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 »

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 »

Monthly Action Hours

Looking for an easy way to plug into the work for justice and to gain community organizing skills? Our monthly action hours support the work of our partners to win racial and economic justice. Join us in monthly, one-hour gatherings where we will call, text, or email whomever we are pressuring that day. You’ll receive training and support throughout the session as well as a community of fellow SURJ members to take action with. Come on in!

Monthly Action Hours Read More »

Fight Like Hell for Kentucky

Fight Like Hell for Kentucky: our campaign to re-elect Governor Andy Beshear

SURJ has deep roots in Kentucky. Our founders are from the state and were mentored into the legacy of anti-racist white organizers by SNCC member and fellow Kentuckian, Anne Braden. For the last decade, our chapter in Louisville has been organizing white support for multi-racial coalition efforts to get cops of out of Louisville public schools, oust the judge who signed the no-knock warrant that resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor, and abolish cash bail in the city. Two years ago, we launched the Kentucky People’s Union in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky that is organizing working people around housing rights. And in 2022, we had 20,000 conversations with white working class Kentuckians as a part of a statewide effort that blocked a near-total abortion ban from being adopted into the state constitution.

Our work in Kentucky has been rooted in our members on the ground and flanked by our national base. This year, we’re contacting half a million white Kentuckians in working class, primarily rural areas to support the re-election of Democratic governor Andy Beshear.

Beshear’s opponent, Daniel Cameron, is a Trump-endorsed, far right candidate who is a career-long Mitch McConnell protege. He is running his campaign relying divide-and-conquer tactics of the far right, blaming the state’s problems on trans kids and teaching racism in schools while the GOP supermajority in the state legislature gives tax cuts to the rich.

Putting Cameron in office would be terrible for working Kentuckians, but also has national implications as his election would enshrine a Republican trifecta in Kentucky– a dangerous advance of the authoritarian right’s state-by-state take over that affects everyone.

In this election, SURJ is contributing to statewide efforts by doing what we do best: having long, values-centered conversations with white working class voters in rural areas that no other progressive group is contacting. While the Democratic Party turns out voters likely to support their efforts, we focus on persuading less likely supporters who, based on our previous campaigns, we know will support progressive causes when engaged.

SURJ members in Kentucky and across the nation meet people in their material suffering, listen and validate their experiences, and then call out the right’s divide-and-conquer tactics for what they are: distractions from the party’s failure to deliver on supporting the day-to-day lives of working people. Instead of centering the candidate, we connect over issues and offer the candidate as one right next step towards building a Kentucky that works for everyone.

And it works. In our work on the abortion amendment last year, 25% of people we spoke to who supported the ban at the beginning of our conversations were persuaded to oppose it by the end of the call.

From our work, we know that white working people are ready to support progressive causes, we just need to talk to them. Combined with the abortion victory last year, a victory this year for Beshear in this majority white working class state would be a back-to-back rejection of the right’s efforts to divide people along lines of difference or moral hysteria.

At SURJ, we organize white working people around on their shared interest- what they stand to gain- in rejecting the racism and division of the right and joining multiracial efforts for justice. We’ve done it in Kentucky before- and we’re doing it again this year.

Fight Like Hell for Kentucky Read More »

SURJ 3 Year Strategy, Part 4: Kentucky People’s Union

he news about queer people these days is mostly horrifying and heartbreaking, so we’re proud to share a bit of queer joy and resilience as we come to the end of pride month. 

This past week, members of the Kentucky People’s Union, a project of SURJ located in a small town in Eastern Kentucky, in partnership with Ashland Pride organized over 60 trans students, their parents, educators, and allies (pictured above) to demand that the local school board vote to not comply with SB 150, one of the worst anti-trans bills in the country, which includes a ban on gender-affirming care for trans youth and requires school districts to create policies that ban children from using bathrooms that align with their genders.

The Kentucky People’s Union is bringing together trans youth, working people, and community members who are ready to fight for all Kentuckians’ rights and dignity. Will you give a gift today to help KPU grow its work?

Then, will you give a gift to support Ashland Pride, a key partner in KPU’s organizing?

As you probably know, SURJ has deep roots in Kentucky. Some of our founders are from Kentucky and we have been investing in this majority-white, rural state for years. It’s a place where Mitch McConnell and the GOP have built an empire, but it’s also a place full of working white people ready to come with us. We’ve seen this time and again in our campaigns– whether defeating a statewide amendment to ban abortion or electing a slate of progressive judges in Louisville who support ending cash bail.

Kentucky People’s Union is a key part of SURJ’s strategy to build grassroots power in small towns and rural places in the South to block far right radicalization and undermine their base of support– and a cornerstone of our work in Kentucky. 

Learn more about KPU.

