#DefendDACA by Southerners on New Ground (SONG)


[English Below]

Nunca hemos estado bajo ilusión sobre este momento político. Desde el día de la elección en el 2016, hemos estado preparándonos y desarrollando una estrategia para el incremento en la violencia racial descarada que se ha manifestado, la cual está perpetuada por individuos y el estado. La semana pasada, la seguridad de miles de personas que se escapaban de las aguas crecientes en Texas se puso en peligro debido a la ejecución insensible e innecesaria de retenes de inmigración. El día de ayer, Trump enfatizó su agenda racista al desencadenar otra tormenta de devastación en inmigrantes jóvenes al rescindir DACA y reemplazarla con la incertidumbre y el injusto estado de derecho. Estamos solidarixs con millones de sureñxs y gente de alrededor del país demandando una vía justa para la residencia legal y ciudadanía, y acabar con este régimen supremacista blanco que no es sólo anti-inmigrante, sino también explícitamente anti-negrx, anti-pobre, anti-queer, y anti-trans.

A nuestra membresía, nuestra familia, política y nuestra base: luchamos por DACA porque creemos en la plena inclusión de todas las personas en la gestión pública y la auto-determinación para millones de personas de nuestra familia indocumentada. Entendimos que DACA era una oportunidad – práctica y política – para amortiguar contra la cultura del miedo impuesta en nuestra existencia diaria por el estado. Pero nunca hemos olvidado que esta lucha es para la liberación de TODXS nosotrxs, y que nuestro mandato es acabar con la criminalización racial, supremacía blanca, y violencia de género. Hemos luchado por la auto-determinación en cada esfera de nuestra vidas públicas y privadas; sabemos lo que se necesita para organizarnos por nuestra seguridad y dignidad cada día.

Hacemos un llamado a las instituciones privadas y públicas, así como al liderazgo local, estatal y nacional de solidarizarse con nuestras comunidades en resistencia y luchar a nuestro lado para anular esta cínica maniobra política. Hace mucho tiempo que finalizó el tiempo para la timidez y la política de respetabilidad. Ahora es el tiempo de renovar el compromiso para luchar para y defendernos a nosotrxs, nuestras familias, y a nuestrxs camaradas.

We have never been confused about this political moment. Since Election Day 2016, we have been preparing and strategizing for the increase in unapologetic race-based violence – perpetuated by individuals and the state – that has come to pass. Last week, the safety of the thousands fleeing the rising waters in Texas was jeopardized by the callous and unnecessary enforcement of immigration checkpoints. Yesterday, Trump doubled down on his racist agenda in unleashing another storm of devastation on young immigrants by rescinding DACA and replacing it with uncertainty and the rule of unjust law.  We stand with the millions of Southerners and people across this country demanding a fair path to legal residency and citizenship, and an end to this white supremacist political regime that is not only anti-immigrant, but also explicitly anti-Black, anti-poor, anti-queer, and anti-trans.

To our membership, political family, and base: we fought for DACA because we believe in the full inclusion of all peoples in governance and in self-determination for millions of our undocumented kinfolk. We understood DACA as an opportunity – practical and political – to buffer against the culture of fear imposed upon our daily existence by the state.  But we have never forgotten that this struggle is about liberation for ALL of us, that our mandate is to end racialized criminalization, white supremacy, and gender based violence.  We have fought for self-determination in every sphere of our public and private lives; we know what is required to organize for our safety and dignity every day.

We call on private and public institutions, along with local, state and national political leadership to stand with our communities in resistance and to fight alongside us to overturn this cynical political maneuver. The time for timidity and respectability politics has long been over. Now is the time to renew commitment to fight for and defend ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and our comrades.

#HereToStay #DefendDACA #EndMoneyBail #Endpolimigra


Mural Unveiling: Oscar López Rivera Mural in Chicago

Building off the success of the book When We Fight, Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World, AgitArte presents the book’s Arts & Culture Tour highlighting the artwork featured in the book, as well as new cultural projects and artistic productions of struggle and solidarity. The tour launches next week with the inauguration of a mural in Chicago dedicated to Oscar López Rivera, freedom for political prisoners and dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex.

The mural, ‘Oscar, somos la marejada de la liberación’, ‘Oscar, we are the groundswell of liberation’ is a collaboration between The Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago and AgitArte, and it is sponsored by When We Fight We Win and El Puente in Brooklyn.
The metaphor of the sea in the title to the mural refers to a letter Oscar wrote to his granddaughter while he was in prison, in which he makes reference to missing the smell of the sea and being able to feel it on his lips. He concludes by stating that he probably will have to wait years to be able to finally be in it again.

