Advancing justice for Black people
Bringing corporate campaigning tools to advance justice for Black people
In May, Black staff members of Corporate Accountability wrote: “Corporations, government, and agents of oppression have continually profited from, tested on, consumed, exploited, harmed, disenfranchised, and forgotten Black people, Black communities, and Blackness.” As a campaigning organization with more than 40 years of experience, Corporate Accountability has the tools and resources to impact the corporations that harm Black communities directly—and it is way past time for us to engage more fully in doing so. To that end, there are “three critical areas where we think that our organizing model, resources, partners, and staff could best support Black communities,” they wrote. These areas are education, police violence, and reparations. In the coming years, we will partner with allies around the country to support these critical issues.
This statement was developed by the Corporate Accountability Black Collective, a group of Black-identified staff leading the development of the organization’s work to advance racial justice in the U.S. During and following the uprisings for Black lives in 2020, Corporate Accountability focused on racial justice in a new way. For several years before that, we had been working on racial equity internally. We saw that we hadn’t in fact been the best partners to Black-led organizations and knew we had to take steps to be true partners and not performative allies. So we took up the work to do more externally in the U.S. context while continuing our internal work, centering and following the leadership of Black staff and allies.
“Liberation for Black people will never come from white institutions, it has and will continue to be shaped and driven through the self-determination of Black people and communities. I am happy to have been part of the moment where Corporate Accountability stated its purpose to step up to support, step back to listen, and to create more moments to sit with Black leaders to shape a movement for corporate accountability AND racial justice.”
MICHÉL LEGENDRE, CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR, WORTH RISES
The Corporate Accountability Black Collective included Akili, a veteran organizer who has been involved with Corporate Accountability since the 1990s; Ann-Michelle Roberts, a senior major gifts organizer who has met with more than 200 members over the course of her three-year tenure at Corporate Accountability; and Michél Legendre, longtime campaigner at the organization and campaign director on the tobacco campaign and now a campaigns director with Worth Rises. Akili, Roberts, and Legendre worked together to identify these three key areas of focus and draft the public statement. They were supported by the leadership of the organization, including Executive Director Patti Lynn and the board of directors in advancing the work.
As Roberts put it, “We made this statement to help move necessary work forward for our organization. This is a public measure of accountability as we deepen our work to partner with and support Black leadership” in these three areas. Since the release of the statement, the The Corporate Accountability Black Collective has been working to create and deepen relationships with Black-led allies who have expertise in these areas, and learn from them.
On the issue of reparations for example, we are working closely with the Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW21). IBW21 “is committed to enhancing the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. and globally to achieve cultural, social, economic, and political equality and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.” Corporate Accountability has worked with IBW21 for several years on the issue of water, connecting the work of Black water justice organizers in the U.S., including Flint, with water justice organizers in Nigeria and other African countries.
Over the next two years, we will partner with IBW21 and other Black-led organizations, prioritizing accountability and right relationships across the board as we engage more deeply in campaigning to advance justice for Black people.
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