This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Marches. In March 1965, activists including Dr. King, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, and John Lewis led a series of protest marches covering the 54 miles from Selma to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. People of different races, ethnicities, and religions marched for voting rights, which ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which banned literacy tests and mandated federal oversight in counties that had a history of discriminatory registration practices.
The struggle and ultimate triumph of the Selma to Montgomery marches is a landmark of the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement was also the catalyst for the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which abolished discriminatory immigration quotas that had overwhelmingly excluded people from southern and eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These were also some of the regions where people were being displaced and natural resources exploited as a result of American imperialism.
50 years later, the fight for social justice continues. Voter ID laws disproportionately impact poor people and people of color. Also, a few years ago, the Supreme Court dismantled significant parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And immigrant families, including those seeking asylum, face the threat of separation through detention and deportation.
50 years later, we still need leaders who can analyze and address long-standing structural and institutional problems. We need leaders who understand the value and strength that comes from living and working alongside people who are different from them.
In honor of National Women’s History Month, I’d like to share a thought from the writer and poet Audre Lorde:
Sometimes we are blessed with being able to choose the time, and the arena, and the manner of our revolution, but more usually we must do battle where we are standing.
This March, we are highlighting Measuring a Leader’s Social Justice and Racial Analysis skills, which include:
• Embracing diversity based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age
• Understanding the historical origins of long-standing structural problems
• Ensuring equitable and just outcomes for all people
We’re also highlighting some of the ways that members are demonstrating these skills, such as:
• Engaging in community-based organizations through volunteerism
• Blogging or leading presentations on social justice topics
• Speaking comfortably about issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age
• Highlighting a list of publications on social justice topics
- Try out our sample discussion and peer coaching guides that you can use to share and exchange ideas, resources, and best practices. Organize a brown bag lunch and try them out in your local chapter! Give us your feedback on how we can improve for the following months.
- Follow us on Twitter @EPIPNational and retweet our posts. Use #EPIPLeaders to follow and join in the Measuring a Leader conversation.
- Tweet about it! Use #EPIPLeaders to share your own thoughts, ideas, or skills-related resources!
- Write a blog post. For example, how are you developing your Social Justice and Racial Analysis skills? Share what you’re learning through our blog! [EPIP Blogging Guidelines]
- Is your local chapter recruiting for new steering committee members? If so, apply to serve on a steering committee! Steering committees provide additional opportunities to develop Measuring a Leader skills.
- Check out some tools and resources developed by EPIP members and friends. Do you have a favorite resource, tool, article, book to help strengthen Social Justice and Racial Analysis skills? Share them in the comments section!
- Like us on Facebook
- Join our LinkedIn group
- Are you on a local chapter steering committee? If you and/or your local chapter might want to co-design or co-lead in this campaign, fill out our survey here and we’ll get in touch!