Occupy Wall Street

The Council of Elders, a newly organized, independent group of leaders from many of the defining American social justice movements of the 20th century, declared today that we stand in basic solidarity with the national Occupy Wall Street movement and the committed young people who give guidance to this important quest for justice in the 21st century. We wish to explore every possible, helpful way in which we can connect together the continuing flame of the justice and democratizing movements of the 20th century with the powerful light of the emerging movements of the present time, reflected in the Occupy Wall Street initiatives.

As veterans of the Civil Rights, Women’s, Peace, Environmental, LGBTQ, Immigrant Justice, labor rights and other movements of the last 60 years we are convinced that Occupy Wall Street is a continuation, a deepening and expansion of the determination of the diverse peoples of our nation to transform our country into a more democratic, just and compassionate society—a more perfect union. We believe that the rapidly expanding and racialized impoverishment of our population, the rise of mass incarceration, the celebration of the culture of war and violence all create the bitter divisions among the peoples of our nation and throughout the world. Indeed, we believe such developments among us ultimately diminish the quality of life for all humanity, beginning with our own children who watch as we lower the priority for their care and education.

We applaud the miraculous extent to which the Occupy initiative has been non-violent and democratic, especially in light of the weight of violence under which the great majority of people are forced to live, including joblessness, foreclosures, unemployment, poverty, inadequate health care, etc. Among the Council of Elders, we place the highest value on the role of compassion and non-violent action in our personal and organizational lives. From that hard-won grounding in the humanizing movements of the 20th century we seek to support and join with Occupy Wall Street in contributing to the dreams and visions of many in this nation for a beloved community, a multi-generational, multi-racial, compassionate, democratic society with equality, liberty and justice for all—always searching for partners in the creation of a more peaceful, sustainable world, a world with living, loving and growing space for all of our children.

Watch the Video: Vincent Harding @ Occupy San Francisco

Watch the Video: Grace Lee Boggs Message to Occupy Wall Street

Letter to Trinity Church 

Occupy Wall Street Support Group

Our Time to Break the Silence

The NCOE organized groups and organizations across the US to read and discuss Dr. King’s historic Riverside church speech, “ Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” in honor of its 50th anniversary in 2017. The Elders created materials to guide discussions and asked schools, churches, civil rights groups, labor organizations, museums, community organizations and others to join in building a movement to break silence, promote dialogue and engage in nonviolent direct action.

Our Time to Break the Silence

Prime Movers and the Hunt Alternative Fund

For three years, the Elders partnered with the Hunt Alternative Fund to hold annual meetings with the young people who have been selected to be Prime Movers.  Each year these meetings were conversations with two dozen people to discuss the current issues of our times and to bring the past and present together in thinking about the ways we incorporate nonviolence methods and ideas in our work.

The Children’s Defense Fund and Young Leaders

For four years, the Elders have met twice a year with young activists at the Haley Farm in Tennessee.  Within the context of nonviolence theory and practice, the conversations range from encouraging the work of young formerly incarcerated people who are organizing in communities and the leadership necessary to staff hundreds of Freedom Schools each summer.

Project South and the Southern Movement Assembly

Project South is NCOE’s fiscal sponsor and provides assistance such as website construction, facilitation, correspondence. Elders sit on the Project South board and also support and participate in the Southern Movement Assembly.  Both Project South and the Southern Movement Assembly are cross-generational in all their work.

NCOE Partners with the Southern Movement Assembly

NCOE Statement of Solidarity with the Southern Movement Assembly

Partner report:  Project South 2017