Photo of a group of people on the steps of a government building and holding peace signs.

Everyone is an Organizer

This blog post is from Heather Fleming, Director of Missouri Equity Education Partnership – a Unite Against Book Bans partner.

I’m an English teacher.

That’s what I told myself and others for five years as I began working to make my community and state a better, more equitable place to live. Even after founding the Missouri Equity Education Partnership, I spoke in front of our state legislators and pronounced that I was “just an English teacher.”

It took me five years to arrive at the understanding that although teaching gave me some essential tools that prepared me for this work, I am an organizer. My driving purpose has been to teach and empower others to step into their role as organizers, too. As part of my work with Unite Against Book Bans, I hope to encourage others to embrace this potential in themselves.

When people tell me that they don’t know if they can be an organizer, I ask if they have the ability to do any of the following:

  • Create goals
  • Think about action steps to achieve those goals
  • Work with others collaboratively toward a common goal
  • Explain directions well to others
  • Accept constructive feedback
  • Collect and analyze data
  • Think critically about complex issues

Many times, their answer is yes to enough of those traits that they begin realizing they can use those skills to effectuate change in their communities. At this challenging point in our history, individuals willing to step up and use these skills are exactly what we need. We must address the challenges we face—not just book bans but anti diversity, equity, and inclusion policies; attempts to whitewash history; anti-LGBTQ+ laws; the removal of reproductive rights and affirmative action; and so much more. We need more people working together to ensure the future of our democracy. We need YOU.

So the next time you are faced with book bans— or anything else that will negatively impact your family, friends, and neighbors— remember that you have all that you need to become an organizer and advocate. Don’t forget to visit the Unite Against Book Bans Action Toolkit for resources to support your efforts.

Featured Image: Organizers at Missouri Equity Education Partnership Lobby Day 2022. Photo: Philip Deitch