The crowd raised their fists and chanted for justice. Jeralynn Blueford’s voice was the loudest. She and her husband had taken the stage to spread the news of their son Alan Bluerford who was shot and killed by a member of the Oakland Police Department. As they thanked festival attendees for their time, community members circulated the park handing out flyers for a rally in front of the district attorney’s office. I wondered how many people would attend the rally for Alan Blueford. How much of getting people out and fighting was connected to national news coverage? Must an issue be viral before there would be enough voices? Would the current stay of the Trayvon Martin case make people more or less likely to get involved with Alan Blueford?

Today is the day on the flyer. I’ve read accounts of shooting. I’ve watched videos of speeches. I’ve seen the comment sections. My question now is where would I be most effective? For a long time I refused to attend rallies and marches. If you couldn’t give me details about a planning meeting or an outline of what we were doing once we left the streets, I couldn’t get down. I was convinced of the power that many of our elders had when they took to the streets, but not so certain of ours. At some point I started to see the power of the visual. Maybe volunteering and working with community members isn’t enough if you can’t get folks to turn out and show that they’re in support of your cause.

As I get older, my thoughts on and my brand of activism change. What forms of activism do you find most effective?

How do you facilitate change?

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  • I am sorry, but I have never seen those online petitions (like change.org) work. I am not even sure hunger strikes work anymore. I am not referring to the attention it garners, I mean the actual thing they are fight for. Maybe I am wrong. But I think the “Powers that Be” have found ways of making traditional forms of activism, like marches or sit-ins, relatively ineffective.

    I am not sure it is because the things we fight for now seem vague. How do you, for example, make a law against bullying? How do you begin to define that and whose responsibility is it? How effective is 911 when a bully lives two doors down from you?

    Or with Occupy Wall Street? Can anyone get a job there now? What have they accomplished thus far? Or is having a voice more important than getting a desired outcome?

    • Bee

      While I disagree with the line of questioning you make regarding Occupy Wallstreet (many of those people have jobs, many just not well-paying enough to sustain a livelihood), I agree 100% with this: “I think the “Powers that Be” have found ways of making traditional forms of activism, like marches or sit-ins, relatively ineffective.” I’ve been saying that forever!

    • @Bee, I will give you that for Occupy Wall Street, but that is my thing. I would love to support them, I just never really knew how, maybe because I was looking for specifics on who they are, what they are for/against, how they could go about it and specifically how my money/effort/time was going to manifest into anything.

  • AJ

    I publish a weekly, e-mag for the past near 14 years. I’ve used it as a forum to “marshall the troops” with amazing effectiveness. Its my way of continuing a family history of community service that spans 4 previous generations. Our successes have occurred on local, state, national, and international levels.

  • You facilitate change by being about it, and not just talking about it. Personally, ya’ll know I ride and die for Africa, all day everyday. But that is not enough, being vocal is just a basic step. I volunteer my time, service and finances towards worthy causes in the motherland at least every two years or so.Especially those dealing in empowering African women and eradicating poverty and HIV/AIDS. Oh yeah, and my many grandfathers and grandmommies.

    For me, I am not about effecting changing for everybody, it’s about touching the life of just ONE person. That is enough for me. Then, I can say I’ve truly done something towards effecting change.