THE VISTA: April 2024

During the month of April, the Horizons team has been inspired by all the analysis and resources being put out to support effective movement building. Check out this research by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on the importance of pro-democracy movements crossing ideological divides to challenge illiberal leaders who continue to degrade democracy around the world. You can read guidance like this one from Forward Together on making movements irresistible through (healthy) partnerships with artists; the particular role that women are playing within pro-democracy movement building in the United States; recommendations for intermediary funds that come from movements to help philanthropy reduce barriers to funding movements directly; and, don’t miss this important report about the relationship between movement building and philanthropic spaces, dealing with uncertainty and the value of having uncomfortable conversations. Also, the Feminist Peace Summit is kicking off in May and registration is open!

At Horizons, we continue to reflect on the relationship between Race and Democracy, and appreciated this recent piece on the fact that a multiracial democracy in the United States requires racial repair. Check out our second Sensemaking with Horizons Video interview with Jeanine Abrams McLean, the President of Fair Count probing the distinctions between “pro-democracy” work and/or “racial justice” work. And you can re-watch Chief Organizer, Maria Stephan’s presentation on the critical struggle for multi-racial democracy in the US and globally at a recent Forum at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

Please enjoy some of the other resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to in April:

READING

Calling People Forward Instead of Out: Ten Essential Steps
by Justin Michael Williams and Shelly Tygielski

“Calling forward is a model of communication that [the authors] coined several years ago that flips the idea of “calling out” and “calling in” on its head, turning it into something more effective for bringing people together and ending racism. While “calling out” or “calling in” is fighting against what someone did wrong, calling forward is an invitation to be something greater. While calling out/in is fighting against what we hate, calling forward is building upon what we love. Calling forward is inviting people into a greater state of integration and evolution. Calling forward opens the door to real transformation, and we’ve found that the outcome—although not always immediate—is often surprising… Use the “Ten Essential Steps to Calling Forward” the next time you need to have a difficult conversation—specifically, when you want to address someone having contributed to the perpetuation of prejudice, discrimination, racism, or othering. Stand in the center of what you believe: that racism can and will end, and that you yourself have the power to end it. Calling forward is a skill we all have the capacity to learn. It starts with you.”

Communication is Sacred by Nora Bateson: Why change happens in the spaces between us
by Alexander Beiner and Nora Bateson

“How do you think about change if not in linear strategies? You tend to the relationships…The trap of trying to confront fascism is that it grows stronger with polarity, and the problem with not confronting fascism is that it grows stronger when it is not met with resistance. So, what can be done? Rallying against a group that believes themselves to be superior further ignites a sense of righteousness to their polarity. But without counteraction the momentum of the hateful cause grows deeper and wider into communities, demanding more loyalty, and more exclusion. Most attempts to stop fascism seem only to generate it…when any aspect of a living system is torn from its contextual relationships, it can then be exploited. How a description is made of a person, a family, a community, a culture, or an ecosystem –matters. Does the description hold the complexity, or does the description sever the relational connections? The more relational, contextual understanding there is, the less likely polarities are to take over.” 

Ministry of Imagination
by Rob Hopkins (Harvested from guests from the From What If to What’s Next podcast.)

“The rise of the far-right around the world is profoundly troubling, underpinned as it is by dystopian visions of the future and the need for ‘strong’ leaders to protect us from those futures. But what would a Manifesto look like that was based on a positive vision of the future, one that is appropriately ambitious to the scale of the challenges the world is facing while at the same time bold, imaginative and audacious? …. the failure of [movements] to set out bold visions of the future has left the space for the far right to fill, and that getting better at bringing positive futures alive in people’s imaginations is vital.” You can download the Manifesto here.

WATCHING

The Politics of Disavowal: What Syria Can Tell Us about American Authoritarianism
The Crown Center for Middle East Studies, Brandeis University

“Can the survival of Bashar al-Asad’s regime in Syria offer insights into emerging forms of authoritarianism in the West? And what might the Syrian example suggest about how authoritarian leaders exploit digital media to create uncertainty, political impasses, and fractures among their citizens? In this Crown Seminar, Lisa Wedeen, in conversation with Daniel Neep, draws on the findings of her book, “Authoritarian Apprehensions: Ideology, Judgment, and Mourning in Syria,” to reflect on lessons from the Syrian experience for the current attractions of authoritarianism in the United States.

Mapping the Future. The Role of Art in Social Change
The Skoll World Forum

“Art is a powerful tool for social change. It can challenge norms, foster empathy, and even spark movements. [During this session at the recent Skoll World Forum, the panel] explored how art can also serve as a wayfinding tool to unveil challenges, reflect progress, and chart a course toward a collective future we may not have envisioned yet. Whether you’re an artist or simply looking to expand your tool kit toward social change, check out this visually rich session to immerse yourself in the role art plays in mapping the future, navigating complex challenges, and driving social change.” You can watch all of the great sessions from the 2024 Skoll World Forum that are now available on their YouTube channel.

Disarming disinformation: how leading international editors are responding to information pollution
International Journalism Festival

You can re-watch this panel discussion that presents important insights from the new global research project Disarming Disinformation, the result of researchers embedded in multiple international newsrooms to study their responses to information pollution in the context of looming elections. “2024 is recognised as [a] pivotal year for democracy in dozens of countries and the function of independent journalism in securing and popularising facts, and scrutinsing elections, is pivotal…The Disarming Disinformation project is studying editorial responses to disinformation anchored in five countries: the US, the Philippines, Brazil, South Africa and Georgia. Lead researcher Julie Posetti is joined by four editors participating in the project to discuss their insights and experiences, among them is Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, who has warned that “In 2024, democracy could fall off a cliff.” Organized in association with the International Center for Journalists.

LISTENING TO

Our Story of Nature, From Rupture to Reconnection
Outrage + Optimism podcast

As we celebrated Earth Day this month, enjoy this unedited conversation with award-winning Krista Tippett, host of On Being. “Take a moment to relax and immerse yourself in this expansive and inspiring dialogue. Krista opens up about her personal thoughts, feelings, and experiences with nature, offering a fresh perspective that’s sure to leave a lasting impact. Get ready to see the natural world in a whole new light after tuning in.”

