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The POWER of movements

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Social Justice & Community Organizing

 "If there's one thing I learned at Foresight Prep, it's that I can create change despite my age." —2016 participant

U.S. political history contains very few examples of transformative change not precipitated by an acute crisis (e.g. 9/11, Pearl Harbor). But the most notable exceptions—the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990—were all the result of mass mobilizations, movements led by groups of marginalized people who organized to address the chronic crises affecting their communities.

We are in the midst of troubling times, with powerful forces pushing back against progress we’ve made toward social justice. But “people power” remains one of the most effective tools for change. From Black Lives Matter to Occupy Wall Street and the Fight for Fifteen, recent social justice movements have reshaped public discourse, and mobilized large groups of people—including many youth—to work for change. Simultaneously, as evidenced in forums like Tumblr and Twitter, more young people are analyzing their own experiences of privilege and oppression, and questioning how best to act upon this consciousness. 

The seminar will address how social movements are defined, the role they play in shaping history, and the relationship between these movements and students' own identities and experiences of power, privilege and oppression. A range of issues and organizing approaches will be examined—such as membership-based worker organizations, neighborhood-based community organizing, youth-driven campaigns, and others. Students will learn techniques for developing the social and emotional resilience required to commit to this work over the long haul. Finally, by engaging with on-the-ground activists, and learning from their insights, students will draw their own conclusions about what strategies are most effective for building power and transforming systems—and what contribution they intend to make in the future.

Lead Instructor: Tim Jones-Yelvington

Tim Jones-Yelvington's commitment to social movements began at a very young age, as the product of an awesome single mother who helped him understand what it meant to be accountable for his privileges, and later, as stepson of a United Methodist pastor with decades of experience in racial justice work. His mom also taught him that young people are the leaders of today, not tomorrow. He has carried this lesson with him throughout his life, into his current work helping young people to claim their power to create change. 

Tim worked for five years as program staff at Crossroads Fund, a public foundation supporting grassroots social, racial and economic justice organizations in the Chicago area. His position included managing a portfolio of grantees and helping to coordinate a community-led grantmaking process. He worked closely with the staff and leaders of new and emerging organizations focused on a range of intersecting issues, including the criminal justice/prison system; education; housing; immigration; worker, women's and LGBT rights, and others. While at the foundation, Tim developed a tool to evaluate grantees' social change impact within the context of broader movement building efforts. He received his undergraduate degree in Women's and Gender Studies from DePaul University, where his undergraduate thesis focused on the formation of collective identity in LGBT organizations focused on racial and economic justice. He recently completed a Masters of Education in Youth Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Additional professional development experiences have included participating in the Rev Up training for youth organizers at the Chicago Freedom School.