Stop Cop City Week of Action Press Notice

On March 7th at 8 ET, Showing Up for Racial Justice will host a webinar, “The Movement to Stop Cop City: a solidarity call for people across the country” to hear from frontline organizers in Atlanta and Memphis and find out how to take action to support their work.

This webinar is part of the National Week of Action and precedes the National Day of Action Against Police Terror on March 9th, which is co-sponsored by our national partners at the Movement for Black Lives. 

SURJ has been part of the campaign to Stop Cop City. A resident of the neighborhood surrounding Cop City has filed a claim against the city as the project violates the Clean Water Act. Governor Kemp and the Georgia Legislature are backing legislation to charge protesters with outrageously trumped-up charges, undermining, a foundational right within a democratic nation. 

“This is a fight at the intersections of climate justice, privatization, racial justice and abolition in Atlanta. We’ve built support for the campaign in majority-white communities who are usually silent or antagonistic towards divestment campaigns knowing white people have everything to gain from joining fights for justice, and this fight is no different.” – Erin Heaney, Executive Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice

For more information contact:

Grover Wehman-Brown
Deputy Director of Communications, Showing Up for Racial Justice

Stop Cop City Week of Action Press Notice Read More »

For Immediate Release: connecting across difference, finding shared values key to success in defeating Kentucky’s anti-abortion Amendment 2.

November 8, 2022 [10:31 PM] Louisville, Kentucky – On November 8th, Kentuckians voted to reject the anti-abortion Amendment 2, which would have enshrined a total abortion ban into Kentucky’s constitution. Showing Up for Racial Justice engaged voters, most of whom are white,  in Jefferson, Boyd, Letcher, Daviess, Warren, Hardin, Madison, Estill, Madison, Powell counties as part of a powerful multi-racial coalition across the state with Protect Kentucky Access. Hundreds of SURJ’s members from across the US and leaders on the ground in Jefferson and Boyd counties made more than 110,000 calls into KY and held more than 20,000 conversations with voters – many of which were surprisingly intimate and vulnerable, especially for a so-called “wedge issue.”

Our highly-skilled callers moved a full 25% of people they talked to into the No on 2 position through our “shared stake” model of persuasion, in which our members are trained to connect deeply over the phone and across difference about their experiences and what they stand to gain in protecting access to abortion 

“So many people told us we couldn’t, but like Kansas, we proved that it’s possible in a so-called ‘red state.’ This win shows that working class organizers are an unstoppable force when we put our minds to something, come together across lines of race and class, and have real conversations with Kentuckians that start with care and curiosity and hone in on our shared values.” – Beth Howard, Appalachia Organizing Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice

“There are not enough words to explain how invaluable SURJ’s partnership was during the fight to defeat Amendment 2 in Kentucky. From day 1 SURJ was asking how they could best help and fit into the campaign plan, and when they stepped up to own something — they OWNED it. We wouldn’t have reached nearly the amount of voters we did if it were not for SURJ, whose members made more than 110,000 calls into KY.” – Kelsey Coots, Field Director  Protect Kentucky Access 

“Kentucky is a state that is 86% white. We know to win multi-racial campaigns in Kentucky, we have to have the support of white people, and this win shows that when we engage white people in deep, meaningful ways, they can come with us. We’ve seen that in our work across the country and it’s an example of the kind of good, deep organizing we need at a much broader scale to stop the MAGA right’s attempts at authoritarianism.” – Erin Heaney, Executive Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice
Contact: Grover Wehman-Brown, Deputy Director of Communications, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)  p: (919) 949-2038 | e:

For Immediate Release: connecting across difference, finding shared values key to success in defeating Kentucky’s anti-abortion Amendment 2. Read More »

For immediate release: Judges endorsed by campaign to end cash bail win in Jefferson County, KY

November 9, 2022 [11:15 PM] Louisville, Kentucky – On November 8th, Jefferson County voters elected seven Judges from the slate of candidates Louisville SURJ endorsed as the best choice to serve on the District Court, Circuit Court, and Court of Appeals. Tracy Yvette Davis beat Judge Mary Shaw, who authorized the no-knock warrant that the police who killed Breonna Taylor used to enter her apartment legally. Louisville SURJ selected these candidates for our slate of endorsements after hundreds of hours of court watching, where we tracked Judges’ use of cash bail, noting trends in how judges set bail based on  race, charges, and type of representation. 