Polarisation, Political Violence and the U.S. Elections
Ripple Effect podcast by the International Crisis Group

“In this episode [Rachel Kleinfeld], senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, talks about the state of U.S. democracy and the risk of political violence as the U.S. heads toward the November elections. During the conversation, they break down how we should understand polarization in U.S. society. [They] assess the potential risk factors that could contribute to political violence in the run-up and aftermath of the November elections and how they compare to the 2020 elections…They also talk about what politicians on both sides of the aisle can do to mitigate the risk of political violence in the near term.” You can also read a new article from Rachel on Democratization and De-escalation here.

Can “The Commons” Bring Philanthropy Together?
Keeping PACE with Kristen podcast

Kristen Cambell interviews Drew Lindsay of The Chronicle of Philanthropy about the launch of The Commons, a digital space to explore how America’s nonprofits and foundations are working to heal the nation’s divides and build community. They are “looking at how the country is splintered along political lines but also by income, race, geography, culture, and more — division that can threaten progress and even the nation’s stability. The new project is named The Commons to reflect their goal to create a home where people come together to learn, share ideas, and gain new perspective.”

POP CULTURE CORNER

Civil War is Coming to America
by Kristen Grimm

Have you seen the new movie Civil War by writer/director Alex Garland? Check out this article by Kristen at Spitfire Strategies. “…see it for yourself so that when you are talking about it, you know what you are talking about. Mind you, many of the people you may talk about this with may or may not have done the same, relying on social media posts to fuel their opinions.” Kristen offers some very helpful advice about how to engage with this movie and shape the conversation it spurs. Most importantly she recommends offering concrete actions to avoid this future reality with some links to organizations and resources.

Sensemaking with Horizons: Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean, President of Fair Count

As a part of Horizons’ Sensemaking Series on Race & Democracy, we invited the President of Fair Count, Dr. Jeanine Abrams McLean, to discuss their work as a non-partisan, non-profit organization “dedicated to partnering with Historically Undercounted Populations (HUP) communities to achieve a fair and accurate count of all people in Georgia and the nation in the 2030 Census, and to strengthening the pathways to greater civic participation.” Horizons’ Director for Race & Democracy, Jarvis Williams, probes with Jeanine the question of defining this kind of work as “pro-democracy” and/or “racial justice” in service of building partnerships, securing funding and ultimately responding to the communities most in need of having their voices listened to and their votes count.

Find out more about Horizons’ approach to Race & Democracy here.

How you can more effectively advance multi-racial democracy

On March 3, 2024, Maria J. Stephan, co-lead of the Horizons Project, discussed her work to strengthen multi-racial democracy in the US and globally to the Forum at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church. Since 1943 the Forum has served as a platform for discussing significant issues especially those involving ethical values in the Contemporary World. The full interview is embedded below. You can find and edited version with links to resources mentioned in the interview that was broadcast on 90.1 KKFI FM on their website as well as an exerpt on the Effectiveness of Nonviolence on Soundcloud.

THE VISTA: March 2024

In March, we celebrate the “radical roots” of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month in the US. Many are reflecting that 2024 is a big year for women and democracy around the world, and find inspiration in the stories and lessons of women mobilizing within democracy movements globally. It’s important to make the linkages between anti-feminism and anti-democratic developments as outlined in this new report on Strongmen and Violence. We appreciate this School of International Futures’ honoring of the archetypal heroine’s journey both in the past and those blazing a new future. And, don’t miss the recently released Feminist Influencing Basket of Resources from Oxfam that offers practical tools based in radical healing, love, and care to shift dominant narratives and strengthen our movements. If you didn’t get to attend in person or virtually, you can watch Maria J. Stephan, Horizons’ Chief Organizer’s recent presentation at MWEG’s (Mormon Women for Ethical Government) national conference on Women Power: How Nonviolent Action Can Build Just and Peaceful Democracies.

We continue to be inspired by organizations like Keseb helping us learn from global pro-democracy champions, especially when US organizers and their counterparts come together to reflect on shared challenges such as this great overview of key insights from Hungary. Recognizing why the far right in the US is drawn to anti-democratic leaders like Viktor Orban is important, and as Rachel Kleinfeld recently wrote, we must continue to connect the dots on how and why civic space is closing in the US and around the world. Horizons believes it’s also important to draw lessons from the past, for example successful efforts to fight Nazi disinformation campaigns in the UK as we continue to struggle with the information environment described by Secretary Blinken in his remarks at the third Summit for Democracy in South Korea this month.

Finally, Horizons continues to be seized with the dampening effects of threats and political violence on US democracy in this election cycle and beyond, and we are collaborating closely with the 22nd Century Initiative, Hardy Merriman, and many other partners to develop a training program focused on how communities can mobilize and make threats of PV backfire against perpetrators. (Congratulations to 22CI on their new website which is choc-full of wonderful resources that you should check out). Using threats and intimidation tactics is a key part of the Authoritarian Playbook, so you don’t want to miss the Violence and Democracy Impact Tracker from Protect Democracy and the SNF Agora Institute that calculates the impact of political violence on eight distinct pillars of democracy in the United States. Also, check out the American Autocracy Threat Tracker from Just Security.

Finally, you can hear more from us in this short video about why Horizons created a new Director role for Race and Democracy; read our recent publication on the need to Defend Democracy by Expanding the Agenda; and check out Maria’s article in Sojourners magazine that is now cross-posted on our website, Can Multiracial Democracy Survive?

Enjoy these additional resources that we are reading, watching, and listening to:

READING

Collective Healing for Systems Change: The Evolving Conversation
by Kerry Graham, Collective Change Lab

In 2023, the Collective Change Lab and the Wellbeing Project co-hosted a series of webinars on trauma healing and systems change. Renowned social change leaders shared their perspectives on: Why we as a sector need to integrate a trauma-lens into how we see and interpret the “conditions holding problems in place” as well as how we design solutions; why it’s important to shift the current focus on individual trauma to a much wider frame that takes intergenerational, collective, and historical trauma into account; and, how to integrate collective healing practices into the work of systems change. Regarding intergenerational trauma in particular, this older video from Dr. Joy Degruy on Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is worth taking the time to watch.

Democracy Notes
by Gabriel Lerner

If you haven’t already signed up for the Democracy Notes Substack, you are missing out! Special friend to Horizons, Gabriel Lerner, is curating many helpful resources, including these podcast interviews that offer a summary of recent events such as: a Principles First Summit recap with Scott Warren from SNF Agora Institute and Matt Germer from R Street; a Knight Media Forum recap with Elizabeth Green from Votebeat & Chalkbeat; and S. Mitra Kalita from URL Media; and, a Civic Learning Week recap with Elizabeth Clay Roy from Generation Citizen and Abbie Kaplan from iCivics.

