June 18, 2024

Jason Tomlinson

2024 ABSI set to launch in July

Social and economic justice movements have collectively failed to expand opportunities for Black thought leaders and strategists. In response to this inequity, Jobs With Justice launched the Advancing Black Strategists Initiative (ABSI) in 2020. Our unwavering commitment is to create cohorts of Black economic justice and labor-focused strategists who are dedicated to leading, developing, and advancing policies and campaigns that support the collective power-building of working people, particularly in the South.

After ABSI launched in 2020, we inducted four ABSI Fellows into the inaugural cohort in the Spring of 2022. Each fellow was placed in organizing campaigns throughout the South:

  • Nichel Dunlap-Thompson partnered with the United Steel Workers to demand that Giti Tire invest in the Chester, SC community and hire local workers.
  • Eric Hall worked with the United Auto Workers to organize at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and a Volvo plant in Montogomery, Alabama.
  • Anastancia Cuna organized with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades in Atlanta, GA.
  • Shechel Williams joined Jobs to Move America in Birmingham, AL, to ensure that workers and communities reap real benefits from federal investments of public tax dollars in private corporations.

This paid apprenticeship program offered a cohort of Black worker-leaders direct experience in developing and implementing strategies that seek to expand organizing and collective bargaining power. Fellows also participated in a rigorous curriculum led by Black academics which examined the effects of race, class, gender, and power on workers across the South. Their stories and the ABSI ‘School of Thought’ were documented throughout the fellowship in “ABSI: Reviving the Southern Black Labor Movement”.

This Juneteenth, as we honor the power of our ancestors and celebrate the emerging Black leadership of the future, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of the second ABSI Fellowship cohort. In partnership with Clark Atlanta University, we’ll welcome the newest ABSI fellows on July 11, 2024.

The Advancing Black Strategists Initiative is our attempt to defeat anti-Black and anti-worker strategies that were birthed during the Confederacy, prevailed through the Jim Crow era, and persist today. Jobs With Justice is committed to getting the tools and resources into the hands of those most impacted by these harmful ideologies and practices. In the same spirit of resistance as the first Juneteenth jubilee, Southern Black workers will lead us on the path to economic and worker justice for all.

Keep an eye on this space to learn more about the 2024 ABSI Fellowship Cohort.

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