Frontline Funds Grantee Spotlight – People’s Power Lab

Frontline Funds Grantee Spotlight – People’s Power Lab

by | Mar 20, 2024 | Movement Building

The beginning of the 20th century launched a war on Muslims at home and abroad in the form of the “war on terror.” In the last 24 years many Muslim-majority countries and regions have been attacked, draconian laws and policies (including Muslim Ban and Muslim Registry/NSEERS) have been issued in the United States, and Islamophobia has been frequently deployed as a wedge-issue during election cycles. Attacks against Muslims, or Islamophobia, are deeply tied to racism, anti-immigrant/anti-refugee policies, anti-worker attacks, and other forms of oppression.

People’s Power Lab (PPL) was launched in 2022 to build an intersectional movement against oppressions faced by Black, brown, and Muslim (BBM) working class community members in the Triangle Area of North Carolina, Rocky Mount, and other regions of NC. PPL draws strength from two decades of organizing in the BBM communities and our close partnerships with Muslims for Social Justice, Black Workers for Justice, Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center, RefundRaleigh, and other grassroots partners. 

Participants of the “Linking Our Struggles” forum at Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center. Many participants from this forum and other organizing campaigns established People’s Power Lab in 2022.

Community Gatherings and Relationship Building

PPL believes that we need to build trust and relationships with the most impacted people in our community before requesting tasks or calls to action for political/social justice events. Social and cultural gatherings at public parks and working-class neighborhoods are essential to build these relationships. Creating spaces for people facing economic crises, health/mental-health crises, anti-immigrant discrimination, is in fact a revolutionary act and leads to recruitment and engagement of people in a long term movement. As a result of these activities, we have built strong relationships with community members facing housing crises, incarceration/detention, mental health crisis, unfair working conditions, denial of language justice, and other disparities. PPL has built a base within immigrants and refugees from South Asia/Middle East/Africa and African American community members in the Triangle and Rocky Mount. We are also organizing white and privileged allies to become principled partners and follow the lead of BBM working-class community members. 

People’s Power Lab has organized multiple gatherings at parks, homes, and community centers in low-income neighborhoods to develop relationships with impacted community members. October 30, 2023.

Organizing Our Base

PPL engages in flyering and listening sessions within our community, including low-income immigrants, refugees, and African American community members in the Triangle Area and Rocky Mount. One area of focus includes a refugee apartment complex off Sandy Forks Rd near Falls of Neuse in Northeast Raleigh. As a result of flyering for the last four years, we have built relationships with many Rohingya, Afghan, Syrian, Somali, Congolese, and Central African Republic refugees. They often work in low-income and hazardous professions like meat-packing plants where workers were refused time-off during COVID-19 outbreak, painting jobs with the hazard of falling from ladders, and other dangerous and low-income professions. We also organize in low-income Black and brown neighborhoods close to where our members live, including Northeast Raleigh, Knightdale, Chatham Square in Cary (home to a large mobile home community that are condemned to be razed to make space for expensive development), Rocky Mount and Whitakers (one of the largest food deserts in the country).

Iman Sharif (Rohingya refugee) and his family members in Raleigh. They escaped genocide in Myanmar. Their story is similar to many Afghan, Syrian, Somali, Congolese, and Central African Republic refugees who have escaped violence yet still separated from many of their family members in their home countries.

Political Education and Leadership Development

In order to gain the trust of our people, PPL organizes political education and leadership development sessions. The organization prioritizes in-person sessions in the working class neighborhoods. These include root-cause analysis sessions, landscape analysis exercises, and strategy sessions. We also provide skill-building training in creating our own media and even homework support and translation services for immigrant/refugee community members. Many community members who attended our political education sessions eventually joined actions to exercise power (see more below), spoke at city council meetings, held their legislators accountable, and asserted other forms of leadership. Because of the geographic spread of our members, we also do online workshops, however, our goal is to limit online sessions, and maximize in-person sessions. People who attend online sessions are encouraged to join us for in-person grassroots organizing actions.

Flyer for Decolonize Media Workshop by People’s Power Lab and Muslims for Social Justice. December 13, 2024

PPL social justice essay writing workshop. February 5, 2024

Exercising Power in the Streets

People’s Power Lab organizes protests and rallies against oppressions faced by our people. Some of the protests and rallies we have organized challenged wars, gentrification, and denial of healthcare. We were part of political actions to end gentrification in Southeast Raleigh, which was partially successful when the City of Raleigh required Shaw University not to demolish the Shaw University Mosque (King Khalid Mosque). Similarly, PPL worked with our allies to organize multiple rallies and actions to demand a ceasefire in Gaza that allowed us some successes in local city councils. Lastly, our members have organized protests against CVS Pharmacy for their support of limiting healthcare access to people through their opposition to Medicare for All. These protests and rallies allowed us to mobilize thousands of people and we developed a database of 2,000 people in 2023 alone. However, mobilizing is not organizing, and we plan to organize one-on-one members who have been mobilized in our rallies.

Munir Abdul Hakim (far left) organized with the southeast Raleigh community to defend Shaw University Mosque (King Khalid Mosque) and oppose gentrification in the neighborhood. April 1, 2024.

PPL and our partners co-organzied multiple pro-Palestine rallies in downtown Raleigh in the last three years. The picture above depicts a rally in May 2021

Exercising Power at the Polls

We engage people for non-partisan candidate forums, GOTV campaigns, and continually exercise civic power by speaking at city councils and engaging legislators one-on-one. However, we are not focussed on elections as a sole arena to assert people’s power. We have a movement approach to organize people and assert our power before, during, and after the elections. We draw lessons from historic struggles in North Carolina, from the sit-in movement at A&T University, the birth of the environmental justice movement, the defeat of HB2 law, and the recent expansion of Medicaid, a result of a 10-year struggle. Based on these strategies, we gained limited successes, including passage of ceasefire resolutions in Durham and Carrboro city councils. Similarly, the balance of power in Raleigh has shifted where four out eight city council members support progressive issues. However, we still have a long way to go. We will continue pressuring NC congressional members to support the ceasefire resolution.

PPL joined Refund Raleigh and partners in the Raleigh People’s Budget Coalition on September 13, 2023, to hold Raleigh City Council candidate accountable for bead and butter issues for the people. This was a non-partisan forum candidate forum.

Palestine Speakout at Raleigh City Council on November 14, 2024. As a result of grassroots political pessure, Durham City Council passed a ceasefire resolution, while Raleigh City resolution was tied 4-4

Next Steps

People’s Power Lab will continue to strengthen our work in the five areas mentioned above. We will expand our base in other cities in NC where we have made connections, including Fayetteville and Winston-Salem. Lastly, we will continue to enhance our impact by playing an active role in the state-wide People’s Power Agenda Coalition.

People’s Power Lab looks forward to working with social justice forces throughout North Carolina and beyond to accomplish our collective mission of ending all forms of oppression and liberating all people!

Sign up for movement updates & action alerts!

Translate »

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Verified by MonsterInsights