Why Spain is Trusting Trans Teens on their Gender, instead of Restricting Them
by Domique Soguel, Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor has been organizing its coverage of global issues according to values, such as trust, hope, and security amongst many others. This article is just one example of their special project on Rebuilding Trust.Behind every news event are the values that drive people and nations. See how they offer a deeper, clearer understanding of the latest stories, or sort through all our stories by the different values beneath them.” Some of insights raised within this article about Spain: “It’s not that we parents are extra progressive parents who like these things….no, we are normal moms and dads and we want our son to be a son and our daughter to be a daughter. But more than that, we have to be loving people to our children and love has to be above all else.”

The (Identity) Politics of Reparations
by Trevor Smith

Creating lasting and durable change to realize reparations will rely on ‘situating social identity formation as a north star of our strategies’…Just as people identifying as “abolitionists” helped abolish slavery, it will take a critical mass of “reparationists” to achieve reparations. According to David Ragland, co-founder and co-executive director of The Truth Telling Project, there is a difference between what it looks like to show up as a Black reparationist versus a non-Black reparationist. ‘We walk through the world differently and with different levels of threat depending on where we are,’ says Ragland…a power analysis and a deep understanding of how we’ve arrived at this point of racial inequality and racial hierarchy will be crucial in the upcoming years to grow the movement for reparations…true liberation lies in living our lives through these frameworks.” 

WATCHING

What Young Leaders Want – and Don’t Want – from Older Allies
by Cogenerate (formerly Encore.org)

In this short video, you can hear directly from participants who engaged in deep conversations across generational lines to inform the recently launched report: What Young Leaders Want – and Don’t Want – from Older Allies. Some of the key highlights include a reminder that we must forge a personal connection before collaboration; that no one wants to be dismissed because of their age; and that the future of leadership is co-generational! If you’d like to hear more from these impressive young leaders, you can watch the report’s launch webinar here.

Conservative Views on Trump 2.0
Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on PBS

In this live forum, Margaret Hoover sits down with Protect Democracy’s Amanda Carpenter, one of the authors of The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025, and the Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez, one of the contributors to Project 2025. From Protect Democracy’s newsletter, If You Can Keep It, “Two telling insights from the conversation: (1) The “deep state” myth is pervasive. The conceit behind Heritage’s program is that Trump’s first-term agenda was stymied by unelected civil servants (not the rule of law and high-profile Republican appointees, like John Kelly and Mike Pence, who refused to break laws on Trump’s behalf). This feeds into a second, even more dangerous myth that our institutions survived a first term — why would a second be different? Well, the answer is pretty simple: people. The people who put their constitutional oaths before Trump’s orders last time won’t be around next time. Because the Republican Party no longer has room for principled conservatives – who are unwilling to pursue power at any cost.” 

The Indigenous World View | Four Arrows
Entangled World

Four Arrows also known as Wahinkpe Topa or Dr. Don Trent Jacobs is internationally respected for his expertise in Indigeneity and a prolific author, such as his most recent book co-written with Dr. Darcia Narvaez, Restoring the Kinship Worldview: 28 Precepts for Rebalancing Life on Mother Earth. In this episode, Four Arrows explores the Indigenous worldview, non-duality, and origin stories and myths. They talk about anthropocentrism, this idea that humans sit atop the pyramid of life and that everything else on Earth is inferior to and here for humans to use and then discard as they see fit – reflecting that this human-centric worldview lies at the root of our entangled crises and exploring some untraditional ways that worldviews and ultimately culture, might shift.

LISTENING TO

Exploring the Intersection of Information Integrity, Race, and US Elections
The Sunday Show, Tech Policy Press

At INFORMED 2024, the Knight Foundation brought together experts from policy, academia, and civil society for a series of conversations on democracy in the digital age. All the sessions are available for playback here. This conversation on the intersection of information integrity, race, and US elections was also reprised as a podcast that we highly recommend, with Brandi Collins-Dexter, the author of Black Skinhead: Reflections on Blackness and Our Political Future; Dr. Danielle Brown, the founding director of the LIFT project, which is focused on mapping, networking and resourcing, trusted messengers to dismantle mis- and disinformation narratives that circulate in Black communities and about Black communities and Kathryn Peters one of the co-founders of Democracy Works.

Surprising New Findings on Civic Language, Featuring Amy McIsaac
Keeping PACE with Kristen podcast

“In this episode, Amy McIsaac, Managing Director of Learning and Experimentation at Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) talks about new findings from the Civic Language Perception Project, PACE’s long-term study surveying Americans on their perceptions of civic terms. Amy shares what is most surprising from the findings, including the terms that are bringing Americans together and motivating them to action. You can read a brief overview of the findings here; re-watch the report’s launch webinar here; and sign up for some upcoming deep dives into the research on different topics, such as “patriotism” and insights about GenZ.

What Makes Solidarity So Essential and How Could it Become Even More Transformative
The Review of Democracy podcast

Leah Hunt-Hendrix is interviewed about her new book Solidarity. The Past Present, and Future of a World Changing Idea that she co-authored with Astra Taylor. She “describes what makes solidarity so essential to social movements to advance and expand democratic ambitions; explains why philanthropy should be adapted to grassroots movements rather than vice versa; discusses how solidaristic organizing could become more transformative in the future; and reflects on the intellectual historical context of their book.”

Leading Across Great Divides
Masters of Scale podcast

“Just like private companies, many not-for-profit organizations begin when a founder sees a gap in the market and makes something new to fill it. Ian Bassin is a lawyer, former White House counsel and not-for-profit leader who saw a need to better protect and preserve the building blocks of America’s democratic systems, and steer things away from authoritarianism. His organization, Protect Democracy, brings together stakeholders across political divides to develop products, systems and services related to good governance. And Ian’s workforce has been entirely distributed – with employees now in more than 20 states – from the very beginning. Host Jeff Berman draws out Ian’s story of crafting Protect Democracy’s mission alongside its culture. Hear how Ian gained the confidence, political and financial capital to start his work, and how he aligns an all-remote team.”

