I am so proud to share that the Kentucky People’s Union (KPU), a project of SURJ in Eastern Kentucky that I helped found alongside community members, was featured this week in MSNBC’s annual racial healing special to commemorate the Martin Luther King Day Holiday.

KPU and other projects like it at SURJ are changing the narrative about what racial healing and racial justice mean. We are a working class-led project fighting for housing rights in a majority-white small town in Appalachia in a deeply conservative area. When white folks talk to other white people about race and what we stand to gain by standing with, rather than against, people of color, we come together and become powerful enough to win things like renters rights in small towns here in Kentucky– or bigger scale things like federal elections.

Watch the special here– KPU’s segment starts at about 43 minutes in.

In the special, I talk about how racism is a strategy. It doesn’t serve those at the top for white people to recognize whiteness or to talk to other white people about racism or transphobia or other issues those at the top try to use to divide us.

While SURJ National is taking on big electoral fights in 2024 to block authoritarians from taking the federal government, KPU will be continuing our long-haul organizing work in Ashland to grow our membership, elect aligned local leaders, and win house legislation in deep red Kentucky. Our work at KPU is a part of SURJ’s strategy of building the white working class flank of Southern, multiracial movements to deliver wins for working people and out-organize the right in areas it relies on for support.

I’m proud that SURJ is struggling on multiple fronts: both on a national scale and deeply local. We’re blocking the far right from further advancing in Washington, and cutting their base out from beneath them by growing our small town organizing in the South. 

We need your support to grow this work in 2024. Can you give a gift today to power KPU and our Southern organizing?

In solidarity, 

Beth Howard

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