In late August over 40 black and brown youth from across the U.S. converged in Miami, Florida. Together we explored how the private prison industry actively works to divide black and brown communities. Youth led workshops on the intersections of mass incarceration and immigration enforcements and strategy sessions. Participants are now leading efforts to convene criminal justice, immigrant rights, and youth organizations in New York and California next month to build strategic black and brown unity campaigns against the for-profit prison industry. Visit our campaign page for more information about how to get involved.
The retreat brought together youth leaders to learn from and with each other, and also connected them with guidance and inspiration from movement elders. Maria Rodriguez kicked off the retreat as a keynote speaker. The Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition spoke about her personal story as an organizer and her evolving approach to campaigns. She shared stories from the successful CCA Go Away campaign, and linked private prison fights with her history of involvement in anti-apartheid divestment and tenant organizing. Desmond Meade, President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, talked about the dominant narrative that casts people of color as lacking value, and how Black and Brown people must unite to achieve justice in the fight against overpolicing and hyperincarceration.
Youth leaders and staff from Enlace and Responsible Endowments Coalition led workshops on community building, leadership development, power and politics of universities and private prisons, Enlace's Integrated Organizing Approach frameworks for grassroots organizing, and more. In the wake of Mike Brown's murder in Ferguson, Missouri, conversations on anti-Blackness were unavoidable, and brought the group closer together to talk about the realities of building Black-Brown unity with trust and healing.
Students and youth from Dream Defenders in Florida, the Ya-Ya Network in New York, VORP in Denver, City University of New York, University of Central Florida, Columbia University, and University of California, are now ready to take on prison divestment in their communities.
Thanks to the United Methodist Church and New Economies Coalition for providing support, and to all the awesome youth organizers that joined us in Miami!