Over 100 volunteers with Louisville SURJ contacted over 2,500 residents and distributed 2,500+ copies of the Judge endorsement slate. Louisville SURJ has been working for years to end the practice of cash bail, which holds people who have not been convicted of a crime in cages because they do not have the ability to pay. Eleven people have died in Louisville’s jail in the past year. 

“Tonight was the biggest inflection point in our campaign to end cash bail. For years we have knocked the doors of voters and observed judges in the courtroom. With every circuit and district judge on the ballot we saw an opportunity to make an immediate impact on the issue. We complimented our court watch program with interviews and questionnaires and endorsed a slate of judges who could make a substantive and immediate change in the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to be brought into our injustice system. With tonight’s results less people will go to jail on an unaffordable bail, less will experience the cruel, inhumane, and deadly treatment of that jail, and another step towards the abolition of wealth based detention was taken.” – Alex Flood, Kentucky Lead Organizer, Showing Up for Racial Justice

“In these times when the far right is trying to convince white working class people to align with those at the top instead of Black and Brown communities, we were able to get people to see we need judges who will center equity, transparency and bail reform.This is the biggest effort to elect judicial candidates committed to reform in Jefferson County in my lifetime. And over half of our candidates won. In a particularly critical win, Black working class progressive Tracy Davis, beat the incumbent judge who signed the No Knock Warrant that led to Breonna Taylor’s death.

With the lead of Louisville’s Black community, LSURJ was able to provide a margin of victory through reaching white working class voters for Davis.” – Carla Wallace, SURJ Co-Founder, member of Louisville SURJ

For immediate release: Judges endorsed by campaign to end cash bail win in Jefferson County, KY Read More »

Graphic says "rethinking thanksgiving: from land acknowledgement to land back" and shows photos of the speakers. There is a graphic of a mountain with a sun behind it.

Rethinking Thanksgiving: From Land Acknowledgement to LAND BACK

Indigenous solidarity is an essential part of the struggle for racial and environmental justice. It is critical that we deepen our commitment to Indigenous Sovereignty in ourselves and in our movements, take collective action towards land rematriation and support efforts to ensure a just and sustainable existence for all of our future generations.

Join Tonatierra, NDN Collective, Sogorea Te’ Land Trust and the Indigenous Solidarity Network (Catalyst Project, SURJ, Resource Generation) for “Rethinking Thanksgiving: From Land Acknowledgement to LANDBACK.” This webinar is an invitation to interrogate so-called Thanksgiving, and move beyond the myths of America’s history with Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

From tar sands pipelines across Turtle Island to Arctic oil and gas drilling, Indigenous campaigns of resistance continue to lead the way in protecting future generations against the destruction of sacred lands and waterways.

Moving into a deeper understanding of how colonialism is embedded into our frameworks and systems builds our capacity to be better allies to Indigenous Peoples. In this webinar, we will hear from the frontlines of Indigenous efforts to resist violence and colonization fueled by the current extractive economic system and gather ways to further and deepen solidarity with Indigenous resistance centering land rematriation.

Please make a donation here. The money will be divided equally between Sogorea Te Land Trust, Tonatierra and American Indian Law Alliance.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Rethinking Thanksgiving: From Land Acknowledgement to LAND BACK Read More »

graphic reads "show up for the georgia runoff: join us to bring white people in." It also shows two white people talking.

Take Action in the 2022 Georgia Runoff

Once again, all eyes are in Georgia. After a near-tie between Senator Warnock and Herschel Walker in the General Election, SURJ is mobilizing for a win in the Georgia Runoff. SURJ members showed up to do our part in defeating Trump in Georgia in 2020 AND electing Senator Warnock in the 2021 runoff. With our growing movement, we can continue to defeat the MAGA Right in Georgia!

​​​​​​​Sign up to take action here.​

White people have so much to gain– so much shared interest– in supporting progressive platforms like the one Senator Warnock stands for. Our people of color-led partner orgs are working to mobilize their folks, and we know that when we do our part to make sure white people join them, huge wins are possible. We don’t need all the white people, but we need enough of them.

Can’t take action? Donate to SURJ to support our work in the run offs!

No matter whether you’ve been riding with SURJ for decades or you’ve never done anything like this before, we want you on our team. SURJ phonebanks and textbanks are effective and community-building actions where we gather on Zoom, support each other in calling hundreds of voters, and celebrate together. We’ll give you everything you need to get trained up and ready to have meaningful conversations with voters. 