FOR FUN

Better Together Film Festival

As a part of the 2024 National Week of Conversation, April 15-21, “community spaces across the country will participate in the Better Together Film Festival. Serving as hosting venues for film screenings and follow-up conversations, hundreds of libraries, museums, community centers, churches, colleges, etc. will help bring together diverse groups of people to view films that showcase hopeful stories of bridging divides. Audiences will be invited to engage in facilitated conversations following the screenings. These nonpartisan films were selected for Film Festival because they inspire hope and exemplify how everyday Americans and leaders can find common ground and understanding with each other, despite their differences.” Check out the film titles in the link for more information about each film, including a list of locations where the films will be screened. Register to attend a screening in your community or encourage a local organization to sign up to host a film screening.

Introducing Our Race and Democracy Portfolio

Chief Network Weaver, Julia Roig, and Director for Race & Democracy, Jarvis Williams, have a conversation about why the Horizons Project created this new role and portfolio of work and our goal of supporting partners to break down siloes to place racial equity and racial healing at the center of our pro-democracy organizing. To find out more check out these resources.

Can Multiracial Democracy Survive?

*This article was written by Chief Organizer Maria J. Stephan and was first published on Sojourners.

Racial justice and pro-democracy advocates share a common agenda.

DEMOCRACIES OFTEN DIE by a thousand small cuts. The slide from a robust, if unfinished, democracy to an authoritarian government is incremental and uses inherent weaknesses in a country’s institution and culture. In the U.S., racism has been a core weakness debilitating progress toward a vibrant inclusive democracy, exploited by autocrats to maintain power no matter the cost to human dignity and freedom.

Since 2015, the U.S. democracy score has slid from 92 to 83, according to Freedom House’s global index, lower than any democracy in Western Europe. At a point when pro-democracy and anti-racism movements need to be strongest in the U.S., we find them at odds.

I work in many pro-democracy coalitions committed to political and ideological pluralism where it is challenging to identify the role of white supremacy and Christian nationalism in undermining democratic norms. Conservatives see these as “leftist” issues and moderates fear dividing an already fragile coalition. I also work with political progressives who often see police brutality and mass incarceration as aberrations in a functioning democracy rather than direct attacks on democracy itself, as political scientists Vesla M. Weaver and Gwen Prowse have laid out in their analysis of racial authoritarianism and as Black intellectuals and activists have understood for decades.

Authoritarianism is a system that concentrates wealth and power in a relatively small group of unaccountable people. Authoritarian systems are made up of authoritarian leaders and their institutional enablers, including members of political parties, media outlets, businesses, and religious institutions who provide autocrats with critical sources of social, political, economic, and financial power. Authoritarian systems engage in a range of anti-democratic behaviors to consolidate or expand power, such as weaponizing disinformation, gutting institutional checks on power, subverting free and fair elections, undermining civil liberties, and condoning political violence.

Notwithstanding our country’s powerful founding ideals of liberty and justice for all, both our main political parties are rooted in white supremacy, the historical, cultural, ideological, and institutional practices that benefit white people and disadvantage people of color. Since our country’s founding, there has been a struggle over who is allowed to participate fully as a citizen, particularly through the right to vote. It took the U.S. civil rights movement — the greatest pro-democracy struggle in our history — and the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to establish a legal foundation for inclusive democracy. Only in 1965 did the U.S. achieve full adult suffrage.

But with every advance has come backlash. In the U.S. this has included expanding the state repressive apparatus via policing, mass incarceration, and prison labor, followed by a “war on drugs” aimed at Black and brown communities. The election of our first Black president advanced a multiracial democracy on many fronts, but also activated authoritarian forces ready to exploit America’s racism.

Ex-president Donald Trump became the political vehicle for that vengeance and used the Republican Party to advance an authoritarian agenda. The MAGA faction has now captured the GOP to such an extent that the party, which in earlier eras fought to end slavery, has now abandoned democracy all together. An endemic American authoritarian faction that was once anchored in the Democratic Party in the early 20th century is now dominant in the Republican Party in the 21st century. In both cases the parties built their authoritarian rise around racism.

If racial authoritarianism is a politically ascendant trait in the U.S., what does this mean for the pro-democracy movement?

First, don’t silo strategy on racism away from strategy on democracy and authoritarianism. See them instead as two sides of the same coin. If we are countering polarization and its corrosive effects on U.S. democracy, how does that work address racism as the most virulent form of toxic polarization? If we are working to build resilient institutional democratic norms, are we grappling squarely with how the Electoral College, a relic from the period of slavery, is an impediment to multiracial democracy? Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt confront these structural questions in their new book, Tyranny of the Minority.

Second, talk honestly about how racism and white supremacy prevent the U.S. from developing as a democracy and see these conversations as strengthening citizenship. We must grapple with why, as Rev. Otis Moss III puts it, “Black conceptions of democracy are radically different from those that have participated and are privileged in the democracy.” Racial grievances have been used as a pretext to undermine democratic norms and principles, whether during the fall of Reconstruction, the enactment of Jim Crow, or the Jan. 6 coup attempt.

Third, invest in and amplify practices that simultaneously address racism and strengthen democracy. We need joint strategy-setting across a broad-based democracy movement that incorporates racial justice into political education, organizing and advocacy efforts, and in community dialogue. For example, labor unions significantly reduce racial wage gaps and racial wealth gaps between Black and white workers. Because of this, unions play a critical role in pushing back against authoritarian practices and strengthening an inclusive democracy.

Churches and religious institutions — particularly Black churches — have been pillars of support for democratic norms in the United States. Now, too many white evangelicals and Catholics are supporting the rise of authoritarianism and, in some cases, providing cover for political violence in the U.S. And those Christian leaders who stand against rising authoritarianism, such as former leader of the Southern Baptist Convention Russell Moore, are forced to step down because of threats from within their own community when they condemn white Christian nationalism.

However, as we witnessed in 2020, other faith organizations played a key role in upholding basic principles of democracy by countering misinformation, protecting the sacred right to vote, and deterring political violence. These roles will be critically important amid contentious national elections in 2024. Faith leaders can draw on moral authority and organizational power to highlight the urgency of this moment, support free and fair elections, insist on pro-democratic behaviors in politicians, and hold individuals accountable for political violence and other anti-democratic behaviors. Beyond the elections, faith organizations can speak prophetically about the awesome challenge and opportunity of building a multiracial democracy in the United States, grounded in mutual flourishing, and backing that vision with concrete action. In states that have become laboratories of democratic backsliding, faith leaders and communities can employ tactics such as public statements, symbolic protests, protective accompaniment of vulnerable community members, and (where necessary) acts of nonviolent noncooperation to apply principled pressure on those actively working against democracy. Churches can lead and support local and state-based efforts to advance truth, racial justice, and racial healing while grounding these efforts in a transformative pro-democracy movement. In this way, faith-based efforts to combat racism and strengthen democracy would instill hope and rejuvenate religious imagination for drawing us closer to the Beloved Community.

