a backdrop of racial violence and social turmoil, more than 1,500
community organizers gathered in Pittsburgh to map out a grassroots
progressive organizing strategy.
It was the first step by the Center for Popular Democracy, a progressive organization that is trying to fill the vacuum left in the wake of ACORN’s demise in 2010.
“We wanted to make it both a statement in the electoral moment and really a statement that transcends the electoral moment,” Brian Kettenring, co-director of the Center for Popular Democracy, told the Prospect at the convention. “We’re trying to stand in this particular moment but also not be captive to the narrow partisan politics of our country.”
The convention started off with a march of more than 1,000 activists through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, including stops outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to demand fair wages for workers; the Pittsburgh Federal Reserve to call for equitable economic policies for working families; and Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s office to protest his anti-immigration stances...
The following day, activists heard speeches from heavyweights of the progressive movement like Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison and the Reverend William Barber III, leader of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays movement, who both spoke powerfully about the recent killings and the need for a unified response.
Community organizations lost much of their national clout in the wake of ACORN’s demise, which was brought about in 2009 by a conservative smear campaign. CPD’s goal now—and that of the organizations represented at the conference—is to rebuild such groups’ institutional power and make it a critical part of the broader progressive movement. More