The Southern Movement Assembly is an organizing process and a convergence space that centers the voices and experiences of grassroots leadership on multiple frontlines. Organizations involved with the SMA take actions locally and regionally to confront poverty, racism, and violence and to build political power in their communities. The Assembly is a movement governance process that is a combination of political education, discussion, planning, action, and synthesis. RJF grantee partner Project South is an anchor of the Southern Movement Assembly.
Since 2012, hundreds of community leaders in the South have gathered at six Southern Movement Assemblies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee. At each assembly, people discuss the pressing issues of our time, develop bold visions for change, and commit to action steps to build power.
Over 1000 participants from 140 different organizations have participated in the Southern Movement Assembly and many organize issue-based and community assemblies in their cities and towns to prepare for the regional assembly.
Project South and the Southern Movement Assembly have produced a detailed, inspiring blueprint that is part of a much larger call to action, made by people saying “Enough is Enough!” to oppression and exploitation. As the SMA writes, “This blueprint offers a Southern plan of action influenced by the past five years of Southern Movement Assemblies, building slowly toward a Southern infrastructure that connects us in our work and our principles and values. We are ready to resist fiercely and build together. We are right on time.”
The call to action has many parts, involving all kinds of people and organizations, and one key piece of participatory decision-making is the People’s Movement Assemblies. Project South produced a 50-page Handbook in 2016 with incredible resources on how to facilitate participatory processes, use popular education in movement work, and bring people together across differences.
The SMA anchors and leaders as of 2016 are: Alternate ROOTS, Black Workers for Justice, Concerned Citizens for Justice, Crescent City Media Group, Georgia Citizens’ Coalition on Hunger, Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy, National Council of Elders, New Jim Crow Movement, Southwest Workers Union, SpiritHouse, The Ordinary Peoples Society (TOPS), University Sin Fronteras, and Women Watch Afrika.