Maurice Moe Mitchell

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Maurice Moe Mitchell and Dan Cantor


Maurice Moe Mitchell is national director of the Working Families Party.

Background

Maurice Moe Mitchell stalks the stage aggressively, barking lyrics in pointed contrast to his black T-shirt, which reads in bold white letters: “Don’t Shoot.” It’s August 2014, and the socially conscious punk rocker is grieving. Not just because this Afropunk Fest show is his band Cipher’s first in three years after the death of its drummer Danny Bobis, but also because, less than three weeks earlier, the unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown had been shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Maurice is one of those rare people who brings together deep experience with mass social movements, grass-roots neighborhood organizing and electoral strategy,” says Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy.

While others wanted to be firefighters or astronauts, Mitchell knew that he wanted to “transform society.” He was the middle schooler writing essays about communing with the spirit of Malcolm X, inspired by his parents, who were from Grenada and Trinidad. Mitchell’s parents saw their own countries go through moments of intense political upheaval while growing up in the mid-20th century.

“We were immigrants in America, and we had a sense of pride for the freedom struggle in America but also the freedom struggle in Africa and the Caribbean,” the 39-year-old says, noting that he has been on a singular path toward enacting meaningful change since a very young age (for instance, Mitchell lives a drug-free and vegan lifestyle, and his lyrics are rife with references to feminism and animal rights, which you don’t often find in punk rock).[1]

Working Families Party

In April 2018 the Working Families Party, a progressive political political party that is active in 19 states, just announced that its longtime national director, Dan Cantor, has been succeeded in the role by Maurice Moe Mitchell, The first black person to hold the post, Mitchell has two decades of experience in political and community organizing. Mitchell has been a prominent leader in the Movement for Black Lives, the global network behind the Black Lives Matter movement. Most recently, he co-founded Blackbird, a movement-building organization that offers communications services and has worked closely with Black Lives Matter Global Network.

The Working Families Party has expanded greatly over the past two years. We’re currently in 19 states and growing. I want to grow in areas where working-class people of every race need a real political home and haven’t found satisfactory political homes in the Democratic Party specifically, but in either of the parties. That means going to places that are not considered “progressive communities,” but places where our people are and engaging them in bread-and-butter issues that relate to their lived experience..[2]

Only the second national director in the WFP’s two-decade existence, Mitchell has arrived at a pivotal moment. After operating mostly on the fringes of left-leaning politics, the party saw nearly two-thirds of its 1,036 endorsed candidates win state and local offices in 2017. Buoyed by a renewed interest in alternative candidates, as evidenced in the success of Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right, Mitchell led a midterm cycle with some notable wins — defeating conservative Democratic incumbents in New Mexico, Rhode Island and Maryland and contributing to candidates who ended Republican control of the Colorado Senate. Under his leadership, the WFP joined other progressive groups in helping flip the U.S. House of Representatives while supporting insurgent Democrats such as Antonio Delgado in New York and Jahana Hayes in Connecticut.

Perhaps his biggest victory was the party’s work to overthrow the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) in the New York Senate, eight renegade incumbents who had swung the upper chamber right by caucusing with Republicans. Within a month after the 2016 election, WFP activists were organizing in the districts of the Republican-allied Democrats, talking to voters and releasing a “Resistance Agenda” that became a blueprint for the insurgents the party helped recruit and staff. They were aided by the gubernatorial campaign launched by WFP-endorsed Cynthia Nixon who, despite losing by nearly 30 percentage points in the Democratic primary, forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his allies to spend heavily on attack ads rather than on defending the IDC candidates. “She was the recipient of $30 million in negative spending,” says Joe Dinkin, the WFP national campaigns and communications director, “and we ultimately won in six of the eight IDC races.”

While other organizations receive flashy accolades for endorsing ascendant Democrats such as, say, Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams (which, to be fair, the WFP also did), the party is much more focused on the quiet, down-ballot races that lead to change down the line. It helped build the early political careers of New York Attorney General Letitia James (the first African-American and first woman to hold the post) and 32-year-old Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. In June, the party sprang an upset with another rising star, when WFP-endorsed public defender Tiffany Caban, 31, won the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney.[3]

FUREE

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Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE), July 19, 2013;

With Rusia Mohiuddin, Betty Yu, Numi Dee, Krysten Brown-Green, Jumaane D. Williams, Hasan Salaam, Eric Valentin, Jr., Jessica Alfreds, Carrie Gleason, John M. Blasco, Laurie Cumbo, Wanda Imasuen, Irini Neofotistos, Bryan K. Echols, Lynn Lewis, Fahd Ahmed, Joan Gibbs, Andrea Nelson, Lucas Shapiro, Tenelle Breukelen, Peter Hardie, Mo Meazy George, Marquis Jenkins, Imani Henry, Jack Aponte, Tamara Czyzyk, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Lumumba Bandele, Pamela Hamilton-Brown, Colleen Vincent, Tony Herbert, Cyril Innis, Jr., Jelani Likeitis Mashariki, Fernando Carlo, Lisa Ortega, Shawne Lee, Nathalie Alegre Velarde, Lyrik Tehuti, Fly Guy Yoshi, Kazembe Balagun, Eman Rimawi, Mw Payne, Orlando Green, Nichi Floetic Valentino, Ilana Berger, Byron Hurt and Malik Abu Khalid.

Stand Up Louisville

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April Taylor July 29, 2015; With Jonathan Lykes, Charlene Carruthers, Ashley Yates, Chaz Briscoe, Osagyefo Sekou, Della V. Mosley, Temperance Brennen, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar, Jacqui Bolden, Ash-Lee Henderson, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Erika Totten, Chanelle Helm, De Nichols, Jacqui Germain, Tara Pruitt, Ashley B. Sunshine, Alisha Sonnier, Malkia Cyril, Enchanta Ma'at Jackson, Ashe Helm-Hernandez, Opal Ayo, Sistufara W. Muhammad, Stand Up Sunday- Stand Up Louisville and Stop Mass Incarceration Network KY.

