19 Young Activists Changing America

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A vibrant grass-roots progressive movement is winning victories, raising awareness and changing lives in every part of the country, but you might not know that if your main source of information is mainstream media. In the midst of a widening economic divide, a corporate assault on working families’ living standards and the right-wing tea party grip on the Republican Party, millions of Americans are fighting back in their neighborhoods, workplaces and voting booths to challenge the plutocracy and restore democracy.

Many of these efforts have been led by baby boomer veterans of the civil rights, anti-war, women’s rights, consumer safety and environmental movements. But in the past decade, a new generation of activists – born after 1960 – has stepped into leadership. Like the change makers who came before them, these activists know that the radical ideas of one generation are often the common-sense ideas of the next: They are practical idealists.

Who are the young radicals and reformers among us now whose names may not be well-known to the general public, but whose activism is leading the country in a more progressive direction? We have collected a sampling here and would love to hear about other activists you would add to the list.

  • North Carolina NAACP
  • People United for Sustainable Housing
  • Coalition of Immokalee Workers
  • Center for Community Change
  • Battleground Texas
  • L.A. Alliance for a New Economy
  • International Union League for Brand Responsibility
  • Green For All
  • United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers Union
  • National People’s Action
  • Jobs With Justice and Caring Across Generations
  • New York City Council
  • Indigenous Environment Network
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance
  • Health Care for America Now
  • Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
  • Making Change at Wal-Mart
  • Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

Peter Dreier teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. His latest book is The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame (Nation Books, 2012).
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