This article, Can Multiracial Democracy Survive?, was originally published in Sojourners magazine, April 2024. Reprinted with permission.

Defending Democracy by Expanding the Agenda

*By Research Assistant Sivahn Sapirstein and Director for Race and Democracy Jarvis Williams.

As 2024 continues, all eyes are on the Presidential election. Many Americans are focused on the colossal task of ensuring our democracy can survive another crucial election without descending into violence. Yet, as we become increasingly focused on such a pivotal election, it is also important to remember that defending democracy neither starts nor ends at the ballot box. In fact, defending democracy is a far more expansive project. Louis Brandeis, former Supreme Court justice, once proclaimed that the most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen. Pro-democracy organizers agree with these words, and it is their constant practice to put these words into action.

It would be an understatement to say that practicing democracy is easy. American history is littered with testimonies reminding us that it is not. Like all worthy enterprises, defending democracy is fraught with challenges and sheer disappointments. Pro-democracy organizers would do well to spend some time considering this history. In the face of our current democratic crisis, and its more visible authoritarian manifestations, pro-democracy organizers would benefit from recognizing the manifold ways Americans have compromised democracy in the past. This knowledge would help pro-democracy organizers identify the current threats to democracy more clearly and expand their imaginations about the possibilities of democratic engagement. In this moment, establishing racial justice as the foundation for all pro-democracy work, seeing what multiracial visions emerge from that foundation, and crafting strategies that embed that learning into every aspect of our pro-democracy playbook is the challenging work that must be done.

Protecting and expanding access to voting is one of the most prominent strategies for defending democracy being modeled across pro-democracy organizations. Many organizations develop grassroot networks and work tirelessly encouraging citizens to participate in the electoral process. The New Georgia Project and ProGeorgia are two such organizations which have been particularly effective in registering and mobilizing new constituencies. These organizations see voter registration and mobilization as a key step towards a multiracial democracy. Other organizations such as America Votes, Common Cause, and Movement Voter Project, alongside think tanks and policy groups such as States United Democracy Center, Brennan Center for Justice, or Protect Democracy, are all equally engaged (amongst a host of other activities) in defending democracy by exposing efforts to undermine elections and advancing new mechanisms to safeguard election systems.

While appreciating the importance of all these efforts, the authoritarian threat confronting the nation requires that pro-democracy organizations embrace a more expansive display of democratic agency. To be sure, many pro-democracy organizations are aware that democratic participation exists beyond the ballot box; some are also engaged with civic education programs or policy campaigns around gerrymandering, while others are bridging voter registration campaigns with issue specific organizing such as reproductive rights and raising the minimum wage. These are all critical elements of expanding the playbook for democratic defense beyond participation in electoral politics. Nonetheless, the nature of the authoritarian threat requires that we go even further.

A more expansive defense of American democracy begins with the understanding that the seeds of our current democratic crisis can be found in our past. Our current threat emerged by exploiting unresolved narratives of white supremacy and its unspoken acceptance of systemic racism. Ta-Nehisi Coates drew a link between these unresolved narratives and their capacity to produce electoral success. After Trump’s election in 2016, Ta-Nehisi made this observation, “it is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power.” Other writers do not see these unresolved narratives as causative but merely correlative. In their view, seeing Trump as merely a mirror is the most constructive way to understand our current democratic dilemma.

The overarching point is that one presidential election should not be viewed as the source of our current democratic crisis. It is critical for pro-democracy organizations to see this moment in relationship to our larger history of tolerating anti-democratic laws and norms based on race. This history shows the emergence and maintenance of “authoritarian enclaves” up until 1968. Following 1968, a revised framework for excluding groups from accessing democratic rights, opportunities, and resources emerged. The new framework mobilized social prejudices and sought to legitimize them in our institutional practices. Of critical significance was the decision in Terry v Ohio that made stop and frisk constitutional (something people today are demonstrating violates the 4th amendment). The ongoing refusal to practice democracy with integrity in America is what Weaver and Prowse have labeled as “racial authoritarianism.” Constantly engaging American history is critical for understanding the true nature of our current threats and resisting their cancerous effects in our current moment.

As it stands, the conversations and organizing around democracy and racial justice remain largely distinct. One way to bridge these spaces is by advocating for the acknowledgement of racism as a critical “animating factor” within our current democratic crisis and integrating that awareness into existing pro-democracy spaces. Another way to bolster the pro-democracy efforts is by seeing what themes racial authoritarianism and racial justice can illuminate within the American democracy conversation. Through this approach, several new categories emerge under the banner of pro-democracy organizing work in America: confronting structures of policing and mass surveillance, reforming the justice system, and addressing economic inequality (specifically access to housing). For each category, there are passionate organizations advancing what could be considered a more expansive democratic defense strategy. Yet, these defense strategies remain mostly outside the traditional framework of pro-democracy work.

The absence of policing, mass surveillance, and criminal justice reform from most discourses on defending democracy is particularly glaring. While the relationship between policing and democracy in America may not seem apparent at first glance, it is worth noting that, when analyzing other countries, we typically assume a relationship between policing practices and structures of authoritarianism. Why not probe that relationship in the US? For example, in the spirit of defending American democracy, we should interrogate police militarization, the proliferation of SWAT teams and their disproportionately high use in Black neighborhoods, how racial profiling deepens a distinct experience of citizenship, and the worrying trends in police education which deepen the divide between police and the communities they are supposed to protect. Campaign Zero and Southern Center for Human Rights are two organizations working to develop clear steps for advancing community safety and strengthening accountability and fairness – key concepts in our fight against authoritarianism. Civilian review boards – though often stymied by politicians and police – can serve as a foundational concept for future initiatives demanding the democratization of police departments and their relationships to local communities.

