The Urgency of Now – Organizing in Black Communities Featuring Marcus McGrew


Unmoved Movers: The Importance of Investing in Organizing in Black Communities 

If there is any doubt that investing in organizing in Black communities can affect social change, consider the bold action that came out of Selma, Alabama, 50 years ago that gave dignity to the humanity of Black people and hope to our nation.

Fifty years ago on Bloody Sunday, 600 foot soldiers set out to change the course of history in this country, to nonviolently protest the denial of voting rights for Black people, and to trample the back of bigotry everywhere, especially in the South where white supremacy was established by law. They had conviction of heart, unwavering faith in God, and a shared vision for a better nation.  They organized then so we could be who and where we are today with an expectant hope that we would run faster and go further as a people and a nation. From Brown Chapel AME Church to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, John Lewis led an army of nonviolent, ordinary Americans on the first of three marches. The first would become known as Bloody Sunday for on that day nonviolent Black men and women were beaten mercilessly by Alabama troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, preventing them to cross. During the second attempt, also known as Turnaround Tuesday, Dr. King led foot soldiers to the bridge, kneeled and prayed, and turned back. But it was the third march when resistance gave way to the relentless persistence of 600 foot soldiers who sojourned 54 miles over 5 days from Selma to Montgomery. Against all odds, these courageous heroes and heroines confronted and triumphed over the intractable evils of that day and left for us a blueprint to organize. With every step, they got us a bit closer to equality as a people in a nation our slave ancestors built. They struggled so we could gain ground for the next generation.

Investing in organizing in Black communities is not a new concept. However, it is a proven one, and we owe it to every unmoved mover – named and unknown – to continue the legacy of organizing in Black communities. Forward, March!

Marcus McGrew
Director of Grants Management
The Kresge Foundation