Gihan Perera

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Gihan Perera


Gihan Perera is co-founder and Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center. Gihan is also one of the co-founders of the Right to the City – a national alliance of over 30 grassroots organizations, legal service providers, academics and policy groups seeking alternatives to gentrification and urban displacement of poor and working class communities of color. He is a nationally recognized progressive movement leader, organizer, and strategist. He frequently speaks at conferences and on the radio, and he has been published in both local and national media outlets. Gihan Perera sits on the Advisory Committee of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, and the Board of Directors of MWC, Gihan worked in the labor movement as a lead organizer throughout the South with ACTWO and as the recruitment director for the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute.[1]

Activism

Gihan Perera began his activism as a student in high school in Los Angeles and then at UC Berkeley. While organizing against the first Gulf War, Perera hosted a radio program on a local station melding his passion for social and racial justice and music. In 1999, together with Tony Romano, he founded the Miami Workers Center (MWC), a dynamic organization which plays a leading role locally and nationally in the social justice movement. MWC uses a variety of strategies from community organizing, leadership development programs, strategic communications, electoral efforts, and coalition building to develop on-the-ground power in South Florida. The center has also become a national peer anchor to a number of strategic initiatives including the US Social Forum, the Right to the City Alliance, and a number of other efforts to build the theory, practice, and capacity of work happening at the intersection of race, gender, the economy, and the environment.[2]

My uncle and aunt were political; I used to roll with them when I was five. I started a peace and justice club in high school in 1986. I grew up in Southern California and went to Berkeley from 1988-1992 I had heard and imagined that Berkeley was where the activists were; even though I didn’t quite know what that meant. I did college radio and student activism. I took African history and got my consciousness sparked to another level. Then the first gulf war happened, and changed my life forever. [3]

Prior to founding the MWC, he was a union organizer, leading campaigns in Miami and South and North Carolina for seven years, with Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). He was also a trainer and west coast recruitment director for the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute and in early 2007, Gihan co-founded the Right to the City Alliance. RTTC is a growing national alliance which now has of over 50 grassroots organizations, legal service providers, academics and policy organizations in 8 cities. The alliance is utilizing the Right to the City frame to forge an urban human rights agenda to win racial justice, participatory democracy, and systemic policy and institutional change.

Gihan Perera frequently speaks at conferences and on the radio and continues to have his writings and speeches published and quoted in both local and national media outlets including the Miami Herald and TIME magazine.[4]

Wellstone testimonial

Every legit organizer, every legit campaign manager’s claim to fame is their Wellstone credentials: I was trained by Wellstone. So when I met folks at Wellstone it was like going behind the curtain and meeting the wizard.

Second Chances/NFM connection

Tim Heberlein January 26, 2016:

A great team supporting Second Chances!

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To support Second Chances go to FloridiansforaFairDemocracy.org — with Serena Perez, Curtis Hierro, Eric Brakken, Lolalegriamaria Rodz, Stephanie Porta, Gihan Perera and Desmond Meade at The New Florida Majority.

Right to the City

Gilda Haas, Gihan Perera and Jon Liss, conceived of the Right to the City Alliance.[6]

RTTC Regional Contacts 2014

Right to the City Regional Contacts 2014.

National Leading From the Inside Out Alum

Gihan Perera, Miami Workers Center, was a 2005 Rockwood Leadership Institute National Leading From the Inside Out Alum.[8]

Miami comrades

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Sarai Portillo November 2005;

My first pininos organizing a community event centuries ago almost 9 years ago... after meeting rent - tired but happy of the outcome... how time flies...
— with Sushma Sh, Tony Romano, Joseph Phelan, Cindy Wiesner and Gihan Perera in Miami, Florida.

Right to the City leadership

In 2010 Right to the City gave thanks and appreciation to the hard work of outgoing Steering Committee members: Denise Perry, Dawn Phillips, and Rickke Mananzala. At the 2010 U.S. Social Forum, the membership elected a new Steering Committee, consisting of: Anita Sinha, Advancement Project; Jon Liss, Tenants and Workers United/New Virginia Majority; Kalila Barnett, Alternatives for Community and Environment; Alicia Garza, POWER; Mark Swier, Mothers On The Move; Eileen Ma, Korean Immigrant Workers Association; Yvette Thierry, Safe Streets Strong Communities; Gihan Perera, Miami Workers Center/Florida New Majority; and Leonardo Vilchis, Union De Vecinos.[9]

Left Forum 2009

Left Strategy from the Grassroots:

"How to Organize a City"

How to Organize a City: Bill Fletcher, Jr., Jon Liss, and Gihan Perera in conversation, Thursday, April 25, 2013 from 6.30 – 8.30 pm in the Recital Hall - The Graduate Center, CUNY. Free and open to the public.

How can urban social movements cohere with existing institutions of power, from unions to local government? As importantly, how can movements collaborate with each other to achieve broader, systemic changes? Can these movements and political projects realistically be anti-capitalist? Activists and leaders Bill Fletcher, Jon Liss, and Gihan Perera will discuss these issues in an open forum.

Moderated by David Harvey, Director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.[10]

"Progressive hero"

Gihan Perera was honored alongside Senator Elizabeth Warren by Wellstone Action on September 18th 2013 in Washington DC. Perera serves as Executive Director of New Florida Majority, and is being recognized for being national progressive hero.