Now Oscar is free and we are making a mural to celebrate his freedom. The title is directed for Oscar, and inspired by his resilience and faith in freedom. But we also use the metaphor to answer the calling he made to us in AgitArte’s workshop in Santurce PR weeks ago, to fight for the freedom of political prisoners who are still behind bars. We, a sea of people are essential for the tidal wave of freedom to tear down the oppressive systems which exploit and colonize us.

The mural was designed by Osvaldo Budet Melendez and illustrated by José ‘Primo’ Hernández for AgitArte. The painting of the mural is being led by Osvaldo Budet with community members and artists including Jose “Primo Hernández” Estefania Rivera and Xavier Arzola.

‘Oscar, we are the groundswell of liberation’ will be inaugurated on Friday, September 1st to kick off the annual Fiesta Boricua, in the historical Paseo Boricua, heart of the Puerto Rican community in Chicago.

Join us for a press conference at 11am on 2729-2731 Division St., and shortly after, the When We Fight We Win Arts and Culture Tour kick-off. A storytelling presentation based on the mural will be performed by Puerto Rico based theater group Papel Machete.

We will also be joined by community leaders and organizers speaking to the importance of freeing political prisoners and our educational, organizing and visionary efforts to end the prison industrial complex.

Oscar will join us for the celebration of this commemoratory mural and the Festival throughout the weekend. Come celebrate with us this special moment and join us in the chant of victory and title to our book: ¡Cuando luchamos, ganamos!


WHAT: Mural unveiling & performance by AgitArte | Papel Machete

WHEN: Friday, August 25, 11am

WHERE: Outside of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center – 2739 W. Division St. • Chicago, IL 60622

When We Fight, We Win! at the People’s Climate March

AgitArte artists Jorge Díaz Ortiz and José “Primo” Hernández designed “Climate Denier” signs used during the People’s Climate March in Washington DC on April 29th. This project was developed as part of AgitArte’s series of cultural projects presented alongside When We Fight, We Win!
See our work featured in The Washington Post!

*Photo by Brady Dennis / The Washington Post

The Change Agent, Issue 44, March 2017 – SPECIAL EDITION: When We Fight, We Win!

CHECK OUT the new publication in collaboration with Southerners On New Ground  (SONG) and The Change Agent based on the knowledge and art of When We Fight, We Win!

Design and layout by AgitArte.





Issue 44, March 2017 – When We Fight, We Win!

When we fight, what might we win? In this issue, writers share their stories of struggle and reflect on the large and small things they have won in the process. Maybe by fighting, they achieved their goal. Or maybe they didn’t achieve their goal yet, but by being in the fight, they’ve made friends, created community, used their voice, navigated a hard struggle, and discovered their power. What else might you win when you engage in the fight — whether it’s an internal battle or a struggle to create social and political change?”

Read on to find out.

The Change Agent provides socially relevant content, powerful student writing that inspires discussion, and ready-to-use, CCR-aligned lesson plans – all oriented toward a multi-level audience.






What can we do?

7 actions we can take right now
Though the Trump era is frightening, it is not really unprecedented. We have faced grave domestic dangers in the US, dangers that led to mass mobilizing and a transformed society. From the repression of the 1950s McCarthy era, grew the civil rights, anti-war, women’s and Black power movements. The modern LGBTQ movement was born out of the Stonewall Riots when trans working class folks fought back against police brutality; later the repression targeted at AIDs patients reignited the movement. We can learn from them.

Many people are joining marches, some for their first time, and wanting to know “What can we do?”

The Movement for Black LivesWomen’s , Immigrant and Standing Rock water protectors immigrant protests across the country show how fertile this moment is and how organized action can turn fear and hopelessness into a transformative movement.

Though it’s a fine start, don’t just ask folks to write a letter. This is not a time for business as usual but a time to be fierce, compassionate, organized, loving, effective and, most of all, focused on our vision of a welcoming, joyful, caring, and just society. 