A year ago, KPU had its first meeting of about 12 people  (pictured above). Since then, they have knocked on hundreds of doors in the community, helped lead the SURJ campaign that stopped the abortion ban, and rallied at the state capitol to help defend trans people’s rights. A year after that first meeting, KPU’s member meeting had over 50 people in attendance where they voted to launch a housing rights campaign (pictured below).

Right now, KPU is building out this housing campaign, organizing the local school board to not comply with SB 150, and working alongside SURJ’s national work to re-elect Democratic Governor Andy Beshear. As our work in Kentucky grows, we’re hatching plans to expand SURJ’s organizing across Appalachia. KPU is an example of what we know at SURJ: that there are millions of working white people waiting for us to talk to them and waiting to be invited in. 

SURJ 3 Year Strategy, Part 4: Kentucky People’s Union Read More »

Our June Newsletter

“My right to be me is tied with a thousand threads to your right to be you.”- Leslie Feinburg, white butch activist and author

Happy pride month! Across our staff and membership, so many of us are queer. So many of us found our way into this work because of our own experiences of deep oppression and deep belonging. So many of us have found our shared interest in the work of racial justice because of our queerness.  Amidst the intensity of ongoing repression today, if you’re queer: we love you, we’re with you, and we’re fighting for you.  

Speaking of being proud, last month we launched our national three year strategy to stop authoritarianism from taking over the federal government in 2024 and to build an enduring base of working class white people. 

Schools are cornerstones of our communities and public education is an important part of democracy. Across the country, the far right is using schools for stepping stones to power, scapegoating and endangering trans kids and enforcing curriculums that teach lies about our country. And they rely on the support of white parents and white voters.

We are building a program to support members and chapters across the country to out-organize the far right in white communities and to work for school systems that serve all students.

Join us for our first School Board Organizing Call on June 20 at 8 ET to learn more. 

We are especially excited to have folks from Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia on the call to build momentum going into our priority 2024 election swing states.

On the heels of our victory defeating the near-total abortion ban in Kentucky, we’re continuing the momentum to build progressive power in this Southern state where SURJ has deep roots. This year, SURJ members in Kentucky and across the country will organize white, working class voters to re-elect Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who stands between a possible Republican trifecta and many of the far-right policies moving across the state. 

Join us on June 22 at 6 ET to call others in the SURJ network and invite them into this work.

Join the newest campaign of SURJ’s project, Southern Crossroads, to call rural Georgians to discuss how rural hospital closures are affecting them. Our goal is to call 1,000 rural residents of majority-white counties in Georgia to build with them and invite them into our work.

Register for our first phone bank on June 12 at 6 ET.

The Republican supermajority in the Kentucky state legislature overrode Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto and passed SB 150, one of the worst anti-trans bills in the country, banning gender-affirming care for trans kids and mandating schools discriminate against trans students. This horrific targeting of young people not only endangers their health and safety, but is a clear power-grab by the far right– to use trans kids as a distraction they build power around, while they underfund schools and slash funding for social services for kids.

On May 23, Louisville SURJ chapter members and SURJ National staff rallied alongside organizations from across the city, students, and public school teachers to demand that the Jefferson County Public School system vote to not comply with the statewide mandate.

With the Zinn Education Project ad ReThinking Schools, SURJ is a partner in the National Day of Action to Teach Truth. For the past two summers, teachers have rallied across the country at historic sites to speak out against anti-history education bills and to make public their pledge to teach the truth, providing a valuable counter narrative to the oversized coverage of the well-funded anti-CRT movement– and we’re doing it again this year.

SURJ chapters across our network are showing up in these efforts– learn more here about how you can sponsor an action in your community.

Register here for our action hour on Thursday, June 15, 3 ET– our monthly opportunity to take meaningful action for abolition campaigns and racial justice in a supportive community. 

New around here? Register to join our new member orientation on June 14 at 12 ET.

SURJ in the news:

  • Our rally in Louisville demanding the school system vote to not comply with the state’s legislation targeting trans students
  • SURJ Executive Director, Erin Heaney, on this new podcast about race and white people
  • Salon’s coverage of the organizing happening in Florida against DeSantis, including SURJ members

And more:

Our June Newsletter Read More »

SURJ’s three year strategy, Part 2

The first prong of SURJ’s three year strategy is to stop authoritarianism from taking over the federal government in 2024. 

For the next three years, we will be working to mobilize millions of white voters to:

  • Keep the US Presidency and Senate in Democratic control
  • Defend elections and certify election results across the country

To do this, we need millions of white people choosing to side with working people of all races and not white people at the top– and we need structures big enough to mobilize those people to not only vote out authoritarians in 2024, but stick with our movements for decades to come. 

White people have a responsibility to organize other white people into formation with POC-led organizations to prevent an authoritarian takeover of the federal government. And– we know that defeating the far right at the ballot box in 2024 doesn’t mean it will go away forever. For sustained change, we need an enduring base of support in white communities.

