Our history is not a steady march of incremental gains–it’s tumultuous, pockmarked by periods of disruption, forward movement, and violent reaction in defense of the status quo. During a few short years in the mid-1960s, people of color, immigrants, and low-income people won a more inclusive democracy and economy through the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, immigration reform, and the creation of the anti-poverty programs at Community Change of our federal safety net.
I firmly believe that we are approaching such a moment–when a confluence of movement energy and bold ideas and political pressure take on structural injustice that our society can no longer bear. But even with this window of opportunity, to paraphrase A. Philip Randolph, there are no reserved seats at the banquet table of life. We have to get organized.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of co-hosting Bold v. Old. This day-long event brought together organizers and policymakers to grapple with ideas from revaluing and redefining “work” to making universal child care and health care a reality to moving our economic system beyond neoliberalism. As Michael Tubbs, the young, Black mayor of Stockton, CA, said: “A lot of things that are old now were bold first. 300 years ago, the fact that I’m a human being and not someone’s property was a bold idea and restructured our economy.”