The Color of the Movement

February 2022 Newsletter



By Jennifer Wells

As we close out the “official” and public celebration of Black History Month, I reflect on the rich, profound contribution of Black brilliance to organizing and paving a path to authentic power that transforms spaces for our political and economic liberation. Black folks have organized, resisted, and innovated for over 400 years in America. The effectiveness of Black organizing is without question. The reliance on Black women every election cycle speaks clearly to this. But while they are called on to save democracy every election year, Black women and their strategic leadership are too often placed on a proverbial shelf until needed again. The call to trust us appears limited to only certain spaces. If our movement truly wants to win, we must fully bet on Black women. 

As a Black woman raised in the deep South, I have been surrounded by the evidence of Black women’s leadership, strategic thinking, tenacity, and organizing prowess continuously and consistently. I need only look within my own family. At her kitchen table, my grandmother and her sisters’ circle developed neighborhood mutual aid strategies along with joy-centered activities to alleviate some of the devastating impacts of the Great Depression and Jim Crow. With a deep, personal connection to Black women organizing their immediate community to meet their needs — and my Power 50 experience as a member of the inaugural cohort! — I first began to touch the root of my leadership and the space I could occupy. 

Black women bring a natural intuitive leadership to organizing spaces. We are as astute and strategic as we are bold in action — a powerful combination that is hard to ignore. On the first evening of our Power 50 retreat, Community Change Co-President Dorian Warren dropped the data to support this truth: When women of color lead labor organizing efforts, they have a win rate of 89 percent. The power to transform and win is innate within the Black organizing sisterhood.

Black women are simply the surest bet in the movement. Is the movement ready to win?

For the bulk of 2021, I supported coalition building and organizing in West Virginia, where I have lived for close to two decades. Yes, Black women are everywhere. Yes, there is beautiful Black leadership in the hills of Appalachia, and I have had the privilege to witness and organize alongside some of the fiercest Black organizers. When Senator Manchin signaled his opposition to vital economic relief, WV Black folks, especially Black women organizers, began strategizing. It was the WV Black community led by a fiery squad of Black women — Takeiya Smith (Young WV), Loretta Young (Race Matters WV), Katonya Hart (Call to Action for Racial Equality), Crystal Good, and more — that demanded affordable and accessible child care, an expanded, fully refundable child tax credit, a pathway to citizenship, health care for all, and full voting rights. 

Did you witness the power of the kayakers’ confrontation? Thank the Black West Virginia women who organized and turned out the WV contingency. And the protest and federal policy work are just one aspect of the organizing they lead. I’ve seen first-hand the impact of their year-round leadership: establishing the only WV Black newspaper (Black By God), organizing Black businesses to obtain ARPA funds, organizing WV churches to provide pandemic relief, and registering WV voters. They are strategists, campaigners, activists, and coalition-builders. 

Yet, Black women still must fight to be at the table and for full autonomy to lead the work.

The question remains, when will we accept that Black women know the truth and the way? It is easy to repeat the phrases and sentiments to trust us. It is easy to wear the t-shirts with the legendary ancestors’ quotes: Thank you, Rosa, Ella, and Fannie Lou. What is not always easy is to step out of the way and away from the table to allow the fullness, complexity, beauty, and fierceness of Black women’s leadership to light the way. Yet, it is what we must do to win.




The Color of Immigration

We continue to uplift the voices of directly impacted immigrants calling for protection and relief for their communities. In close partnership with the national We Are Home campaign, we are activating the grassroots field to fight back against the harms of the enforcement system — elevating the message that continued inaction on enforcement is an endorsement of a racist, anti-immigrant status quo. At the end of January, we hosted a powerful virtual summit that brought together 375 grassroots leaders and organizers to strategize about building power to genuinely overhaul the U.S. immigration system, so our policies treat people fairly, humanely, and ensure due process. The event included political education panels detailing the detention system’s impact on Black immigrants and queer communities, information sharing about the local and state victories that have been won over the last year, and workshops to plan mobilizations for the months ahead.

Although federal progress on immigration policy has recently stalled, we won’t let up the pressure anytime soon. In the lead-up to President Biden’s State of the Union address, Community Change’s Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) has planned an Immigrants’ State of the Union with events in DC and California anchored by our partners CASA and CHIRLA. Across the country, FIRM members are taking digital action to lift up stories of impacted immigrants and call on the Biden administration to deliver long-overdue protections for our communities: a version of Build Back Better that includes a path to citizenship, and executive actions to dismantle the enforcement system and extend temporary protections like TPS.

