We did it! As one small part of a big movement, Water For Grassroots helped make history this week in Philadelphia, when community organizer and Working Families Party candidate Kendra Brooks won a seat on the Philadelphia City Council. Come to our next meeting, on Monday, Dec. 2, to celebrate and plan our work for 2020.
In Philadelphia, two of the seven at-large council seats are reserved for minority party candidates, and those two seats have always been held by Republicans. Until now. And this is what making history looks like:
“They said a black single mom from North Philly wasn’t the right person, but we have shown them that we are bigger than them,” said Brooks, a parent activist and organizer for public education, at her victory party in North Philadelphia. “We voted, we organized. We did the damn thing. But that was just the beginning.”
Brooks’ win was made possible by her support from a united front of community-based groups, including the one we worked with, Make The Road Action. For several years, grassroots organizations in Philadelphia have been working to change politics by expanding the electorate. Like reformer Larry Krasner’s election as Philadelphia district attorney in 2017, this week’s victory was made possible by registering new voters and engaging infrequent voters who’d become cynical about politics.
This is not the easy path, and it can be slow and difficult work. It’s not an accident that those who are treated worst by the system face the biggest obstacles in making their voices heard. And when you’re in the field, things don’t always go according to plan. So patience and persistence are required – but damn does it feel good to win!
With 55,000 votes, Brooks led the field of candidates vying for the two minority-party seats. Her WFP running mate, progressive pastor Nicolas O’Rourke from the POWER interfaith organizing network, finished ahead of most of the Republican candidates, but late on election night O’Rourke was edged out in the race for the second seat. So we are now halfway toward making the GOP a third party in the city of Gritty.
Water For Grassroots is proud to have joined this historic effort, with five carpools this fall to canvass with Make the Road Action, and to register new voters. At our next meeting, on Monday, December 2 at 6:15, we’ll review what went well & what didn’t, and talk about our priorities for Pennsylvania in 2020. We’ll also discuss our website for visitors to Florida (which should launch soon), and options for interested activists to take a “working vacation” in Florida this winter, with time for both relaxation & voter registration. The Dec. 2 meeting will be at 104 West 14th Street (by 6th Avenue), on the third floor in Studio E.
You can RSVP by email or on Facebook. See you there!