Putting the “move” in movements: An intergenerational panel

In August, organizers and activists from across the US South came together for our annual All-Members Gathering (AMG). Across two days of workshops and strategy discussions, a number of themes emerged:

  • Working in more collaboration and solidarity with one another, across identities
  • Being adaptable to change and meeting the political moment, while making space and time to ask the right questions rather than acting from a place of reaction
  • Recognizing the ways in which disaster capitalism takes advantage of disasters to consolidate power—and the importance of joining forces in the face of intersecting disasters
  • Prioritizing creativity and imagination in advancing liberation—through innovative technology tools, mutual aid efforts, and abolition frameworks, and more
  • Letting go of perfectionism and having to be right; having accountability processes that acknowledge harm without perpetuating the carceral system of shame and isolation

Tying together these themes, our plenary panel centered on the idea of metamorphosis: Movements are dynamic forces, constantly growing and evolving. As Loan Tran, an AMG speaker and our former Co-Executive Director, put it, “The key word in ‘movement’ is moving!”

See below for a recording of the plenary and some memorable quotes from our panelists. And a big thanks to our comrade, Sam Gomez, for the incredible visual notes that she took throughout AMG to illustrate the focus and spirit of the gathering!

“Climate justice impacts everyone. The hog and chicken farms, lagoons, coal ash, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, trees from the wood pellets, mountaintop removal. You name it. It’s a basic human right to have clean water, air, and land in order to survive. We are an active community – visionaries – and we want to sculpt our futures and benefit from the economies that work for the common good for all.”

— Larsene Taylor, Down East Coal Ash Environmental and Social Justice Coalition & SVA Board Member 

“In the wake of a growing and extremely dangerous white nationalist and fasict movement, we got no other choice but to build the deepest and broadest united front that we can create and sustain. We got to work in unison. We can’t let the fight over funding keep us apart, which is why the Southern Vision Alliance is so important because it’s bringing people together and resourcing us.”

— Ajamu Dillahunt, Black Workers for Justice and Southern Workers Assembly 

“If the most marginalized folks are seen as whole and valued, then we all win. We’re all seen as whole and valued. Something that’s made organizing feel more sustainable, that people could tap in and out of, was creating deliberate spaces to debrief and really talk about our feelings in the work. This really impacts us deeply to our core, in our souls, in our bodies.” Nijeeah went on, “Being a small organization, one of the ways we best work to mitigate harm of all of these systems that attack LGBTQ youth is to work in coalitions. Recognizing that we can’t do the work alone.”

— Nijeeah Richardson, SVA Frontline Funds Associate, previous Executive Director of We Are Family

“In my experience in the movement, we have not been great about letting people have space to deal with disabilities and illnesses, and that’s shifting and changing.”

— LeiLani Dowell, SVA Associate Director

“When we’re talking about sustainability, we need to include youth in every step of the way.” And, “Thank you again SVA for lifting me up and making me shine.”

— Anita Cunningham, Robeson County Cooperative for Sustainable Development and the NC Disaster Survival & Resiliency School

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