We are also celebrating the growing power and reach of our FIRM network, with the addition of the Hawaii Coalition for Immigrant Rights (HCIR). HCIR is a coalition of immigrants, immigrant-led and -serving organizations, and allies united in advocacy and education for equal justice and community inclusion for immigrants. For many years, HCIR has worked to seek policies that recognize the innate dignity of all persons and promote the civil rights of all of Hawaii’s people. We look forward to building power in Hawaii immigrant communities together!

The Power of Women

We bet on Black women and women of color. Because they sit at the intersections of race and gender, their leadership is essential for building a powerful progressive movement that can fight for a society where everyone can thrive. That’s why Power 50 provides women of color organizers with deep grounding, tools, practices, political analysis, and the relationships they need to stay in the field, sustain their vision, and lead boldly in a complex world. 

Women of color organizers leading in progressive organizations are often isolated and face unique obstacles in their leadership. They apply to Power 50 to become a part of a network where their experiences are validated and their leadership is affirmed, and to create solidarity with other women. This year, we had our highest number of applications for the program – over 60 – and more executive directors applied than in previous years. In January, we launched our fourth cohort with 16 organizers who come from our networks of partner organizations and emerging leaders across the country. Join us in welcoming them! 

  • Aqeela Muntaqim, Deputy Director, Mothering Justice (MI)
  • Becky Belcore, Co-Director, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (IL)
  • Clarissa Epps, Senior Organizer, Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity (BREAD) (OH)
  • Dawn N. Blagrove, Executive Director, Emancipate NC
  • Duaa-Rahemaah Williams, Statewide Organizer, Washington Low Income Housing Alliance
  • Joan Brannon, Organizing Co-Director, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
  • Kaitie Dong, Leadership Development & Education Manager, OneAmerica (WA)
  • Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director, BlackRoots Alliance (IL)
  • Maria del Carmen Gutierrez Rodriguez, Director of Membership, CASA National (PA)
  • Marian Méndez-Cera, Workers’ Justice Lead Organizer & Policy Coordinator, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos (NM) 
  • Mayra Cedano, Executive Director, Comunidades Unidas (UT)
  • Nayda Benitez, South Regional Organizer, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • Ofelia Sanchez, Orlando Organizer, Central Florida Jobs With Justice
  • Tessa Painson, Co-Executive Director, Florida Immigrant Coalition
  • Wendy Cardenas, Lead Organizer, Make the Road CT
  • Yani Rosario, Organizing Director, SPACEs In Action (DC) 

The cohort members will receive training and skills-building and attend three virtual retreats to build solidarity and strong relationships with each other, with Community Change, and with members of previous Power 50 cohorts. 


As we’ve worked closely with directly impacted communities and helped folks work up the courage to make their reality heard, we’ve found that oftentimes they’re left disappointed. Too many times they’ve given up their one free hour of the evening to do a long, vulnerable, interview with a reporter, only to find they’ve been quoted in one line that belittles their lived experience or uses them to fit a stereotypical narrative. That’s why we are excited to announce the re-launch of! 

At ChangeWire, we tell stories from the ground up. We compile news, reflections, and opinions of movement leaders, organizers, directly impacted folks, and progressive thought leaders. And now it comes with a more polished look, better navigation, new graphics, and for the first time, a ChangeWire newsletter. The first edition of the newsletter features our own BriTanya Bays and Michelle Lasley sharing their lived experience of food insecurity as child care providers — and their call for an economy that works for all of us. 

Take a look around, subscribe to our newsletter, and share our new promo video with your networks! 





On Valentine’s Day, ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ protesters rally at LOVE Park to demand reform

The Philadelphia Inquirer follows the national “A Day Without Immigrants’” protests on Valentine’s Day as they show the essential contributions, labor, and spending power of Philly’s immigrant families.

Eligibility Criteria, Application Timeline Expected This Month for Chicago’s Guaranteed Basic Income Program

Check out this video that describes a new guaranteed income program being launched in Chicago. Community Change Co-President Dorian Warren joins a panel to explain the benefits of guaranteed income programs and Richard Wallace, founder and executive director of our partner Equity And Transformation (EAT), describes how his organization’s guaranteed income program, the Chicago Future Fund, is lowering barriers to re-entry for post-incarcerated Chicago residents. 

Power Concedes Nothing: Book Available!

Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins Elections tells the stories behind the mobilization that defeated Trump, won the Senate, and powered progressive candidates to new levels of influence. Compiling reflections from leading experts in the field — including Community Change Action’s former Managing Director Deepak Pateriya — this insightful new book describes the on-the-ground efforts that galvanized a record-breaking turnout by registering new voters and motivating a diverse electorate of young voters, immigrant voters, working class voters, and voters of color. Grab your copy today! This is a must read as we look towards winning in 2022 and building power for the vital contests in 2024 and beyond.