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 leadership and organizations spearheading movements for human rights in the U.S.

As Lucy Parsons once said, “a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society.” The dominating narrative in mainstream media and academia treats human rights violations as abnormal or isolated incidents, divorcing them from their political and socioeconomic realities. We recognize that the concentration of wealth and power on a global scale is at the root of most human rights violations and that we need to use the tools at our disposal to turn the whitewashing of human rights violations in the U.S. over its head. There’s no better place for us to start than within the heart of Empire, the greatest threat to human rights in the world.

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 at the frontlines of popular struggle and anti-imperialist movements in Latin America and the Carribbean to train and certify a national network of human rights observers at the frontlines of the U.S. grassroots movement.

Centering the lived realities and expertise of grassroots leadership in the American continent, the school envisions a stronger and more unified network of human rights observers organizing their communities to uproot the capitalist, colonialist, patriarchal and imperialist violence waged on our peoples in and outside of U.S. borders.


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