“Don’t mourn, organize!” –Joe Hill, before being shot by a Utah firing squad
Approximately 700 activists and former Bernie Sanders for President supporters gathered at St. Peter’s AME Church in South Minneapolis on Sunday, Nov. 13. The three-hour-long meeting, starting at 1 p.m., was called “Trump, 2017 and Beyond: A Community Response.” There were long but fast-moving lines across the parking lot to enter. Although the main meeting was held in the sanctuary, which probably has a capacity of about 450, sign-in was in the basement, which was packed full with people coming to sign in, working on side projects, and snaking through the crowd after signing in to get upstairs. The basement remained full of people throughout the three hours, with people rotating from downstairs to upstairs, standing in the back of the sanctuary and popping outside to get a breath.
The pastor of St. Peter’s AME welcomed the crowd to his church, and spoke briefly about the revolutionary history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and his ministry of the past four years as he has been bringing St. Peter’s back to its place in the struggle for peace with justice. The rest of the speakers in the first segment were DFL candidates who had been supported by Our Revolution MN. The two most popular with the crowd (one who sadly lost, and one who rather spectacularly won) were Alberder Gillespie of District 53B in Woodbury and Ilhan Omar of District 60B in South Minneapolis. Both women received multiple standing ovations. Gillespie mainly spoke about how the election results highlighted how much of a problem racism is. She likened it to ripping off the Band-aid. “Racism not real? It’s real,” she said, “And now we gotta be real.” Omar, whose stunning victory has been nationally recognized, got an ovation even before she began to speak. She likened her children’s disappointment and fear over the election to her own disappointment upon coming to America from a refugee camp in Kenya and finding it not the paradise she had been promised. Her grandparents told her “it wasn’t a lie, but you have to make it true.” She said that we who have power, the power of the vote and the protection of citizenship, have a duty to speak up for and defend those without power.
At this point, the meeting turned to practical things: getting all these hundreds of people sorted into the many committees and working groups that have formed, some since the elections, some from the very beginning of Our Revolution MN back in August. Due to space restrictions, a lot of the breakouts met in the parking lot, on the front lawn, or in the basement. All of the committees will meet at least once before the follow-up meeting on Nov.20.
A long follow-up was posted on the Our Revolution page on Facebook, which said, in part:
“Sunday was astounding. Over the course of the day, around 700 people came to St. Peter’s AME Church to process, forge new connections and plan for the future. After a week when many Americans have felt hopeless, yesterday was absolutely uplifting— and very much due to the excitement all of you brought to the table. We took the important step of forming a wide range of teams to begin the work of building a future that works for all of us.”
“Some of the working committees are: Issues, Events, Endorsements, Outreach & Diversity, Fundraising, Community Service, Party Reform & Education, Campus Organizing, Communication/Technology, Local Elections, Statewide Organizing, Faith Based Organizing, Recruitment.
“Please take the survey to indicate your strengths and explain how you would like to fit into Our Revolution MN.: http://bit.ly/2f1UGe6.
“Have more questions or want to be added to a team right now? Email email@example.com.”
The first follow-up meeting and all the interim committee meetings occurred in the week between Nov. 14 and 20, with the follow-up meeting at 4 p.m. Nov. 20 at Isuroon. At this time we don’t know when the next meeting after that will be. However, Our Revolution MN is always accepting new members to get plugged into one of the above teams. You can email the contact address above, or visit the Facebook page and use the Send a Message button to ask to be added to the mailing list and about any team you want to join.
Our Revolution MN is an independent state-based organization loosely affiliated with the national organization Our Revolution, which Bernie Sanders and close supporters started after his bid for the Democratic nomination failed. The national organization’s mission is to transform the national Democratic Party into a progressive, grassroots-driven, labor-oriented party, without control by corporations or the extremely wealthy. Our Revolution MN was formed to address the special task of reforming the MN DFL Party and is also fueled by a belief that transformative progressive movements need to start with local issues and races.