At the Leading with Love in a Time of Violence webinar, Adrienne Maree Brown said, “Whatever you shine your attention on, that is what will grow.” I’m focusing my time, energy, money, and attention on seven actions that speak to me most and describe some of what we can do now:

Shine your light on the future we are working towards and what we want to grow.  Compelling visions matter—they are the light that guides us. We can focus on the love, beauty, and the personal, community, cultural and systemic transformation we envision—such as the Women’s March vision statement and the Movement for Black Lives Platform which outline a powerful economic and social vision. The right wing succeeds, in part, by putting out a bold vision. Don’t be shy.

Create spaces for your own and others calm and clarity. Resistance is difficult—we must care for ourselves and others, stay strong, clearly focused and even smiling. These times require us to eat well, get sleep, exercise, sing, meditate, pray, get out in nature, play, offer kindness and service or whatever gives you and your people joy and clarity. Instead of being locked into certainty and constricted by fear, we can be train our minds to be open, wise, humble, generous, liberating and courageous. We can make our struggle joyful. Prioritize resilience and put love at the center in all work.

Organize.  Join or create and build an organization. There’s strength in numbers—that’s the force of movements. Organizations need your help providing basic needs, defending vulnerable communities, reaching the media, changing policy, creating movement art, building the infrastructure of transformation, etc. Find one of the many great organizations in your community; we can help you. Join the social action committee of your faith group. Leverage our existing service institution to take action. Create appealing openings for the many who are desperate to take action yet new to activism. The Women’s March starts by asking folks to send a postcard and take a photograph of it and post it using their hashtag—it’s one way to use simple acts to build our organizations, power and voice.

Frame ideas, symbols and slogans skillfully so they can reach multiple audiences—potential recruits and allies, leaders, likely policymakers, etc. Arts, theatre, memes, humor and stories can help us move people. Think Pink Pussy Power Hat. Call out the media when they normalize this government’s misogyny and racism. Step up; use your financial, gender and race privilege to step out front to give cover for those who cannot be visible for safety reasons and step back to allow the voices of those most impacted to show us solutions. Work to delegitimize this election and exploit how Trump has already betrayed his supporters with his big bank appointments. Focus blame on systems, not individuals—transformative change requires getting at root causes. Concentration of power by the right wing has been happening over 30+ years—this is not simply about Trump. Being fierce is more important than being popular. The resisters in Ferguson and Occupy changed our language and the national conversation.

Build critical skills, gain missing capacities and knowledge. Learn how to run effective meetings and gatherings that build connection, community, and fun and make our work irresistible and compelling. Learn digital security and safe communications. We can offer or take non-violence and organizer trainings. The Ruckus society, 350.org, Social Transformation Project, and others have great resources in multiple languages. Learn about racism, patriarchy and capitalism; study the root causes of how we got to where we are. Learn how to build organizations and power while asking folks to call their elected representatives so we don’t waste precious energy. This is not a practice drill.

Stay awake, up to date and alert on the news, movement successes and tactics and strategies. While it’s tempting to want to turn off the news and not face the daily horrors, equanimity will allow us to face them squarely and it’s easy to listen to Democracy Now!’s 10 minute headlines via podcast. Political Research Associate’s weekly updates help us understand what the sophisticated Alt-Right is doing.

Protect, march, defend, disrupt. Protect the rights that have been won and the communities that are most vulnerable. The American Civil Liberties Union has a free app you can download to send video from your phone directly to the ACLU if you see a questionable police encounter. We can call on our cities, schools or places of worship to pledge support for immigrants and provide safety for those threatened and show up at housing evictions or marches. Expose who is funding and behind the neo-Nazi, Klan, and Right Wing groups and disrupt their hateful organizations. Think ACT-UP which helped stop the government’s quarantining of AIDS patients in the 1980s and exposed the complicit media. Think Montgomery Bus Boycott. Join boycotts and build toward massive non-cooperation. Sign petitions. Call on your local governments to develop strategies for protective action. Advocate fiercely against internment and ethnic persecution and be transformed by this moment.

Write and tell me what you are doing and keep sending me your best stuff. Over the next few days and weeks I will be sharing more details and links. There has never been a better moment to build movements and transform our world.
In solidarity,

Greg Jobin-Leeds


Martin Luther King’s Radical Legacy, From the Poor People’s Campaign to Black Lives Matter

Martin Luther King’s Radical Legacy, From the Poor People’s Campaign to Black Lives Matter
Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou ▪ January 15, 2017


