Last month, more than 250 local elected officials, community leaders, policy and labor partners from across the country gathered in Detroit for the largest, most diverse, and most powerful Local Progressconvening to date. We were thrilled to be welcomed by Detroit Councilmember Raquel Castañeda-López, Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield, School Board President Misha Stallworth, Grand Traverse County Commissioner Betsy Coffia, and Detroit Action Executive Director Branden Snyder.
After attending the convening, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo remarked that if all politics are local, Detroit was the political epicenter of the world this past weekend. We couldn’t have said it better. We had more than 190 local elected officials in attendance (nearly 20% of our membership) with 68 of them new to the network, hailing from more than 30 states and 130 jurisdictions.
We gathered to discuss “Equity. Justice. Power.”
This wasn’t just a theme. It is a call to meet the challenge of enshrining local policy and action that dismantles systems of oppression designed to exclude people of color. This year’s convening focused on building the power, courage, and creativity to tackle those crises of our time, whether they be homelessness, mass incarceration and disinvestment, targeting of immigrants, or runaway inequality.
In every plenary, breakout workshop, Detroit site visit, and interaction, we asked attendees to grapple with how to overcome political, structural, and institutional barriers to an agenda of racial equity. For each of our topics – from the Census 2020 to local government budgets to media strategy – moderators, speakers, and participants reckoned with the past and present of how localities have entrenched racism and exclusion, as well as how to boldly overcome those structures. You can relive the program and see who spoke at the convening by checking out the full program book or perusing the hashtag on social media.
We were thrilled to honor two Local Progress members who are leaders in our network and for “Equity, Justice, Power.” We proudly awarded Balsz School District Board President Channel Powe of Arizona the “Network Builder Award” for her tremendous leadership in bringing new members into Local Progress, building deep relationships, and helping shape our school board and racial justice work. Next, Local Progress members voted Seattle Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda the “Ady Barkan Progressive Champion” for her commitment to building progressive power through the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights, her cross-city leadership around corporate accountability, and her leadership on progressive housing policy.
The LP network wouldn’t thrive without the commitment of members across the country to making this a place where people learn from each other, collectively take on the greatest challenges in our communities, and develop an agenda that we know will impact state and federal policy as well.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan’s 13th district joined us to give a powerful, imaginative speech about inclusive governance, holding dual roles as organizers and elected officials, and carrying the mandate of our communities in office. Then, to thunderous applause, she reminded us that the “Squad” is all of us who fight for a more equitable and just society.
We are so indebted to the women leaders of Local Progress, who through their Women’s Caucus events kicked off our convening and led much of the program throughout the weekend.
We are once again in awe of all of the work that LP members are carrying hand-in-hand with local organizers and working people across the country. We look forward to continuing our work with you all to take on the urgent challenges of our time and build racial equity, power, and prosperity in your local communities.
We encourage you to check out our policy resource library and get in touch with us to share what you’re working on in the coming months.
Lastly, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to Local Progress to help grow the network and build our work on equity, housing, policing reform, immigrant rights, and more.
Ari, Chad, Danielle, Fran, Ivan, Mercedes, Sarah, Silvia and Tarsi
The Local Progress team