Organizing Apprenticeship Project
New Tools for a New Century
Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1963 speech brought racial justice to the forefront by connecting it to the emerging civil rights movement. What has happened to that dream? In the heartland, community organizers are working to ensure racial justice. Organizing Apprenticeship Project (OAP) located in Minneapolis, Minnesota has built a base of community leaders and a network of community organizations demanding that the promise of racial equity is achieved. Founded in 1993, OAP’s core work is training community organizers. In the past 17 years, they have developed over 300 organizers for 80 organizations throughout the state. Since 2005 OAP has linked their racial equity training campaigns across the state.
Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes and one big contradiction. Despite our best intentions and belief in fairness and justice the state ranks as one of the highest in all measures of racial disparity and growing segregation. To confront the contradiction OAP developed a new strategy which sought to confront complacency, create an opportunity for organizers of color to lead on race, and to develop tools to ensure accountability.
To be a catalyst for change OAP partnered with Applied Research Center (ARC) to take a nation-wide approach to advancing racial equity to examine the real lasting impact of policy on communities of color. This shift in strategy at the heart of racial justice organizing is empowering key leaders with the knowledge and skills to combat ongoing institutional racism. OAP is working to advance the framework, leadership, and alliances needed to end racial disparities, and to build the power for realizing that change.
OAP has created new training tools in MN including: the Minnesota Legislative Report Cards on Racial Equity and the legislative report on Race and the Budget. These tools outline key pieces of legislation and give a grade to how each state official voted. The report card and accompanying budget analysis is used by organizers to educate their communities on what is vital to the racial equity discussion and whether elected officials are taking the lead on race. These dialogues between public servants and an educated public are critical to a true democracy.
In the face of racial disparities in Minnesota and across the country, community leaders like OAP are bringing communities together to end racial disparities. By developing a new framework, analysis, and tools based on the shared values of justice, equality, and a common commitment to equitable outcomes OAP is helping communities build the power needed to make Martin Luther King Jr’s dream a reality.