A group of graduate students at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government have created a “Resistance School” for training progressive activists to combat President Donald Trump’s agenda.
What started out as a few post-inauguration conversations between friends about Trump’s rise to power evolved into a four-week series of free political advocacy and grassroots mobilization workshops scheduled throughout April.
“We were trying to figure out what we wanted to do with the political energy and activism that we were seeing in this country,” said Shanoor Seervai, a second-year public policy student and one of the group’s 11 co-founders. “We sort of came up with doing something that was really focused on skill-based training to sustain our movement.”
Members of the Resistance School, which is entirely student-run and has no official affiliation with Harvard, have light-heartedly compared the group to “Dumbledore’s Army,” a reference to the “Harry Potter” series and its collective of wizarding students who meet in secret to practice fighting dark magic.
“It came up as a joke, and I think something about our logo feels Harry Potter-esque,” said Yasmin Radjy, another co-founder and second-year public policy student. “If it engages more people, we’re happy with it.”
At least 5,000 groups from six continents and all 50 states have signed up for Resistance School, according to the group’s Facebook page, which has amassed more than 4,500 followers.
Groups big and small, including 700 moms in Boise, Idaho, and the Boulder County Democratic Party in Colorado, have already registered. Radjy called growing interest in the Resistance School “unbelievable” and “exciting,” noting that the club originally expected just a couple hundred friends and families to sign up.
“Our bottom line is that we want as many people who are either new to the political process or have experience to get involved ― and not just in a behind their-computers-alone sort of way,” Radjy said. “We think that political action requires face-to-face conversation.”
Experts in public policy and advocacy, including former campaign staffers for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former President Barack Obama, will organize and participate in the sessions.
The first session, titled “How to Communicate our Values in Political Advocacy,” will be led by historian, author and Harvard public policy lecturer Timothy McCarthy and is planned for Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
“This past election was a wake-up call for policies that have been hurting families across this country for much longer and have been undermining progressive values for a long time at local and state levels,” Radjy said. “We want to keep the embers of the resistance alive.”