The other component is mass surveillance, and specifically the increasing practice of data sharing between major companies and the police, which poses a threat to our freedom of movement. Project South is one organization working on addressing the way mass surveillance erodes democratic norms through their report on state surveillance of Muslim communities. Reform Georgia, Southern Center for Human Rights, and Justice Reform Partnership are just a few of the organizations working on criminal justice reform issues such as private probation, cash bail, decriminalizing poverty, and, more broadly, ending mass incarceration. Even though voting isn’t the whole story of democratic defense, it is useful to highlight that each of these issues is intimately related to the question of who can physically participate in our democratic system.

Addressing economic inequality must become more squarely situated within pro-democracy discourse. Linking economic inequality to rising authoritarianism is not itself a novel idea; one common narrative explaining the rising support for a more authoritarian type of leadership amongst Americans is the dramatic and persistent level of economic inequality. From another angle, research on democratic participation has found empirical evidence showing that socio-economic status is the clearest indicator for a person’s level of democratic engagement (the poorer the individual the less likely they are to participate in a variety of democratic activities). Adding to the conversation the stark reality of the racial wealth gap in America, itself a legacy of racial authoritarianism, enables us to see why economic justice must be a key component of our pro-democracy organizing. Partnership for Southern Equity incorporates housing and economic justice as central pillars of their racial justice work. Atlanta Civic Circle also incorporates both housing rights and democracy within its strategic playbook. While addressing economic inequality may seem beyond the scope of pro-democracy organizing given the urgency of the upcoming election, our defense of democracy must be both audacious and expansive.

Admittedly, defending democracy is challenging work. And when you include the impact of policing and mass surveillance, the criminal justice system, and economic inequality in the assessment of our democracy a more disconcerting picture appears. Nevertheless, defenders of democracy must confront this picture with calm resolve. They must be assured that we can resist the authoritarian trends compromising our democratic aspirations. And it must never be forgotten that civil resistance works. In truth, we have an expansive democratic playbook bequeathed to us by social movements both within the US and around the world. Therefore, we must resolve to weave together all the strategies of democratic defense and unapologetically engage in pro-democracy work grounded in an unwavering commitment to racial justice.

THE VISTA: February 2024

February is the month of St. Valentine and so it’s a perfect time to reflect on the courageous power of love to sustain our relational organizing and care for each other. As we grapple with uncertainty, incorporate hope into our daily practice, and wield the power of imagination for seeking justice, many are also working on a new shared narrative of a future of belonging for all in the United States. At the same time, we take stock and learn from autocratic shocks in other countries, such as the lessons from Alexei Navalny’s murder in a Russian prison this month; and, we are inspired by the renewed focus on people power to demand freedom and justice around the world. It is especially important for the funding community to continue to support the “hidden wiring” behind our needed connections for broad-based movement-building across many lines of difference.

We also celebrated Black History (and Black Futures) this month, with many inspiring compilations and content to educate and help celebrate. Both looking back and looking forward as a nation requires that we engage in a conversation about racial justice and racial repair. Luckily, there are many resources to draw upon for communicating about the emerging topic of reparations. In addition, an important discussion has been unfolding about the current state of sustainable infrastructure of Black-led organizing, centering the foresight of Black leaders and their advocacy for sustained funding and on-going investment in capacity development.

Finally, this month Horizons would like to share that our colleague Jarvis Williams is taking on a new role as Director for Race and Democracy, reflecting both the gaps and opportunities we see to synergize lines of work and actors within the ecosystem of social change. We’ve compiled an initial list of resources that bring together the many elements of racial justice and democracy work, that we hope will help spur conversations and new insights.

Please enjoy some additional resources we’ve been reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING

Healing Systems
By Laura Calderon de la BarcaKatherine Milligan & John Kania

This Stanford Social Innovation Review article is a powerful read: “Seeing individual, intergenerational, collective, and historical trauma for what they are—powerful forces to reckon with in our present-day systems—and moving discussions about trauma from the margins to the mainstream can help the social sector discern new and effective approaches to systems change.”

Will You Join the Supermajority for Constitutional Democracy?
by Danielle Allen in The Washington Post

“…A supermajority for constitutional democracy. More than two-thirds of us committed to the basic norms and guardrails. That should be our goal. Any supermajority at that scale is [going] to be cross-ideological. But the real test of health for a democracy is not whether a large majority of us can agree on this or that policy, or this or that candidate, but whether it is possible to forge a cross-ideological supermajority in support of the core norms of constitutional democracy…What does that mean? It means to affirm a set of basic norms: a commitment to constitutionalism, rule of law, full inclusion, nonviolence and respect for elections.” 

Free For All: So What is Your Caste?
The Ink

Anand Giridharadas interviews Isabel Wilkerson the author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents a comparative inquiry, connecting the experience of structural racism in the US, Nazi Germany, and India. Ava DuVernay has turned the book (and the story of its writing) into a film, Origin. Word is the movie will make you think, and Giridharadas re-released this conversation with Wilkerson about what the book has to say to Americans about how to understand their historical experience of race and what it means as we move forward into the future.

Lead the Leaders: Lessons on Movement Building
by Joel Searby

As New Way Politics Leadership Network prepares for their Spring Summit, this article describes the ways that investment in leadership is critical. “In order to grow a movement and not just convene people, assume that everyone, from the biggest name to the newest organizer, needs to grow and will benefit from being led and fed. Pour into them.” Joel also stresses the importance of building diverse rooms. “In order to stay grounded, equitable, diverse and authentic, include people who are truly leaders but may not have ‘platforms’ or ‘influence.’”

WATCHING

The State of Black America
Harvard Kennedy School, Institute of Politics

Don’t miss this recorded discussion with leading scholars on multiple issues facing Black communities across the country. Setti Warren moderates with panelists Cornell William Brooks, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Sandra Susan Smith who have a wide-ranging discussion, including the many facets and historic context of our current democratic decline, specific policy solutions and the inspiring mutual aid networks and political education initiatives being led in Black communities around the country.

The Rise of the Far Right – And What We Can Do About It
Hosted by the Conduit, Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander

“It’s time to face facts. Far right leaders have a firm grip on power in Turkey, Hungary, Italy and more; Trump’s polling lead in America is growing; the leading candidate to be the next Chancellor of Austria is openly using Hitlerian rhetoric in his campaign; and here in the UK the plates are shifting too. The work to fight back needs to accelerate hard, and it needs to involve all of us – and that begins with a clear-eyed understanding of what’s really going on: where exactly we are, how we got here, and what’s coming down the track. Then we can turn to the work of response, looking at what has already worked and what else might. Join Ece Temelkuran, Paul Hilder, Jiore Craig, and Jon Alexander for a critical discussion on the rise of far-right politics in Europe and the US hosted by The Conduit.

