Civil-rights activists paved the way for us in 1964 when they created Freedom Summer, which led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act and laid the foundation for the electoral-justice and political-organizing efforts of progressive organizations today.
Freedom Summer focused on fighting Black voter suppression in Mississippi, the epicenter of rampant racist attempts to stop Black people from voting—but the ripple effects stretched far beyond the Mississippi Delta. Freedom Summer 2020 honors our rich legacy in Black power building through voter registration and political education.
Freedom Summer 2020 continues the fight for our dream and leverages our power to keep the momentum for change going into the November elections and until we are all free.
This summer, the Movement for Black Lives is training and developing nearly 200 organizers nationwide.
We lost beloved movement elder John Lewis, but we didn’t lose his guidance. The day of his funeral in July, the New York Times published a call to action he left for us, to continue our mandate to work for justice and Black liberation. A son of sharecroppers from Alabama, Uncle John was among the original Freedom Riders and helped organize the 1963 March on Washington. We are nothing without his legacy of fighting for electoral justice and building Black political power. He showed us how to let everlasting love be our guide. With Freedom Summer 2020, we honor the bold, unflinching vision of all of our ancestors.
We’re partnering with three anchor organizations all working to defund police and move forward on a number of police accountability campaigns.
BAN (Black Abolitionist Network):
We are working to defund the Chicago Police Department and train more than 1,000 people in the skills necessary to help lead the campaign. We will also provide mutual aid to our community.
EAT (Equity and Transformation):
We are working to build police accountability in the city of Joliet, right outside Chicago. We will continue to provide mutual aid to our community that has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We are also building a campaign to demand basic income for our people.
We are building a campaign to defund Cook County jail and the sheriff’s office. To drastically shift the size, scope, and power of the police, we need to broaden the number of people in our community working toward the same vision. We are working with faith leaders to deepen their understanding and commitment to abolition and defunding the police. We will also be working to support folks who are trying to end the contract with the police at Chicago State University.
We are the In Defense of Black Lives Coalition. We were born out of the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. We are working on defunding the police and moving $200 million from the police budget to services that allow people to thrive. We are building out people’s assemblies so community members can collectively identify what those investments need to be. All the while, we are bringing new people into the campaign.
We are a coalition building a campaign to invest in Black communities. Our fellows are working to lead a community review of policing along with the Mayor of Jackson’s police reform recommendations. We will convene a People’s Assembly around policing and defunding. We’re also hosting community conversations around the creation of a community oversight commission regarding public safety. We are organizing with community partners across the state around decarceration.
We are Black Lives Matter Louisville, and we’re working to get the University of Louisville to cut ties with the Louisville Police Department. In addition, our fellows will be working toward mobilizing youth to put pressure on City Council members to defund the police. We will also be doing a lot of political education with people in the community as we continue to demand justice for Breonna Taylor.
We are the Green Light Black Futures Coalition, and we are working to end the over-surveillance of Black communities in Detroit, including a new program that is surveilling the people 24/7. We see this as part of the fight to defund the police. Our fellows will also be engaging in political education, participating in actions, and doing community outreach.
We are the In Defense of Black Lives Coalition ATL. We are working to defund the Atlanta Police Department by moving $73 million out of the police and investing it in Black communities. We will hold town halls that will determine with community input how that money should be reinvested. We will gather 10,000 petitions in support of defunding the police; our goal is to train more than 400 people to build their skills to engage in the defund campaign.
We are partnering with two organizations in Miami that are working on defund campaigns.
The Black Collective:
We are organizing to deepen the relationships among Black people in Miami, including Black Haitians and Afro Latinx communities. We know that Black people across the spectrum bear the brunt of police violence and need to be organizing and building together. We will train 500 leaders and build a digital campaign that includes sending 15,000 text messages about our campaign to plug people into the work.
Our fellows will be working in different communities to shift school-district budgets to get police out of schools. A part of this work will be to demand more civic engagement in the governing processes. Right now, there aren’t even public-comment opportunities at school-board meetings. We intend to change that.
We are NC BLOC (Black Leadership and Organizing Collective). We are running a statewide campaign to build local power and defund the police. We have fellows across the state who will be working on these campaigns, as well as leading Get Out the Vote work, which will set us up for the fall.
“I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”
If you are called to join us, have an opportunity for aligned funding streams, or wish to make a personal gift, please contact email@example.com to connect.
The Movement for Black Lives is a fiscally sponsored 501c3 at The Common Counsel Foundation.