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The Advancing Black Strategists Initiative Issues Call to Action

Protecting and Defending Black Workers Through Black Leadership & Collective Power-Building

The Advancing Black Strategists Initiative (ABSI) is a joint project of the Jobs With Justice Education Fund, the Black Worker Initiative at the Institute for Policy Studies, and Morehouse College International Comparative Labor Studies

. The overarching vision is to create a cohort of Black economic-justice and labor-focused strategists committed to leading, developing, and advancing policies and campaigns that support the collective power-building of working people, particularly in the South.

Right now, more than ever, we must protect and defend Black workers in our Country. Black people are at the center of the three most significant events to impact the U.S. in the last one hundred years:

  1. A global pandemic: COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on every aspect of Black peoples’ lives: infections, mortality, job loss, and economic insecurity.
  2. An economic depression: Furthermore, because of systematic occupational segregation, the economic shutdown and inadequate relief have only left Black workers further behind.  
  3. Urban rebellions: the extrajudicial killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and George Floyd have sparked a Black-led multiracial rebellions across our Nation.

Therefore, as the ABSI Advisory Committee, we are issuing a national CALL TO ACTION:

  1. Calling Black strategists to Join our 15 July strategy session: bring your ideas for COVID recovery, black liberation, local campaign stories, strategy ideas, and policy proposals. Connect with local and national leaders
  2. Join our network
  3. Look for our position announcements (forthcoming)
  4. Donate to ASBI
  5. Black strategists and allies: Save the date: September 3rd 2020 – ASBI official launch (Virtual event details forthcoming)

ABSI’s school of thought is anchored in the principle that working people’s ability to organize and collectively bargain, alongside voting and other forms of civic participation, is a prerequisite for a healthy society and economy. ABSI is uniquely situated to develop this school of thought due to its anchoring location in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Morehouse College International Comparative Labor Studies Department. Through a network of visiting scholars, movement fellows, research workshops, intern placements, and more, ABSI will help to produce and support the Black strategists required in this uncertain time.

ABSI Co-Conveners:

  • Erica Smiley, Executive Director, Jobs With Justice
  • Dr. Cynthia Hewitt, Professor and Chair, Morehouse College International Comparative Labor Studies
  • Marc Bayard, Associate Fellow and Director, Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative

ABSI Advisory Committee:

  • Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chief of Race, Wealth and Community, National Community Reinvestment Coalition
  • Dr. Algernon Austin, Senior Researcher at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, NAACP LDF
  • Janel Bailey, Co-Director, LA Black Worker Center
  • Ashli Bolden, Civic Engagement Director, Missouri Jobs With Justice
  • Dr. Sheri Davis, Senior Program Director for WILL Empower with the Center for Innovation in Worker Organization (CIWO), Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations
  • Felicia Davis, Co-founder, HBCU Green Fund and Coordinator of Sustainability, Clark Atlanta University
  • Kenny Diggs, Assistant Political Director, AFSCME
  • Jose Garcia, Future of Work(ers) Program Officer, Ford Foundation
  • Mark Harris, Program Officer, JPB Foundation
  • Dr. Carol Lautier, Senior Partnership Manager, Inclusive Democracy Project at DEMOS
  • Appollos Baker, Legislative and Political Department, American Federation of Government Employees
  • Vonda McDaniel, President, Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
  • Shannan Reaze, Executive Director, Atlanta Jobs With Justice
  • Kenneth Rigmaiden, President, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • Patrick Scott, Director, AFL-CIO Organizing Institute
  • Dr. William Spriggs, Professor of Economics at Howard University and Chief Economist, AFL-CIO
  • John Taylor, National Field Director of Property Services Division, SEIU
  • Tanya Wallace-Gobern, Executive Director, National Black Worker Center Project
  • Naomi Walker, Director, Economic Analysis and Research Network (EARN)
  • Dr. Naomi R Williams, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations
  • Dr. Valerie Wilson, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, Economic Policy Institute

Institutions listed for affiliation purposes only

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