By Cris Batista | Apr 10, 2023

The Awe Inspiring Working-Class & Latinx Power of North Philly

In March, Mijente Support Committee (MSC) held a 2-day organizing session with Latinx community members in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, similar to the one we held in Laredo, Texas last summer. Our goal with this organizing training is bringing people to a shared understanding on what base building is, Mijente’s approach to organizing, and how we build power.  

We were encouraged to see that some of the canvassers that we trained in November for our midterm elections voter outreach, returned this month to continue building their skills as organizers. Even with new participants, there was a feeling of openness and warmth familiar to other Latinx organizing spaces we’ve been part of. It was a reminder that we’re not alone in this movement, and of how much stronger we are when we come together.

Sessions & Participants 

There were 15 participants that joined the training including Gen-Z youth, working class folks, and a lot of mothers. Many of them from Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, and had joined MSC’s Philly voter mobilization canvassing in November as their first time engaging in organizing action. It was inspiring to see so many everyday people willing to fight for change in their neighborhoods and communities.

During the training we trained folks on the fundamentals of organizing and base building. We also led sessions around having one-on-one organizing conversations, building community, steps to making an ask, identifying short term goals, and how to tell your story. 

Diving Deep into the Issues

We had open and vulnerable conversations about the issues folks are facing in Philly. Many of the members of our training identified gun violence and drug addiction as long term problems that affect their communities. We also talked about identifying short term, winnable issues to build campaigns around to further build the base of engaged community members and affect change. For this, folks identified the cleanliness of their neighborhoods as something they’d like to see addressed. Right now, there’s excess trash and waste in the streets and sidewalks, highlighting a lack of investment in their neighborhoods. 

Investing in Future Organizers

Another way that MSC is investing in the organizing infrastructure of Philly is by recruiting and training local leaders and new organizers through our 2023 Organizing Fellowship. The fellowship will recruit, train & mentor the new generation of Latinx organizers to support our base building and organizing in Laredo, Philly, Chicago, Boston, and other priority locations.

For Philly, we are excited to add community leaders Tanairi Figueroa and Frank Fuentes to our 2023 Organizing Fellowship cohort.  

What We Learned 

  1. We learned about the resilience and the passion of the Philly Latinx community. In the face of all the issues they named, balancing work, supporting their families (and so much more) these participants were ready to make real change for their families and neighborhood. They aren’t willing to accept the status quo and the continued neglect of our community. 
  1. Our movement can only win if we can make it as inclusive as possible, and that means training and organizing everyday folks who have the passion but need the tools to create transformative change. The participants showed a deep understanding and skill around relationship building and leader identification. Our training served to focus the participants on the goal of building power –  grounding them in how collective, community organizing can help win the changes our communities need when we work together. 

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