Penn State

Consortium forSocial Movements and Education
Research and Practice

Education for Movement Building: The Role of Political Education in Strengthening Social Movements in the US

Education for Movement Building: The Role of Political Education in Strengthening Social Movements in the US

Nov 12, 2021
– 1:30PM

This panel will explore how U.S. social movement leaders are incorporating political education into their broader struggles for economic and racial justice. Globally, a diversity of social movements has emerged and strengthened through non-formal educational initiatives that allow working-class communities to both analyze the structural reasons for their poverty and engage in collective struggle to change those conditions. In this panel, leaders from three different social movement organizations will share how they are attempting to develop political education to build their respective political projects. Panelists will discuss the form that this political education takes, the content and curriculum they have created, and the overall vision for how political education can support U.S. social movements.

Meet the Panelists:

Claudia de la Cruz, The People's Forum

Claudia was born in the South Bronx to immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. She is a popular educator, community organizer and theologian. In her role as Co-Executive Director at The People's Forum, Claudia is committed to contribute her experiences and skills in the creation of cultural-educational space with organizers, educators and cultural workers/artists to continue producing, promoting and uplifting the cultural traditions that nourish and strengthen our communities in our struggles towards social justice. For over 20 years, she has been committed to movement building, and has actively participated in collective grassroots spaces, particularly in the communities of Washington Heights and The South Bronx. Claudia was Pastor of her home-church, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas-UCC- a community church rooted in the traditions of Latin American Liberation Theology and grassroots organizing. Through her ministry she found her passion, and has dedicated most of her life to the leadership development of youth through political education and culture. In 2004, she co­founded Da Urban Butterflies Youth Leadership Development Project (D.U.B). Her experiences in D.U.B informed her participation in the development of cultural and political education programing at The Rebel Diaz Arts Collective (RDAC-BX) for almost 5 years.

Harmony Goldberg, The Grassroots Policy Project

Harmony has been providing political education and strategic facilitation for social movements in the United States for more than 25 years. She cut her teeth in California's youth and student movement in the 1990s, where she helped to found and lead SOUL, the School Of Unity and Liberation. Then, she worked closely with the domestic workers movement and other low­wage workers organizations as the workers center movement was coming into its own. After completing her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center, Harmony began working at the Grassroots Policy Project, where she works closely with People's Action and leads the development of strategic education programs.

Milena Velis, LeftRoot

Milena has spent over a decade working with grassroots organizers to connect their struggles, tell untold stories, and build infrastructure to make transformative structural change more possible. Currently Milena coordinates training and leadership development at LeftRoots, supporting community organizers to develop into strategists for liberation. Previously, she worked with labor, immigrant rights, and youth organizations at the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia to produce collaborative community media and connect leaders to each other. Milena's also been a local news reporter for Al Dfa, a Spanish-language weekly newspaper covering Philadelphia's Latino community, and she has supported community organizations across the US to build radio stations with the Prometheus Radio Project.