“The only thing I ask is that they not take the freeways. Dr. King would never take a freeway.” So said Kasim Reed, the liberal African American mayor of Atlanta, in response to Black Lives Matter protests in King’s birth city last summer. Noted conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly has likewise postulated with great confidence that “Dr. King would not participate in a Black Lives Matter protest.” Reed and O’Reilly were quickly lambasted for their lack of historical accuracy: Martin Luther King, Jr., of course, led the iconic 1965 march across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge and countless other acts of disruptive civil disobedience. But their sentiment reveals our popular misunderstanding of the life and legacy of America’s favorite civil rights leader.
Liberals and conservatives alike are quick to appropriate Martin Luther King, Jr. to justify their political aims and buttress their opinions of social movements. Corporations such as Apple have used his words and image to sell their wares, while pundits of all persuasions have invoked his name to browbeat younger activists and their tactics. Such is the case with Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), commonly known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Often denigrated in public discourse, Black Lives Matter is the largest movement for racial justice since the civil rights movement of King’s day.


Keep Reading…



“In trying times, we lean on our traditions and practices, ones we have inherited and ones we have evolved, to better reflect who we are as people in the highest vision of ourselves, decolonized in mind, spirit, skin and love. The plagues of cynicism and despair hunt us in these moments looking for our vulnerabilities. They try to convince us that our lives are not worth fighting for, but our rituals and legacy serve as touchstones in surviving, resisting, combatting, and wading through crises of faith, of imagination, and of hope.

Today, we ask us all to call forth our mantras.

Call forth our protection mantras knowing that today’s inauguration is not the beginning of incomprehensible injustices to humanity.

Call forth our defense mantras knowing that all that we believe is sacred is worth guarding, giving sanctuary, providing refuge, and going to bat for.

Call forth our vision mantras knowing that our actions are sustained and fortified by the ancestral knowledge, the hope, and the possibility of what James Baldwin called Paradise.

Today is not the inauguration of our commitment in word and in deed to The Mandate, but it is a reminder to look at each other with fire in our eyes. It is a nudge to take in our lovers, our babies, our chosen families, and our extended kindred network of people we have never met with a deep breath to remember that we have always found agency despite despair.

Whether you are in the streets today or tomorrow, whether you are in your home with prayer, or just at work like any other day: we call us all forward towards our collective liberation and towards the vision of our abundance. May you go forward, taking steps back as needed, and standing in the wayside when called, with this offering from Adrienne Maree Brown,


to manage the grief
we tie our roots together
trading sorrows

to speak when there is danger
we learn to hear heartbeats
as drums

to speak of what no one has seen
we create a whisper
of hurricanes

to make a world that can hold us
we teach each other
every small imperfect part of love

we will protect you
we will hold you
we will be protector
we will be protected

i will protect the skin you were born in
i will protect your right to love
i will protect your right to pray
i will protect your right to choose
i will protect your however-body
and i will protect your total
and radical




Water Is Life: In Defense of Sovereignty at Standing Rock. By SONG

Over the last few months, we’ve witnessed the growing movement and active resistance led by the Lakota/Dakota Nations, or the seven council fires that make up the Oceti Sakowin. Many more indigenous nations, brave and visionary elders and young people, women and two spirit warriors from around the world have joined them, because they know the fight to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline is part of the long-standing battle against colonization that has plagued this continent and the globe for hundreds of year (Learn more by reading the Standing Rock Syllabus). These Water Protectors are standing in defense of water, land, traditions, and the right to govern themselves without interference from corporations or state entities. The SONG political family stands in solidarity with the Water Protectors and warriors currently at the site of major political and spiritual resistance: Standing Rock, North Dakota, one of the largest gatherings of indigenous people in modern history.



If you’re interested in joining other SONG members and political family traveling to support on the ground resistance or if you have additional ways to support and amplify please contact kindred@southernersonnewground.org

How to Reimagine the World


How to Reimagine the World. Collaboration Principles for Artists & Social Justice Organizers

Developed by Micah Bazant, Forward Together, and CultureStrike

“Imagine Black liberation movements without music, trans and queer freedom struggles without dance, immigrant justice movements without posters and murals.
Art and culture are not just accessories to organizing, they are indispensable. Critical. The blood and and re of our movements.

They sustain us and allow us to not only imagine, but to feel the world we are building together. Art touches us powerfully and immediately. It conveys our dreams, rage, and joy, in ways that data and petitions cannot. Artists in frontline and targeted communities expand our movements and cross social divides by uncovering truths, reimagining our stories, and engaging more people. Cultural work may not always result in easily measurable outcomes, but it opens crucial space to dream bigger and envision the worlds we want to create.