1st Anniversary of the #Ferguson Uprising

Maurice Moe Mitchell August 5, 2015,

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  1. UnitedWeFight: 1st Anniversary of the #Ferguson Uprising - National Conference Call. Thurs. 8PM EST / 7PM CST Register at http://bit.ly/uwfcall — with Justin Hansford, Scott A. Roberts, Mary Hooks, Kayla M. Reed, Diamond Latchison, Kareem Jackson, Bukky Gbadegesin, Katrina Gamble, Tanya Lucia Bernard, Tory Russell, Cedric Lawson, Alicia Garza, Leslie Mac, Charlene Carruthers, Patrisse Cullors, Cherrell Brown, Dante Barry, Waltrina Middleton, Damon Turner, Marbre Stahly-Butts, Ash-Lee Henderson, Damon Davis, Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Mari Morales-Williams, Mervyn Marcano, Nicole Lee, Elandria Williams, Opal Ayo, Jonathan Pulphus, Dara Cooper, Michael McBride, Umi Selah, Osagyefo Sekou, Tara Tee, Rose Berry, Sistufara W. Muhammad, Purvi Shah, Cid Nichols, Ingrid Benedict, Jade Ogunnaike, James Hayes, Anita Nichole, Joe Worthy and The Movement for Black Lives.

Vision 4 Black Lives

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Karl Kumodzi, Mervyn Marcano, Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Montague Simmons, Zakiya Scott, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Dara Cooper, Ash-Lee Henderson, Morathi Adams and Marbre Stahly-Butts, Facebook, August 1, 2016.

SURJ Accountability Council

The Accountability Council is designed to engage leaders of color who offer feedback and counsel on SURJ's strategy, organizing and political direction.

Showing Up for Racial Justice Accountability Council as of 2015;[4]

FRSO friendly

Maria C. Fernandez November 8, 2015 near Washington ·

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With Allison Thompson, Marcia Olivo, Ashli Bolden, Sendolo Diaminah, Jennifer Toles, Trina Greene Brown, Nikki MG Cole, Denise Perry, Denise Diaz, Toussaint Losier, MamaLisa Thomas-Adeyemo, Mark-Anthony Clayton-Johnson, Nicole Newman, Adrienne Maree Brown, Chigozirim Ugonna, Kesi Bem Foster, Dara Cooper, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Alta Starr and Beatriz Beckford.

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 Maurice Moe Mitchell.[5]

EJP founders

Jessica Byrd October 10, 2017 ·

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This is the brand spanking new Electoral Justice Table of the Movement for Black Lives (+ a few missing others).

We've been building a Blackity Black program that loves Black people, will support our Movement orgs with technical support, and intends to WIN everywhere our families live.

We're going to tell you about it in exactly one week. Ya'll ready for Electoral Justice?

Cc: Everybody rooting for everybody Black. — with Brianna Pope, Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Rukia Lumumba, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Chelsea Fuller and Kayla M. Reed.

Election forum

Hudson Valley Democratic Socialists October 31 2018:

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The election is over, now what? To answer this question, Hudson Valley DSA will host a forum assessing the outcome of the election and how the left can make a political impact over the next two years. Our chapter member Peter Frase will moderate a panel featuring:

Politics doesn’t begin and end on Election Day. To effectively organize for change, we need to know how and where to focus our efforts. If you’re ready to make change happen, this a forum you won’t want to miss!

The forum will be held at Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center from 11 am - 1 pm on Saturday, November, 10th. Attendance is open to anyone who shares DSA’s vision to build a New York for the many — not the few.

Doors open at 10:30 and guests are encouraged to arrive no later than 10:45 to assure seating.

For those who wish to join, a canvass promoting Medicare for all will be held afterward.

"Black love"

Denise Diaz December 14, 2015:

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The force of Black love is real! — with Maurice Moe Mitchell, Jennifer Toles, Beatriz Beckford, Marcia Olivo and Ashli Bolden. that inspires us to turn towards each other and win for the long term.

New Mexico connection

Maurice Moe Mitchell August 13 2018:

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Excited to engage a packed house at OLE NewMexico, one of our Working Families Party affiliates to discuss how we organize a new sort of politics that inspires us to turn towards each other and win for the long term. — with JD Mathews, Rey Garduno, Javier Benavidez, Deb Haaland, Laurie Weahkee, Eric Shimamoto, Flora Lucero and Felice Garcia.

Beyond Bernie

Beyond Bernie: Electoral Strategy for an Independent Left

April 2019 Organizing Upgrade pulled together leaders and activists from many of the most important movements of the left electoral upsurge to discuss both short- and long-term electoral strategy. The recent resurgence of electoral engagement amongst the social movement and party left in the US is inspiring and full of potential, but still lacks a shared strategy across the groups leading the charge. Moving past the mainstream media focus on the presidential horserace, we talk to organizers on the front lines about the current state of this movement sector, and critical interventions that independent left organizers can make to move this work forward.

The strategy session included*:

The discussion was moderated by Rishi Awatramani and Linda Burnham.[6]

WFP comrades

Sarah Ganong July 11 2019·

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We're gonna win, y'all. Text WFP to 738674 to join us. — with Taylor Biniarz, Lindsay Farrell, Zack Campbell, Ol Dhrupad, Carlos Cienfuegos Moreno, Biola Jeje, Maurice Moe Mitchell, Kristin Burgess, Luis G. Luna, Mike Merli and Roger Senserrich.

References