About the Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School


Human Rights for AllMission & vision

The Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School is an initiative founded by Alliance for Global Justice to amplify the exchange of training, skills and infrastructure for grassroots activists and organizers with a vision for transformative change and a mission to expose and oppose human rights violations in and by the United States.

As Lucy Parsons once said, “a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society.” We believe in the power of popular education as a tool for building a more principled and unified grassroots movement for liberation in the United States. 

The dominating narrative in mainstream media and academia treats human rights violations as abnormal or isolated incidents, divorcing them from their political, social and economic contexts. We recognize that the concentration of wealth and power on a global scale is at the root of most, if not all, human rights violations, and that the full realization of human rights requires a conscious effort to dismantle systemic oppression and inequality. There is no better place for us to start than within the heart of Empire itself, which poses the greatest threat to human rights in and outside of its borders. 

As Paulo Freire once described, “one cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people.” We’re studying the curricula, reporting and activist tools used by our sister organizations involved at the frontlines of popular movements in the U.S. and the Americas to train and certify a grassroots network of human rights monitors and defenders. 

Centering the lived realities and expertise of grassroots leadership in the U.S. and the Americas, the school envisions the cultivation of a stronger and more unified network of human rights defenders organizing at the frontlines of human rights struggles to uproot their systemic foundations: capitalism, colonialism, imperialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, neoliberalism and all forms of oppression and injustice.


The establishment of the Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School serves four objectives:

  1. To build bridges between AFGJ, its fiscally sponsored organizations, and frontline grassroots organizations working in communities at the highest risk of human rights violations in the U.S.
  2. To strengthen communication channels between grassroots organizations through the establishment of a national grassroots human rights reporting network in the U.S.
  3. To build and maintain collaborative and strategic partnerships connecting grassroots organizations, human rights defenders and educational institutions & programs
  4. To build a stronger and more unified national grassroots network of human rights monitors and defenders in the U.S.

Advancing the legacy of Lucy Parsons

We decided to name our human rights school after Lucy Parsons because we wanted to send a clear signal. We recognize that the traditional, Western concept of “human rights” was developed alongside the emergence of capitalism as the world’s dominant economic system, and, particularly, as an expression of liberal Enlightenment values. As such, the human rights being promoted were about the rights of individuals to be freed from the restrictions of an old system born of feudalism and the calcified privileges of the “noble” class.

Lucy Parsons, however, took a very different approach to human rights. For her, the struggle for human rights was fundamentally a tool to be used toward the liberation of all peoples. She regarded the struggle for human rights as a collective struggle for the common good. She understood that the greatest threat to human rights is the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of an elite class, as advanced by systemic oppression. Thus, by taking this name, the signal we send is: the struggle for human rights must be a struggle against global capitalism, against imperialism, and for the rights of everyone. Read more

“There’s no such thing as neutral education. Education either functions as an instrument to bring about conformity or freedom.” ~ Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

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Contact us

 email: hrs@afgj.org | phone: (202) 540-8336 ext. 603