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Mission & vision
The Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School is an initiative to build grassroots solidarity and capacity through the exchange of perspectives, training, skills and infrastructure based in alternative frameworks for understanding and promoting human rights.
While dominating narratives in mainstream media and academia tend to decontextualize human rights violations from their political and socioeconomic realities, we recognize the concentration of wealth and power on a global scale as foundational to these violations. And while the weaponization of human rights as a political talking point remains one of the most effective tools of subjugation and oppression, we also recognize the reclamation and defense of human rights to be an equally powerful tool for the advancement of struggles for liberation.
Centering the lived realities, curriculum, expertise and activist tools of grassroots leadership in the American continent, the school envisions a stronger and more unified network of certified 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 Lucy Parsons Popular Human Rights School serves four objectives:
- 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.
- To strengthen communication channels between grassroots organizations through the establishment of a national grassroots human rights reporting network in the U.S.
- To build and maintain collaborative and strategic partnerships connecting grassroots organizations, human rights activists and educational institutions and programs
- To build a stronger and more unified national grassroots network of human rights observers 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