North Carolina’s Forward Together Moral Monday Movement – “We Are a Movement, Not a Moment”

This article was originally published for The Retiree Advocate at in September 2017.

In September, my wife, Diane, and I traveled to North Carolina to meet with leaders of the “Moral Monday Movement.” We met with Rev. Curtis Gatewood of the state’s NAACP, James Andrew, President of the state AFL-CIO, and Rev. George Reed and Aleta Payne, two top leaders of the North Carolina Council of Churches. We wanted to learn about their broad movement that brought upwards of 80,000 to the steps of their state Capitol in February, the largest progressive rally in the South since 1965. They were demanding economic justice; labor rights; education equality; health care for all; environmental justice; equal protection under the law without regard to race, creed, class, gender, sexual orientation or immigration status; expansion of voting rights; and more. Why the mass organizing? Continue reading “North Carolina’s Forward Together Moral Monday Movement – “We Are a Movement, Not a Moment””

Welcome to my website

My life is dedicated to building greater economic, social and racial justice and peace at home and around the world. My work and website are intended to help advance these goals. I welcome your comments and criticisms to help make my work more effective.

In past 4 years, I have spoken to more than 13,400 people in 210 speeches, presentations and workshops in Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, British Columbia, Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida. My work is focused on inspiring, educating and encouraging people to get organized, stand up and move our country toward a brighter, more just and secure future for everyone. The audiences include unions, labor organizations, congregations, faith-based organizations, seniors, human services providers, immigrant rights activists, students, community groups and homeless advocates.

I have developed five interactive popular education workshops for leaders, staff activists and other entitled:

  • Making the American Dream Real for Everyone
  • Winning Big in Hard Times: Learning from Our Ancestors
  • Which Side of History Are You On?
  • Speaking from the Heart and Winning Community Allies
  • Train the Trainer

These workshops give participants a strategic and critically needed deeper understanding of how our ancestors built the American Dream by organizing a powerful labor movement, creating broader coalition movements and expanding our democracy. Restoring hope in our ability to take our country back is an important element of our work. Inspiring, motivating and educating participants about how our ancestors overcame tremendous obstacles to build the American Dream is foundational. If they could build the Dream, we can rebuild and expand it. We must also understand how Corporate America developed and implemented a decades-long strategy to roll back our movement and allies to create a new era of every growing economic and political inequality and injustice.

These workshops create the opportunities to do the following:

  1. Inspire participants with renewed hope that, like our ancestors, we can take our country back and create a better future.
  2. Deepen our understanding of Corporate America’s decades-long assault on our way of life and democracy.
  3. Teach participants important lessons from these long-term victories and defeats that will make them more effective leaders in rebuilding the labor movement and creating more effective and stronger labor/community alliances needed to take our country back.
  4. Explore key issues of how we can develop deeper ties with critically needed community allies for the economic and political fights ahead.
  5. Work on key questions like: “Which community partners would want to ally with us? Why would they want to ally with us? What messages and acts of solidarity should we bring to these efforts?

All three workshops combine using personal stories and experiences and finding our common ground of economic hard times, a deep concern about the future and a shared American Dream. Personal and family stories are woven into the fabric of the history of economic, political and social struggles as the foundation of learning critical lessons about how we move forward to change the course of our country.

The “American Dream” workshop focuses on the rise and fall of unions, working people and our allies over the past 125 years in our economic life. The “Winning Big in Hard Times” workshop explores the rise and fall of unions, working people and our allies in our democracy over the same time period. These stories and lessons are connected but it is important to explore them separately in some detail. The “Which Side of History Are You On?” workshop goes in greater detail of how Corporate America counterattacked in the 1970’s and 1980’s and effectively exploited the disunity between organized labor and many potential community allies and movements to reassert their domination.

Another major part of my work has been helping organizations develop their own economic and social justice education and training materials that they can use independently of my efforts. These organizations include:

  • IBEW Washington and Oregon State Associations
  • Seattle King County Building and Construction Trades Council
  • Washington Fair Trade Coalition
  • Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders
  • Working Washington
  • Washington State Faith Action Network
  • Church Council of Greater Seattle
  • Seattle Human Services Coalition
  • Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action
  • 21 Progress
  • Casa Latina

You may wonder why I am doing this educational work and trying to build a broader economic justice movement? Part of my motivation is based on how little working people and our allies understand the role that their ancestors, individually and collectively, played in creating greater economic and social justice and broadening our democracy. Many workshop participants acknowledge that their public school educations largely ignored the critical role played by their ancestors in these great victories.

To quote George Santayana:

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.”

Working people today have been systematically denied a deep understanding of the potential power that they possess based on the history of their ancestors and people like them. Those victories helped created a country with greater opportunity and security for many of them to pursue their dreams and offer a brighter future to their children. At the same time, our American Dream has not been realized by millions who were denied real access to real economic opportunities and security due to racism, sexism, union-bashing, homophobia, anti-immigrant bigotry, other forms of intolerance and discrimination and systematic corporate attacks against our economic and political interests.

The great lesson of our collective history is that working people and their allies can win a long struggle to make the American Dream real for more people. We must be guided by a deeply held vision, core values of fairness, justice and unity, and a comprehensive agenda and strategy that can unite our diverse nation. When we are disunited, we will not move forward. When we are united, we can move forward.
Again please use any of the materials on the website to move forward our collective efforts to create a more just, secure and hopeful future for all people.
Please let me know what you think of these materials and any suggestions you have for improvements and additions.

Many of you have asked for copies of my PowerPoints, videos and other materials and resources they can use. This website is a direct response to your ongoing requests. It provides multiple PowerPoint presentations and videos, articles that I have written, and websites and written materials that you might find helpful. Some of the materials are focused on secular audiences and others on faith-based audiences.