About a dozen people standing on bright green grass with KPU signs.

The Emerging Movement to Build Multi-Racial Power in Rural Communities

“Despite the predominate national narrative, rural America is not a monolith of whiteness. Like the rest of the country, it is growing ever more diverse, with people who identify as Black, Latino, Native, Asian and multiracial comprising up to 24% of the rural population. Nearly one third of all young people in rural areas 18 and under (32.5%) come from racial or ethnic minority populations.”

“Rural places get labeled as red and conservative, but they are disenfranchised places that are being left behind. People are complicated. So when you knock a door, most people are not going to fit into political parties the way that we’ve defined it.

Rural organizing does this by building bridges across difference. When we started building the Kentucky People’s Union in April 2022, we had our first meeting in May and 11 people came, 10 white people and one Black man. In April of 2023, we had 55 people show up to a meeting. It was multiracial, multi-generational. working class, queer, disabled, and powerful. And that didn’t just happen. That happened because of intentional organizing, because we saw that we have a self-interest in being a multiracial, working class and queer led organization.” – Celina Culver, Eastern Kentucky Organizer, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)

This article is based on a Netroots Nation panel conversation between Michael Chameides, communication director of Rural Democracy Initiative (RDI) and an elected supervisor in Columbia County, New York, and featured three rural organizers: Danny Diaz, the program manager at the Rural Youth Voter Fund, a project of RDI; W. Mondale Robinson, the mayor of Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina, and Founding Principal of Black Male Voter Project; and Celina Culver, with Showing Up For Racial Justice, who is building a local organization called the Kentucky People’s Union in Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky.

article by Joel Bleifuss, Barnraisers

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