Certain coalitions offer hope in divisive moment


This month a coalition of ultra conservative, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups gathered for a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, provoking counter-protests that ended in violence and the tragic death of Heather Heyer.


The emergence of this racist coalition on the public stage is cause for concern and action. Counter-protests like the one in Boston last weekend, or the upcoming solidarity march in Chicago on August 27, that bring people together to say loudly and without qualification that they reject racism and white supremacy are a start, but true change requires sustained work.


This burst of activism and action may seem spontaneous, but is the result of years of organizing, advocacy and community discussion. How do we keep this spirit of solidarity alive, and continue to make progress towards social and racial justice after the marches are over? At moments such as this, it is helpful to recall the organizing for good underway by coalitions in our own region in pursuit of equity and justice for all.


Here in Illinois, diverse coalitions are working at the local and state level to impact issues ranging from criminal justice reform and fair wages, to maternal health and gender based violence.


On Wednesday, August 30, Chicago Foundation for Women will host Beyond the Bridge, a panel of four women leading local coalitions: Tanya Watkins, Acting Director and Lead Organizer of Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation (SOUL), Jenny Arwade, Co-Executive Director of Communities United, Ana Romero of Chicago Workers’ Collaborative and Sessy Nyman of EverThrive Illinois.


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