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The Persuaders
The lifeblood of any free society is persuasion: changing other people’s minds in order to change things. But America is suffering a crisis of faith in persuasion that is putting its democracy and the planet itself at risk. Americans increasingly write one another off instead of seeking to win one another over. Debates are framed in moralistic terms, with enemies battling the righteous. Movements for justice build barriers to entry, instead of on-ramps. Political parties focus on mobilizing the faithful rather than wooing the skeptical. And leaders who seek to forge coalitions are labeled sellouts.

In The Persuaders, Anand Giridharadas takes us inside these movements and battles, seeking out the dissenters who continue to champion persuasion in an age of polarization. We meet a leader of Black Lives Matter; a trailblazer in the feminist resistance to Trumpism; white parents at a seminar on raising adopted children of color; Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; a team of door knockers with an uncanny formula for changing minds on immigration; an ex-cult member turned QAnon deprogrammer; and, hovering menacingly offstage, Russian operatives clandestinely stoking Americans’ fatalism about one another.

As the book’s subjects grapple with how to call out threats and injustices while calling in those who don’t agree with them but just might one day, they point a way to healing, and changing, a fracturing country.

Building Resilient Organizations: Toward Joy and Durable Power in a Time of Crisis
Social justice organizations are in the midst of enormous upheaval and change. In his article Building Resilient Organizations: Toward Joy and Durable Power in a Time of Crisis, Maurice Mitchell, National Director of the Working Families Party, offers an assessment of the current dynamics within social justice organizations and pathways forward to realize “...movements that exude joy, build power, and secure critical victories for the masses of working people.”

The solutions offered in the essay span four dimensions—structural, ideological, strategic and emotional—and range from suggested practices, policies and structures to how individuals see themselves and relate to each other. 

This article is a call to action, raising the alarm about continuing along our current path and calling on each of us to learn from our mistakes and shift from a focus on problems to a focus on solutions.

The essay was first published in The Forge, Convergence, and Nonprofit Quarterly and has since garnered widespread attention and praise from organizers and activists in progressive social movements. Michelle Goldberg called the essay “keen, insightful” in The New York Times, while MSNBC’s Chris Hayes praised it for “wisdom, sense, and vision.” Maurice discussed the piece for a feature in The New York Times podcast “First Person.”


Participants

Anand Giridharadas is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Persuaders, the international bestseller Winners Take AllThe True American, and India Calling. A former foreign correspondent and columnist for The New York Times for more than a decade, he has also written for The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and Time, and is the publisher of the newsletter The.Ink. He is an on-air political analyst for MSNBC. He has received the Radcliffe Fellowship, the Porchlight Business Book of the Year Award, Harvard University’s Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanism in Culture, and the New York Public Library’s Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Michael Lionstar

“Anand Giridharadas shows the way we get real progressive change in America—by refusing to write others off, building more welcoming movements, and rededicating ourselves to the work of changing minds.” —Robert B. Reich, best-selling author of The System

Maurice Mitchell is a nationally recognized political strategist, a visionary leader in the Movement for Black Lives, and National Director of the Working Families Party.

Raised by Caribbean working-class parents in NY, Mitchell began organizing as a teenager and never stopped. At Howard University, he organized against police brutality and for divestment from private prisons after police killed a classmate. Mitchell went on to work for several grassroots advocacy groups in his home state and became director of the NY State Civic Engagement Table. 

In the wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, Mitchell relocated to Ferguson and helped build the Movement for Black Lives. He went on to co-found and lead Blackbird, a movement anchor organization that provides strategic support to Movement for Black Lives activists across the country. 

In 2018, Maurice took the helm of the Working Families Party where he is applying his passion and experience to make WFP the political home for a multi-racial working-class movement.

A progressive scholar, organizer and media personality, Dorian Warren has worked to advance racial, economic and social justice for more than two decades. Like the organizations he leads, Warren is driven by the innate conviction that only social movements – led by the people most affected by racial, economic, gender and social injustice – can change their communities and public policies for the better.

Warren is co-president of Community Change – an organization founded in 1968 by civil rights, labor and community leaders to honor the memory of Robert F. Kennedy's fight to end poverty in America. He is also the co-founder and co-chair of the Economic Security Project, an innovative social impact organization that has already shifted the national conversation around cash, economic power and economic security. And he is also the co-host of the Deep Dive podcast on The Takeaway with Melissa Harris-Perry.

Warren taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was co-director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. He's the co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race, co-editor of Race and American Political Development, and numerous academic articles. He also worked at MSNBC, where he was a Contributor, fill-in host for "Melissa Harris-Perry" and "Now with Alex Wagner" as well as the Host and co-Executive Producer of “Nerding Out” on MSNBC’s digital platform (now Peacock). He was previously a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and serves on the boards of Working Partnerships USA, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Employment Law Project, The Model Alliance and The Nation magazine. 

As a commentator on public affairs, Warren has appeared regularly on television and radio including NBC Nightly News, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, BET, BBC, NPR, Bloomberg, & NY1, among other outlets. He has also written for The Nation, Huffington Post, Newsweek, Salon, Washington Post, New York Times, Medium, Ebony.com, and Boston Review.

We are very excited to have you back at our events and would like to remind you that we are still in the midst of the pandemic. Please be considerate of your fellow guests and stay home if you’re feeling unwell. Also, consider wearing a mask when attending indoor BPL Presents events. You’ll be doing your part to help keep yourself and everyone healthy and safe.

BPL Presents programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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