Ferguson: A Miscarriage of Justice and a Movement That Won't Give Up

by Marisa Franco, lead organizer of the #not1more campaign for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network
Originally posted on the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) website

"Last night completed a circle of tragedy and travesty.

Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown in broad daylight, but his protectors used the thick of night to announce their decision to not indict. While the St. Louis prosecutor’s explanation rang empty and hollow, the clamor for justice in the streets of Ferguson was once again clear, resounding, and this time nationwide.

Our hearts were already split last week by the President’s immigration announcement, now they would be fully broken if it were not for the freedom fighters of Ferguson.

We are outraged at the miscarriage of justice, but we are fortified by the proliferation of protest. From Ferguson to Ayotzinapa, people have reached their limit and are exposing governments that govern with violence. In every corner we see a system that continues to define it’s own shortcomings and movements with the potential to transform them.

For immigrant rights organizations, our struggles are connected but distinct. We know of unjust policing and federal deportation programs that have created chaos in all our neighborhoods. But we are not Mike Brown. Instead of reaching for unity by erasing difference, let us build it by bridging the divide between who is deserving and who is undeserving. Just days ago, President Obama announced relief for families, but not felons. But what are those terms in the context of Ferguson? When our communities are already deemed criminal? When the murdered are put on trial? And police forces like Ferguson’s are the arbiters of this ‘nation of laws?’ We refuse these dividing lines because, as Ferguson shows us, what is defined as criminal, who is guilty and innocent, often falls far short of what is just.

To the movement with Ferguson at its epicenter, we stand with you. We know what it is to have your tactics condemned, to be told to be patient, to be corralled into ‘official channels’ and we have learned that it is in breaking the rules that we change the rules. By so boldly stating that Black lives matter in the face of their negation you have already broken so many unspoken rules. We will echo your words. We will make your struggle our struggle but we will not make your struggle about us. We will dedicate ourselves to a fight against criminalization that uses Black lives as a laboratory. We will defy the character assassinations in our own community that render someone undeserving of our care or deserving of the violence of the state.

There is justified anger, there is frustration spilling out from our hearts onto the streets. Let that energy propel us to organizing that will push back on this criminalization that is killing our brothers and sisters, and holding us back from the life and future we all deserve.


February 28, 2020

NFG Newsletter - February 2020

February is Black History Month and, in this newsletter, NFG honors Black resistance. Given the persistence of structural racism and the legacies of segregation, NFG has mobilized philanthropy to support POC-led organizing for equitable development since our start 40 years ago. Through our member-led and local advisor-led programming, we are lifting up how Black communities are reclaiming land ownership and addressing the racial wealth gap through grassroots power building.

At the beginning of the month, NFG’s Amplify Fund staff and steering committee spent a day with local organizers, non-profit leaders, and organizations in Charleston and Edisto Island, South Carolina — one of Amplify’s eight sites. Both national and local grantmakers learned alongside some of Amplify’s grantees, including the Center for Heirs’ Property PreservationLow Country Alliance for Model CommunitiesCarolina Youth Action Project, and South Carolina Association for Community and Economic Development, which are bringing together Black, Latinx communities and youth in the region to fight for community power, land rights, and environmental justice in the face of corporate power, criminalization of communities of color due to gentrification, and land theft.

This week, NFG’s Democratizing Development Program (DDP) hosted a two-day Health, Housing, Race, Equity and Power Funders Convening in Oakland, California. Over 100 participants grappled with how anti-Blackness and xenophobia fuel the complex housing & health crisis and community trauma, and heard examples of concrete organizing wins led by Black women from Moms 4 Housing and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. Organizers from around the country urged grantmakers to significantly invest in long-term general operating support, community ownership models, POC leadership, and 501(c)4 funding for Black, Indigenous, and POC communities engaging in policy and systems change around housing affordability and justice. 

From Amplify’s funder collaborative to the DDP convening’s planning committee, funders organizing other funders has been a key part of our work. Funder members: how are you stepping up as an organizer and moving more resources for power building in Black, Indigenous, and POC communities? We invite you to connect with NFG staffprograms, and upcoming events — including our National Convening — and be part of our community where we bring funders together to learn, connect, and mobilize resources with an intersectional and place-based focus. 

The NFG team

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January 23, 2020

NFG Newsletter - January 2020

Animated fireworks with the text "40 Years Strong"

This year marks NFG's 40th anniversary. During our early years, NFG was one of the few spaces in philanthropy specifically focused on people of color-led, grassroots organizing, and power building as the key to effective social change strategies. Today, NFG continues to be many funders' political home at a time when moving resources to struggles for justice is critically important: communities of color are bearing the brunt of the housing crisis, growing wealth and income inequality, and climate change; white nationalist backlash is rising; and our democracy is profoundly threatened. NFG is a space to draw support, deepen relationships, and find co-conspirators as we propel philanthropy to shift power and money towards justice and equity.

In 2020, the NFG network is continuing to explore structural racism in health and housing, racial capitalism, migrant worker justice in rural areas, reimagining community safety and justice, and more. We will also return ‘home’ to NFG’s founding city — Washington, D.C. — for our 2020 National Convening.

As we celebrate 40 years, our dynamic community of grantmakers and grassroots leaders is what makes us strong. This newsletter spotlights The Libra Foundation, an NFG member that shares our commitment to organizing funders in moving more resources to frontline communities and movements.

Keep reading below for more opportunities to engage with NFG. Whether you are new to NFG or a long-time member, we look forward to collaborating with you to accelerate racial, gender, economic, and climate justice.
The NFG team

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