited to share reflections below from two of the members who were part of our delegation. 

We also want to thank the RG community for raising $18,835 for the convention, exceeding our goal of $15,000! The funds helped CPD affiliates cover the cost of sending their members to the powerful and transformative in-person gathering.

Some thoughts from a couple of RG folks who were there:

From Alexis Meisels, new RG member in the Bay Area:
With months to go before my 36th birthday, I’m taking every opportunity RG offers me to grow into an unstoppable ally for social justice and redemption. With only a basic understanding of CPD and very green direct action experience, I heeded the call to share power with the pros. I will tell you, I felt the earth shake when 1,800 heroic and powerful organizers (from 53 organizations across 131 cities in 34 states and Puerto Rico and DC) drummed, marched and learned together for three non-stop days in Detroit. I turned in every direction to shake hands with warriors from any given place — Maine, Miami, Macon, Michigan — fighting and winning local campaigns that are making justice right.

CPD presented a thorough blueprint for collective liberation and asked us repeatedly to honor our individual power as we unify for change. I attended as a stranger to 8 other members of RG, and departed with profound gratitude of our shared experience, perspectives and friendship. In addition, dozens of organizers showed up for RG workshops “Class Privilege & Organizing: The Role of Wealthy People in the Movement” and “Dismantling Class Privilege to Build Cross Class Power,” and it was powerful to share the gifts of storytelling around class, safety and truth with new souls. CPD and affiliates taught us masterful skills in workshops on “Fighting to break Amazon’s grip on our economy and democracy,” “Claiming our Narrative; Deconstructing the Dominant Ideology,” “Beating Wall Street to Win Economic Power for Workers & Communities,” and many others. If you’re looking for a vicarious experience (or just want an energizing few minutes to start your week) check out CDP’s 4 min super cut here

Over the next five years, the Center for Popular Democracy seeks to organize a base of one million individuals, activated by grassroots and movement leaders. I’m so emboldened, and activated by this vision; I support CPD to grow the strength and power of one million people moving together for the rights and freedoms all citizens deserve.

From Elizabeth Baldwin, Boston Chapter leader and member of the National Member Council:
I learned a powerful lesson on the practice of centering those most impacted at the Center for Popular Democracy’s People’s Convention. 

It was the second day and Senator Elizabeth Warren had called in via Zoom  to give her presidential stump speech and then answer questions from several of the brilliant youth organizers at the CPD Convention. As she signed off, a Native organizer from stage right started calling out that Senator Warren had gotten advantages for claiming she was indigenous and that Native people haven’t been given these advantages and are being targeted and killed.

I immediately cringed as the MC grabbed the mic imagining she would tell this organizer to stop talking or leave.

Instead the MC — Jennifer Epps-Addison who is one of the Co-Executive Directors — called to the Native organizer, “sister come up on stage, come up here.” The organizer came up on stage and spoke about how Native women are the most likely of women in the US to be raped and murdered. Her voice was loud, angry and illustrated the fury and pain she described. She also expressed her frustration and anger at CPD for not centering Native people and issues in the policy platform they  had shared earlier that morning. She received an applause as she handed the mic back to Jennifer. I was in disbelief and turned to the other RGers at the table with wide and tearful eyes. 

Yet Jennifer wasn’t done — she said that because of what this organizer had said, the CPD convention organizers would convene at lunch with the indigenous organizers to better center and focus on Native perspectives and centering the organizing happening in Indigenous communities. 

Throughout the convention I witnessed what it means to center those most impacted and follow their leadership in the conversation on liberation. It doesn’t matter how our poor and working class comrades show up and voice their needs and leadership: our allyship isn’t conditional on them making us feel comfortable or unchallenged. My experience at the CPD People’s Convention reminded me of my wealth, class, education, and citizen privileges. I was incredibly humbled that these communities who have been so harmed by the rich and powerful welcomed our RG delegation and offered their knowledge and wisdom in movement building.