“We are thrilled to see Gihan receive this important national recognition at this time,” FNM co-founder and Board Chair Maria Rodriguez wrote in an email to supporters. “This is a well-deserved award that acknowledges Gihan’s work as foundational, not just for Florida and the South, but for our country. Gihan’s recent work is grounded in social movements but reclaims the need for electoral power to enliven democracy and fundamentally reshape the participation, makeup, and impact of the electorate. As my co-founder, thought partner, power builder, movement maker, and deep friend, Gihan is always way ahead of the moment with a bold vision, impressive stamina, and loving courage to take the risks that deliver progress for those of us who need it most. His leadership comes not just from seeing what is possible, but making it happen.”[11]

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September 18, 2013 Contact: Sara Beth Mueller.

Senator Elizabeth Warren Honored with Paul Wellstone Award for Political Leadership, New Florida Majority’s Executive Director, Gihan Perera, to Receive Wellstone Award for Movement Building

Washington, D.C. — Senator Elizabeth Warren will receive the Paul Wellstone Award for Political Leadership. The first of its kind, Senator Warren will accept this award from Wellstone Action tonight, at an event honoring Wellstone Action’s 10th Birthday at the headquarters of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Senator Warren is being honored for her work, as Paul Wellstone liked to say, on behalf of the “little fellers.” From her work to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to her insistence on holding Wall Street banks and other financial institutions accountable, to her commitment to protecting middle-class families, Senator Warren embodies and champions a people-first politics that would have made Paul Wellstone proud.
At the event, Wellstone Action will also honor Gihan Perera, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Florida New Majority, with the Wellstone Award for Movement Building. In partnership with Wellstone Action, and with SEIU, Perera and Florida New Majority are transforming Florida’s infrastructure, creating a statewide, grassroots movement that leverages the power of elections to build long-term power and ignite the electorate in the Sunshine State.[12]

Black voters

Aired on November 04 , 2014, Eric Mann holds a conversation with Phillip Agnew of Dream Defenders and Gihan Perera of New Florida Majority to discuss the political state of people of color as it relates to the election process. Some of the topics discussed are, voter suppression tactics and laws that are and have been pushed through legislation by right wing agents, black and brown unity, and building a united front against the extreme right.[13]

Unity call

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The New Florida Majority, November 2, 2014;

Senators Dwight Bullard and Chris Smith join Phillip Agnew, Alphonso Mayfield, Gihan Perera, Katia St. Fleur, Maria Rodriquez, and Desmond Meade for a unity call this evening. #BlackVotesMatter or #UNITYcall to join the conversation on Twitter.

Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity Advisory Board/2015

Miami Workers Center supporters

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Miami Workers Center - Tomorrow is #GiveMiamiDay! Now more than ever we need your contribution so we can keep working in 2017 to demand local policies that protect Miami's women, girls and femmes.

We need you! Starting tonight at midnight, please consider giving to the Miami Workers Center here: — with Nilu Choudhury, Tomas Kennedy, Cindy Wiesner, Julia Dawson, Serena Perez, Luisana Perez-Fernandez, Karla De Anda, Julia Daniel, Kathy Bird Carvajal, Gihan Perera, Hashim Benford, Marcia Olivo, Sarai Portillo, Camilo Mejia, Maria Rodriguez, Andrea Mercado, Daniela Saczek, Carla Hansack, Maria Asuncion Bilbao, Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, Trenise Bryant, Natalia Jaramillo, Viviana Ivalo, Miami Girls Foundation and Move to End Violence.

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those invited, on Facebook included Gihan Perera.[15]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward

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Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

Those invited, on Facebook included Gihan Perera.[16]

Ford Foundation

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In early 2017 Gihan Perera became a program director at the Ford Foundation.

Supporting Gillum

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The New Florida Majority, April 27 2017.

With Gihan Perera, Valencia Gunder, Andrew Gillum, Renee Mowatt and Dwight Bullard.

Early days of Occupy Miami

In an effort to make sure their message is heard, organizers have scheduled a press conference for 10:30 a.m. They’re also planning a concert at the encampment Monday evening. This is one of several protests going on around Florida and the world to call attention to what they call financial and social inequality.

Those are the very issues that brought Gihan Perera, director of the Miami Workers Center, to the protest to show his support.

“The message that these young people have and the people that are out here and the people of the Occupy movement is something that we’ve been facing in Liberty City and the poor sections of the community for years and years,” said Perera.

The Occupy Miami event began at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre. By 2 p.m. approximately 400 participants were in attendance. Later in the day hundreds turned to a thousand and the group marched to the Government Center in Downtown Miami.

About 30 participants, who took part in Saturday’s rally, camped out overnight and rallied again on a soggy Sunday.

JoHanna Thompson set up a tent for herself and her two daughters.

“I understand that the banks and the government are giving money to their bosses who make millions and millions of dollars,” said 10-year old Jazz Thompson.

JoHanna Thompson said she hopes this will be a real learning experience for her children.

“I want them one to be able to experience what democracy looks like but I also have two young ladies coming up in America right now so I really do want them to be empowered,” said Thompson.

About 300 people took part in an Occupy Ft. Lauderdale march on Saturday and more than 1,500 people took part in an Occupy Orlando protest. [17]

References