If you’re ready to stop agonizing and distancing yourself from other white people and ready to step into action to organize, build power, and bring more white people into fights for progressive gains this year and for years to come, JOIN US. We can do this. 

Take Action in the 2022 Georgia Runoff Read More »

As deaths mount, officials are laying the groundwork for replacing the Louisville jail

Louisville jail leaders and city officials have quietly kickstarted conversations about replacing the facility, a proposal that has a potentially hefty price tag for taxpayers.

The push for a new jail comes amid an ongoing crisis: Ten people have died in custody since last November.

Kungu Njuguna, the ACLU’s policy strategist, said utilizing alternatives to incarceration and lowering the jail’s population could help alleviate some of the issues.

“While you want to talk about building a building, we want to talk about helping people and making sure they’re not even getting there so you don’t need this building,” he said.

Jail leaders often ask for more funding by talking about LMDC being the largest drug detox and mental health facility in Jefferson County. But Njuguna said he would rather see $300 million go to organizations providing those services without locking people away.

“Just as easy as it is for an individual to get a jail cell, we should have a bed in this community for people who are having mental health issues or substance use disorder,” he said. “That would make a substantial change, as opposed to building a big, huge cage.”

Carla Wallace, co-founder of the group Showing Up for Racial Justice, echoed many of Njunguna’s concerns. In recent years, her group has gone door-to-door in communities across Louisville advocating for ending cash bail and most pre-trial detention.

With the Louisville jail in crisis, advocates are pushing harder for bail reform
Wallace said, in all of those conversations, no one has ever talked about wanting a larger jail.

“There’s affordable housing needs, there are youth programming needs, mental health needs, you know, so many other things,” she said.

Wallace accuses jail leaders and city officials of attempting to shift blame for the spate of in-custody deaths and drug overdoses onto the outdated facility instead of taking responsibility. She said the only people who would benefit from building a new jail, rather than investing in alternatives, are developers and politicians.

“It’s a huge, massive construction project and somebody gets that money, right?” Wallace said. “That’s very popular, politically. Everybody wants a big project, including the developers.”

To read the whole article at WFPL, click here.

As deaths mount, officials are laying the groundwork for replacing the Louisville jail Read More »

Erin Heaney joins W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz on Instagram Live

Watch Erin Heaney, SURJ National Director, and W. Kamau and Kate Schatz – authors of newly released DO THE WORK!: An Antiracist Activity Book – discuss taking action for racial justice on Instagram Live.

Kamau brings his professional experience as a stand-up comic, TV host, writer, and cultural critic,and his personal experience as a Black man and father. Kate brings her professional experiences as a bestselling author, historian, and high school teacher, along with her personal experiences as a white queer mom and longtime feminist activist. Erin Heaney will share from a decade of organizing white people for racial justice as the Executive Director of SURJ.

Erin Heaney joins W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz on Instagram Live Read More »

Image shows a white political candidate speaking at a podium in front of a large crowd holding trump signs

Buffalo: Was Paladino’s primary loss a rejection of extremism? Erin Heaney weighs in.

Carl Paladino entered the Republican primary for New York’s 23rd Congressional District with a history of extreme statements, and the Buffalo real estate developer lived up to that reputation once the race started.

His campaign was marred by headlines about a 2021 WBEN interview in which he praised Adolf Hitler’s leadership, the sharing of a Facebook post associating the May 14 racist mass shooting at Tops with false flag operations, and a Breitbart radio show appearance in which he said U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland should be executed for raiding Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Erin Heaney is executive director of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national organization with a Buffalo chapter that mobilizes white people against racism.

Heaney was part of a broad coalition that successfully fought to get Paladino removed from the Buffalo school board in 2017, following racist comments in which he compared then-First Lady Michelle Obama to a gorilla.

So, for Heaney, watching Paladino get out to an early lead on primary night thanks in large part to the Buffalo suburbs of Erie County was “extremely disappointing.” Paladino’s nearly 32-point win in Erie County was then evaporated via Langworthy winning all six of the district’s Southern Tier counties.

“I think there can be a tendency to blame or look down on rural communities as a place where the most racism exists. It’s just not true,” Heaney said.

