The Black Organizing Project (BOP) was created in the fall of 2009 out of community-based grassroots organizing. We hit the streets outreaching and connecting to Black people in Oakland, Ca, to get a good sense of what our community members felt were the most pressing social issues.
With no preconceived agenda for what the issues would be, we had no intention of going into Oakland communities as expert problem-solvers. Instead, we sought to bring Black people together around the issues they identified, and more importantly, provide a space for them to share and collectively develop their vision for a better community.
Through this approach, we found people who were passionate about developing the Black community and willing to organize around important issues like education, job creation, and community violence. We held listening sessions and community meetings all over the city, bringing people together to share their thoughts and ideas with folks they would never have met before.
It was in these spaces that we were able to identify several leaders that were committed to building a membership base of Black people ready to change the conditions of our community through grassroots organizing. In the spring of 2010, those leaders became the founding members of the Black Organizing Project.
Our organizing model prioritizes developing leadership skills and political analysis of key member-leaders within the community to act as critical change agents. We saw the need for a model of organizing that would provide a protected space for Black community members to address racism and racist institutions, while developing the skills and confidence to become strong voices for community change. The Black Organizing Project builds collective power by organizing a base of active and informed community members. The process of building such a base takes time and investment. For BOP, building this base is our priority. We believe it is the most effective way to produce sustainable changes in our community.
Over the past two-years, community members have continued to participate in our community listening sessions, B.O.S.S. campaign planning meetings, and other activities that directly build the collective power of communities of color in Oakland.
The Black Organizing Project emphasizes the courageous spirit that kept the Black community alive through centuries of systematic oppression. It is a spirit of deep faith, creativity, and love. This is the powerful center that our success has been rooted in and that our future success must grow out of.