IMPACT: Creating Hope Together Keynote
John Paul Lederach

IMPACT is a global organization that advocates for arts and culture to transform conflict and build more creative, inclusive societies. Earlier this year, IMPACT convened a global community of activists and creatives to provide an online space for connection and to find creative inspiration together. You won’t want to miss the inspirational keynote address offered by renowned peacebuilder, John Paul Lederach. One nugget he offered is “how you’re choosing to respond to the particular challenges that any crisis offers us… is so key because being crisis responsive and long-term strategic means we have to have clarity of self and clarity of relationships and openness to work with and alongside people who may see the world very differently than us and who may be engaged in things that are not our areas of understanding or specialty but that ultimately we will need if we are to make change last.”

Join or Die
Documentary Trailer

Join or Die was released in 2023 and is now launching a year-long national community impact campaign. The film introduces Robert Putnam’s research on the importance of community to democracy and the decline in American community engagement over the past decades — especially to young Americans who were not alive to experience the Bowling Alone message go viral decades ago. “…we hope that the film can serve as a tool to catalyze urgent conversations in every city, campus, congregation, civic organization, and public institution across the country about how each can begin to answer the question: How can we help, in our own community, to build social capital and rejuvenate civic life?” If you’re interested in organizing a free film screening for your organization or community, you can find out more information at Host.JoinOrDie.Film.

Race Civic Identity and Self-Expression
Keseb Global

Keseb recently hosted a timely discussion on the intersection of race, civic identity, and self-expression. Joining this dialogue were two Keseb Fellows: PushBlack CEO Julian Walker interviewed Tessa Dooms, the Director of Programmes at Rivonia Circle and co-author of the recent book, “Coloured: How Classification Became Culture.” In recent months, South African singer Tyla has not only gained significant prominence in the international music scene but has also ignited a noteworthy discourse in the United States. As a South African, Tyla identifies as “coloured,” a term deeply embedded in South African culture. However, in the United States, this term carries a negative connotation, serving as a painful reminder of the oppressive Jim Crow era. This conversation was part of Keseb’s 2024 Mega Election Year event series.

LISTENING TO

On the Courage to Blow the Whistle
On Leading Podcast

“If I learned one thing, it’s that it really is never too late to do the right thing.” Miles Taylor was the senior official who anonymously sounded a five-alarm warning in the NYT Times op-ed I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. During this podcast interview, he candidly shares why he chose to unmask himself and “go public” with the stand he took for the future of the United States. He describes how important it is to come forward publicly to lower the price of dissent for others. He explains that many people are scared to speak out or remain anonymous for fear of being cast out of their own political tribe, but he explains how there is life on the other side of a right decision.

Advancing Social Impact Chuckle by Chuckle with Negin Farsad
Say More with Tulaine Montgomery Podcast                   

“Policymaking isn’t enough to create real change. Impact begins with a shift in culture. Negin Farsad, a comedian and filmmaker, talks to me about the importance of comedy in creating a foundation for social change. She also explains how comedy has helped her build bridges across identities.”

Faith in Elections
BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty) Podcast

How does religious freedom overlap with ensuring fair and free elections? And “what is the role of churches and other houses of worship in protecting democracy? This topic usually comes up because of bad actors that overstep into partisanship, but [this podcast discussion] looks at how faith communities can help our elections run smoothly. Holly Hollman speaks with Chris Crawford about how people of faith can love their neighbors and take active roles in protecting our system of government.” Protect Democracy and Interfaith America partnered to help faith communities serve their communities during the 2024 election; check out their Faith in Elections Playbook.

How is Political Violence Different in 2024? Featuring Alex Theodoridis
Keeping Pace with Kristen Podcast

Kristen Cambell from Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) interviews Alexander Theodoridis on how political violence today differs from that which we saw in the past such as scenes from Vietnam protests, or politics amidst the Civil War. “This short podcast will help you develop greater awareness of how political violence is birthed, how it draws on human nature, and how it can be addressed.”

FOR FUN

Why We Should Cook Big
Weave the Social Fabric Project, Aspen Institute

“For many weavers, food is the path to opening hearts and creating connections that can then turn into after-school programs, friendships across race or class, support for immigrants or neighbors returning from prison, and any number of other weaving projects. And while it might feel like magic, there’s proof that shared food helps build trust. Two researchers at the University of Chicago ran a series of experiments to see the effects of eating the same food during negotiations. In one experiment, they asked participants to play the role of a manager and a union representative during salary negotiations. During their discussion, they were served snacks. When the pairs ate the same food, they got to agreement much quicker than when they ate different foods. Sharing food, the researchers found, promotes trust and cooperation.”

THE VISTA: January 2024

Happy 2024 from Horizons! A year when half the population of the world will be going to the polls. One of the main lessons from recent electoral successes – like in Poland – is the importance of keeping pro-democracy coalition(s) from fracturing. So staying together as partisans for democracy is especially important as we go into this electoral year. There are several helpful efforts underway to map the pro-democracy ecosystem in the US and to reflect on the ways pro-democracy private philanthropy is responding. And while Horizons continues to be galvanized by the authoritarian threat in the US, we also feel a sense of hope and momentum from the many state-level efforts to fight back against these anti-democratic trends, such as Pennsylvania Uniters and KeepLouisanaUnified.org.

Check out this short explainer video on the Pillars of Support framework that Horizons released earlier this month to help make sense of authoritarian systems and highlighting some of the strategies used during the civil rights movement. In January, we also celebrate Martin Luther King Jr – a day to be inspired not only by his vision and leadership, but by the multitude of people who made up civil rights movements. Appreciation to More Perfect for sharing this short film, Traveling with Dr. King, featuring stories from several of Dr. King’s closest advisers, and we also recommend King: A Film Recorded…Montgomery to Memphis covering some of the most critical campaigns of that period. Part of commemorating MLK Day is also to be clear eyed about our history in the country and to take seriously the current resurgence of threats of political violence that is having an increasingly chilling effect on democratic participation.

And finally, we are finding such inspiration from those elevating the calls for love and radical collaboration as the foundations for our organizing. We agree!