Heaney said the fact Erie County leans Democrat doesn’t mean it doesn’t have problems with racism. She noted the county consistently elects Republican sheriffs “running on divide and conquer and law and order” despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by over 130,000.

“We like to think of ourselves as a progressive region, but what we’ve seen time and time again is that racism and white supremacy are alive and well in Erie County,” Heaney said. “And I think Carl’s success here is an indication of that.

“So I think those of us in Erie County have some real reckoning to do around racism in this county and a lot of work ahead of us.”

Read or listen to the entire story here at WBFO.

Buffalo: Was Paladino’s primary loss a rejection of extremism? Erin Heaney weighs in. Read More »

Graphic shows white text on a black background that reads "block, build, grow."

Midterm Campaign: BLOCK, BUILD, GROW

At a time of rising authoritarianism and increased attempts to undermine our democratic systems, Showing Up For Racial Justice announces our Midterm Election 2022 program, BLOCK, BUILD, GROW.

Our 2022 Midterm program is designed to to BLOCK white supremacist organizing, BUILD progressive political power in key southern and midwestern states, and GROW our collective base of anti-racist white people trained in using electoral work as a tool to bring millions of white people alongside communities of color to win progressive power.

Erin Heaney, National Director for Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) said, “We’re going to be hearing a lot of pundits say that Democrats shouldn’t talk about race in the Midterms because it’s a losing strategy. But you know who will continue to talk to poor and working class white people about race? Tucker Carlson. Steve Bannon. White nationalists on YouTube. It’s our job to engage white people, many of whom could go either way or sit elections out entirely, about what they have to gain by voting for leaders ready to govern with respect for all people.”

In GEORGIA we will build off our 2020 program, when members contacted nearly 2 million white voters in the General and 20201 Senate run-off elections. We join our partners at New Georgia Project and CASA to knock doors, text, and call voters in Henry and Clayton Counties south of Atlanta to Re-elect Senator Rafael Warnock, elect Stacey Abrams as Governor, and elect Bee Nguyn for Secretary of State, a position that will be critical to defeat potential threats to undermining our electoral system.

We will also be working to elect Demetrius Rucker in Housing District 117 in Henry County, which was recently redistricted. We’ll be focusing on working-class white voters residing in Locus Grove and McDonnough, where the majority of the electorate resides. Working people, whether white, Black, or brown, all want similar things – and we know we need candidates who fight for all of us instead of dividing us.

In KENTUCKY we will support Louisville SURJ’s work to end cash bail in the city by electing progressive judges that understand people should be home, connected to their community, not in cages waiting for a trial simply because they don’t have enough money for bail. We will build off our rural base building project in Eastern Kentucky to organize working-class white people’s support for Charles Booker in Eastern KY and across the state.

“We Continue to Focus on the South – not because it’s the most racist place, but because it’s where the Right has invested political power building for decades – and white people in Appalachia and eastern Kentucky have the most to gain by joining our movements alongside working-class communities of color to fight for racial and economic justice.” – Beth Howard, Rural Kentucky Campaign Director, Showing Up for Racial Justice

In OHIO SURJ Ohio will organize opposition to Trump’s pick for the Senate, JD Vance, who is the millionaire author of Hillbilly Elegy. Our members in the rural, harm reduction-focused organizing project in Appalachian Ohio, Nelsonville Voices, are ready to organize to block support for this far right-candidate in their community. They will amplify to the rest of Ohioans that the real values of Appalachia are multiracial solidarity and collective care, and Ohio’s Senate representative should advance those values.

Midterm Campaign: BLOCK, BUILD, GROW Read More »

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SURJ ED Erin Heaney is an Atlantic Fellow

We are thrilled to announce that SURJ Executive Director Erin Heaney was awarded the prestigious Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equality, joining an impressive community and alumni network of global leaders in anti-racism work. For the next 18 months, she’ll be working with a cohort from the United States and South Africa to develop strategies for fighting anti-Black racism and building a better future for all of us. 

We need white leaders who are clear-eyed about the stakes of this moment– and who have a sharp strategy about how we rise to the urgency of these times while building movements for the long-haul. 

As a national leader in organizing white communities for racial and economic justice, Erin brings a robust vision of white folks’ role in our shared movements to the cohort.

And follow Erin’s journey in the cohort at @erin_heaney on Twitter. 

SURJ ED Erin Heaney is an Atlantic Fellow Read More »

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