Over the next three years, SURJ will work to not only achieve these goals at the federal level, but use the elections to build that necessary base for longterm change, building a “big tent” where anyone from anywhere can join our work.

Our 2024 focus states

For the last six months, we have been in deep conversation and numbers crunching about exactly where we can have a meaningful impact in 2024. We considered where we have partners, where there’s a SURJ base, and where a slice of the white, working class electorate could make a difference in securing that state’s electoral votes. Based on this strategizing, we’re focusing on Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

Learn more about our plans in those states.

Building to 2024: school boards, elections, and actions

Between now and inauguration day in 2025, we’re working backwards to build the power we need to pull off these goals. To kick off the work of blocking authoritarianism and building the power we need to win, this year we’re…

Working at the school board level. From supporting anti-racist candidates to advocating to strike down anti-trans policies, we’re running a nation-wide program where you can “get in where you fit it” to support school board work near you or mobilize to support places where school board issues are heating up.

Standing with the people of Kentucky to re-elect Governor Andy Beshear. In one of the only big elections in the country in 2023, Beshear is running against a Trump-endorsed candidate who was hand-picked by Mitch McConnell. This majority poor white state has been a key place where the right has built power– and is key in stopping far right growth across the nation.

Taking action against the far right. From protecting drag story hours to election defense, we need mass actions of white people showing up against far right actors. We’ll be running training programs and coordinating actions to be in solidarity with vulnerable communities and to model white people standing for justice and not hate.

Learn more about these plans.

It’s ambitious work– and after 14 years of organizing, SURJ is in a position to be able to scale to pull it off. 

SURJ’s three year strategy, Part 2 Read More »

Which side are you on? SURJ’s 3 Year Strategy



Over the last few months, we’ve been doing some deep strategizing to assess this current political moment we’re in and ask the question: what are the biggest threats we’re facing to justice today and where is SURJ best positioned to intervene, disrupt, and take action? How can we- as the nation’s largest group specifically organizing white people for progressive movements- do our part? On this webinar we will be rolling out a multi-pronged strategy to move as a broad and vast network of folks taking action all across the country and beyond– with chapters, as individuals, or as part of our national work– to build the power we need to counter the right’s advances, defeat authoritarianism, defend and grow our democracy, and advance our fights for racial and economic justice

Which side are you on? SURJ’s 3 Year Strategy Read More »

Fight for trans rights in Kentucky and across the South

I’m writing today from my home in Kentucky where the Kentucky Legislature just passed harmful anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ bills that target trans young people. The Democratic governor will veto them, but because of a conservative supermajority in the legislature, they have the votes to override a veto and put these laws into place.  Trans people like me in Kentucky are scared, but we’re also ready to fight back. To my fellow trans folks living in the South or in places targeted by anti-trans discrimination: I love you and I see you. 

Z! in Ashland, KY.

We know voting and elections aren’t going to solve all our problems, but when we let Far Right conservative agendas run unchecked, the Right consolidates power and is able to pass legislation that will harm the most marginalized. They rely on the votes of white people to build this kind of power.  As we’re seeing racist, transphobic agendas spread across the country, organizing white people away from the lies of the Right and into solidarity is one of the most important things we white folks can be doing to stop these authoritarian policies and candidates that will have dire consequences for trans people, people of color, working people– really, for all of us.  While they drum up moral panic about the threats of drag shows and trans kids, they distract from the real problem: a small group of power-hungry elites who don’t care about any of us.  

What’s giving me hope is watching trans people across my state stand up and fight. Over the weekend, I joined an action at the state house with one of SURJ’s projects, the Kentucky People’s Union– a group of working people organizing in a small city in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky. Young trans folks from KPU, Ashland Pride, and other organizations across the state are leading their neighbors to fight against the legislature’s laws and hateful messages. They follow in the tradition of the Irish-American school teacher, Appalachian union organizer and freedom fighter, Mother Jones, who said, “Mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”  

Click here to watch SURJ’s Executive Director, Erin Heaney, and I talk about this legislation, SURJ’s deep queer roots in Kentucky, and why fighting this anti-trans legislation is entwined with fights for racial justice. Don’t forget to join our email list to get updates on how you can take action with us.

With love and solidarity, Z! Haukeness and SURJ

Fight for trans rights in Kentucky and across the South Read More »

Muddy clothes? ‘Cop City’ activists question police evidence

ATLANTA (AP) — When police stormed an Atlanta-area music festival two days after a rainstorm, they were looking for suspects wearing muddy clothing.

Authorities moved in on the South River Music Festival on the evening of March 5, over an hour after more than 150 masked activists attacked a construction site about three-quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometers) away, bashing equipment, torching a bulldozer and a police ATV, while throwing rocks and fireworks at retreating law enforcement officers, according to police surveillance footage.

Read the full article

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