This week is one of extremes. One day we're honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by serving our communities, and just a few days later we'll be watching the inauguration of a president many fear will attempt to unravel much of the progress we have made. But that's America — a land of contradictions and conflict, where, time and again, we have won against prejudice and bigotry. We're going to keep winning. How do I know that? Just take a look at all the ways people are organizing this week.
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All Month Long:
Everywhere: Prepare for the future.
If you're worried about how to protect everyone's rights over the next few years, the first thing you can do is double down on support for organizations that are cornerstones of civil liberties. These groups fight for our freedoms at all levels of government and in our courts. Their work can only get done with help from people like you, who volunteer, give, and take on leadership roles.
The ACLU works to protect you from discrimination under the constitution. You can support them by answering calls to action or making a donation. Check out your local ACLU office for ways to get involved in causes close to home (just scroll down on the homepage to find an ACLU affiliate in your state).
The Southern Poverty Law Center fights bigotry through research, education, and litigation. They also track the activities of hate groups while helping communities advocate for justice. You can donate to the SPLC, but also make sure to utilize their resources. These help spread important information about identifying discrimination and when and how to report hate groups.
The NAACP is perhaps the most well-known civil rights organization today. For 107 years, it has worked for racial justice through the power of its active members in every state. So find your local chapter, become a member, or at least make a donation.
The Human Rights Campaign remains on the forefront of LGBTQ rights in America. We know all too well that marriage equality did not end the oppression of queer people. You can keep the momentum going by volunteering for a chapter of HRC in your area or contributing a little cash.
The Transgender Law Center is out there defending people's legal rights regardless of their gender identity. The organization also offers information about legal concerns that trans and gender-nonconforming people may have, like updating documentation and existing non-discrimination protections. Donations from folks like you keep them going.
These are only a few of the organizations working nationwide to move us along the arc of progress. Right now, it's important that we pool our resources and get in where we can to keep our country moving forward on these issues.
We've got a perfect storm of protests happening across the country for Inauguration Day: an MLK Day civil rights action forum in Providence, Rhode Island, and a benefit for Equality NC in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Monday, January 16
Everywhere: Serve your community in honor of MLK.
It's tradition for people to come together for community service on Martin Luther King Day. You can volunteer with a local organization, clean up litter, or go disrupt the status quo of oppression. You know — whatever you've got time for if it's your day off. To find lots of different volunteer opportunities near you, check out NationalService.org's MLK Day page.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Join the Philly MLK Day of Action, Resistance, and Empowerment March for a Better America.
11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 524 Market St., Philadelphia, PA 19106
Philadelphia's MLK D.A.R.E. March is part of the #ReclaimMLK movement to honor the legacy of civil rights through organized protest. The march will go through downtown Philadelphia and is meant to stand up for justice and oppose the rise of an oppressive right-wing ideology. The organizers are hosting a nonviolent direct-action training over the weekend, which folks are encouraged to attend. This group plans to do much more than march in the coming months, so be sure to keep up with them.
If you're down with the idea of organized resistance, follow #ReclaimMLK2017 on Twitter to find calls to action near you. You can also refer to the Movement for Black Lives' “Resist & Reclaim” map of events for next week.
Providence, Rhode Island: Get informed and get involved at the MLK Day Action Forum.
12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m., Mathewson Street Church, 134 Mathewson St., Fellowship Hall, Providence, RI 02903
The Rhode Island Civil Rights Roundtable is bringing together a panel of advocates to discuss the policy issues they plan to focus on in 2017. Attendees will learn how to be a part of the work for criminal justice reform, hate crime legislation, health care advocacy, and so much more. Part of the event will be dedicated to building up allyship, too. Registration is free. Sign up and plug in to social justice!
Friday, January 20
Raleigh, North Carolina: Fuel the future of equality at Feed Your Fire.
7 p.m. – 9 p.m., Trophy Brewing & Taproom, 656 Maywood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27603
Equality NC is still fighting for the rights of LGBTQ people and working against the infamous HB2, and you can help them out by attending this fundraiser. On top of the food and drinks, they'll be serving up some local speakers to get you fired up for the cause. A silent auction will feature items from local artisans and businesses with the proceeds going to Equality NC. Tickets start at a $15 donation, but feel free to give more if you can. Here's your chance to eat, drink, and make North Carolina a better place to live.
Multiple cities: Laugh until it hurts at What a Joke Fest.
Various times and locations
On Inauguration Day, comedians in 34 cities will be raising money for the ACLU. Check the What a Joke website for venue and ticket information in each city. You can also buy a What a Joke hat to show your support, which is remarkably similar to a certain red baseball cap we know all too well. Proceeds from tickets and a portion of hat sales will go to the ACLU. Why not have a few laughs? Lord knows we need it right now.
Multiple Cities: Hear how the election has impacted people at The Election Monologues.
Various times and locations
We need to understand how Trump's election is affecting all of us. To facilitate that, Tanya Taylor Rubinstein and Kerri Lowe of the Global School of Story have organized these events of storytelling and compassion. In each city, people will be sharing personal monologues from diverse perspectives. It doesn't matter where you fall on the political spectrum; this event is intended to be an inclusive space where we can all be open, honest, and safe. Ticket sales will go to support different local causes in each city. Check out the website for event info and take the time to listen to each other.
Everywhere: Get with the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL).
I've featured M4BL before in the forecast, so let me elaborate on why it's so critical for all of us to take a good look at the work they are doing. For one thing, the M4BL policy platform is the most inclusive and comprehensive plan for policy change out there — period. When M4BL calls on us to save and enrich black lives, that call is broader than many would believe. It embraces struggles across faith, sexuality, gender, ability, class, geography, color, nationality, citizenship, and more. The movement challenges us to be leaders, co-conspirators, and active members of our communities. We are compelled to work and build for each other.
Each of us comes with our own mixture of privilege and struggle, but working together is the only way we can win. Regardless of whether you're a seasoned organizer or just now opening your eyes to the struggle, this is a great place to begin planning for the road ahead. And if you're still skeptical about this kind of organizing, I encourage you to seriously listen to folks in this movement before you pass judgment. You might learn some things.
M4BL and its affiliates have big plans for the future on top of all the actions between MLK Day and Inauguration Day next week. Sign up at the bottom of the website to keep up with actions and campaigns.
As we remember Dr. King and witness the rise of President Trump, know that you can be a part of progress. You can, at the very least, not stand in the way. Whether that means bringing out the sun or calling down a storm, we need you! Now more than ever.
This post originally listed the Feed Your Fire event as taking place in Portland, Oregon. It has been updated to correct the location to Raleigh, North Carolina.