It was heartening to see Missouri's Attorney General finally take action by suing at least 13 municipalities due to their excessive court fees last week.
As the ACLU and the NAACP target the Ferguson Florissant school district to get more diverse representation on their school board, which is heavily white, we see progress on that front as well.
Gamaliel affiliate MCU and its allies are working to get County Executive-elect Steve Stenger to hold a county-wide summit of law enforcement officials and local mayors to promote community policing and an end to racial profiling and excessive court fees. So far, Stenger has agreed in principle to the summit, but a date has not been secured.
We believe it is essential to take a long hard look at what works in the long term in communities of color. In our more than 20 years of organizing, we have found that nothing works better than jobs at getting people off the street and putting money into low-income neighborhoods.
We must put in place criminal justice reforms, but we must put equal attention toward creating more and better jobs as a key long term solution. For that, we must continue our advocacy and organizing efforts.
What we found in our new study, "Jobs and More Jobs" was that in 2012 and 2013, among our 43 affiliates and across 16 states, the Gamaliel network won public policy campaign victories worth more than $13 billion, creating more than 450,000 jobs and generating more than a $17 billion increase in the gross domestic product. The victories ranged from transit access to criminal justice and even included food justice wins. The key takeaway of Jobs and More Jobs is this: organizing creates jobs.
Organizing creates the public space in which real people come together around a shared set of values to build powerful coalitions that improve the civil, social and economic conditions of their communities and it develops leaders who effectively wage and sustain long-term campaigns around the issues they face.
All community organizers have a similar impact -- not just Gamaliel. We urge our colleagues to assess their own impact. Center for Popular Democracy, DART, Casa de Maryland and others could post similar results.
In the end, we know what works post-Ferguson - jobs. We also know how to get there -- organizing. As Margaret Mead said; "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."
The 25 page study, called "Jobs and More Jobs," is available for download.