Enjoy some additional resources we are reading, watching, and listening to this month:

READING

Searching for a New Paradigm: Collective Settings

A Partnership of More in Common and the SNF Agora Institute

Within the complex ecosystem of democracy reformers, there is often two dominant paradigms: (1) institutional reform efforts and (2) individual, psycho-social interventions. Through a series of case studies, this report seeks to articulate another paradigm for making democracy work: investing in the design and distribution of civic infrastructure. “By investing in collective settings, we hope to develop the muscles for democracy that people and communities will need to seek, identify, and implement shared solutions that do not accept the world as it is but instead create the world they need.”

Slow Change Can Be Radical Change

by Rebecca Solnit, Literary Hub

“The expectation that change will be swift and the failure to perceive it when it’s not impacts politics for the worse. A common source of uninformed despair is when a too-brief effort doesn’t bring a desired result—one round of campaigning, one protest. Another immense impact of this impatience and attention-span deficit comes when a political process reaches its end, but too many don’t remember its beginning. At the end of most positive political changes, a powerful person or group seems to hand down a decision. But at the beginning of most were grassroots campaigns to make it happen. The change got handed up before it got handed down, and only the slow perspective, the long view, lets you see the power that lies in ordinary people, in movements, in campaigns that often are seen as unrealistic, extreme, aiming for the impossible at their inception.”

Democracy Hypocrisy: Examining America’s Fragile Democratic Convictions

by Joe Goldman, Lee Drutman, and Oscar Pocasangre, The Democracy Fund 

“Will Americans stand up for democracy even when it works against their party?” The View of the Electorate Research (VOTER) Survey is a longitudinal survey that Democracy Fund has conducted in partnership with YouGov since December 2016. Insights from the most recent report include: while the vast majority of Americans claim to support democracy, fewer than half consistently and uniformly support democratic norms across multiple surveys over the past seven years; support for democratic norms softens considerably when they conflict with partisanship; the portion of the public who are consistently authoritarian — Americans who consistently justify political violence or support alternatives to democracy over multiple survey waves — is also relatively small. This leaves most Americans somewhere between consistent democratic and authoritarian leanings, a position often heavily shaped by partisanship.

Framing Democracy: A Quick Start Guide

The Frameworks Institute

“Democracy in the United States is at a crossroads. Moving forward, the strength of our democratic system will depend on public support and action, which in turn depends on how people think about and make sense of democracy itself. The framing choices we make can have a major impact on how people understand democracy in the US—what it is, how it works, and how it can be better. In this short guide, we zero in on democracy—specifically, how can we foster a more productive dialogue and build a greater understanding of what democracy is and how we can improve it in the US?”

WATCHING

National Day of Racial Healing

NBC News Now Special

The National Day of Racial Healing was launched in 2017 and is observed each year on January 16th to reflect on our shared values around equality and how we can heal from the effects of racism. The National Day of Racial Healing is a part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing Transformation efforts We enjoyed seeing our friend and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)-KY organizer, Beth Howard, in the special! You can read more about all the organizations who commemorated this day and the many events they hosted around the country here.

Democracy by Margaret Atwood | Democracy 2024

The Financial Times

“In a year in which more than half the world goes to the polls, acclaimed novelist Margaret Atwood asks whether democracy is fragile and easily destroyed or flexible and resilient. This [short] animated monologue is the first of four films examining the state of government, representation, rights, and freedom.”

Political Violence in the US Landscape: Are We Ready?

Kettering Conversations

Three years after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, political violence remains a threat to American democracy. You can watch the recordings of this live January 2024 Kettering Conversation, as they engaged with thought leaders about the ongoing threats of political violence including James Comey, former director of the FBI; Chris Matthews, nationally known broadcast journalist and political commentator and Kelley Robinson, President, Human Rights Campaign amongst others.

Your Creative Superpowers Can Help Protect Democracy

Sofia Ongele, TED Democracy

“’Democracy is more fun and inviting when you take it into your own hands,’ says creator and activist Sofia Ongele. Sharing how she’s using coding and social media to defend democracy, Ongele invites us to identify our own creative superpowers — whether it’s community organizing, making music or telling stories — and use them to cause a ruckus and bring movements to life.”

LISTENING TO

January 6th: An American Story

An Audio Docuseries by Our Body Politic

“Many of the investigators and team leads on the January 6th Committee that investigated the insurrection were people of color… We bring you the story of their leadership, and why their mix of lived experience as descendants of enslaved people; children of immigrants; or immigrants themselves deeply shaped the committee’s quest to protect and uphold a multiracial pluralistic democracy. In January 6th: An American Story, we show – through the eyes of the people of color helping to lead the committee – that January 6th is not over, and the ways we continue to make sense of its reverberations could save – or imperil – us all.”

A New World Combining

Interview with Nora Bateson, Entangled World Podcast

Nora Bateson discusses her latest book, Combining, where she challenges conventional fixes for our problems, highlighting the need to tackle issues at multiple levels, understand interdependence, and embrace ambiguity. The interview looks at how we cannot solve our current global challenges or the metacrisis with direct correctives. She discusses the fact that in ecological systems nothing is happening one thing at a time. There’s not A solution to A problem.

1/6 the Graphic Novel

Why? The Podcast

What would have happened if the January 6th insurrection had been successful? The second installment is out! Check out this interview with Harvard law professor Alan Jenkins who co-wrote the graphic novel with Gan Golan (and illustrated by Will Rosado). Drawing on real-life events on 1/6, the novel imagines a world in which the events of that day turned out very differently. It’s a story that demands our attention and calls on us to act. You can order the first two issues on the comic’s website

FOR FUN
Check out the Poetry Clinic, now live! “Poetry Clinic provides a poetic response to the complex situation of being a human during this time of climate crisis, cascading conflicts, the ongoing pandemic, and other social and environmental upheavals. Poetry Clinic cultivates new relationships among readers, poets, and poems in a time of profound uncertainty. In short, Poetry Clinic serves as a portal for users to request poems that address specific life situations they’re facing. 

You are invited to email the Clinic with your quandary, any experience or circumstance, for which a poem might be a balm — or a disruption, an opening of sorts. Poetry Clinic is the online equivalent of an apothecary, but instead of dispensing herbs and potions, they offer up poems to help soothe a moment of your heartache or worry–or to join in celebrating births, marriages, love, transitions, the passionate transitory.

Understanding Pillars of Support

Horizons has been focusing on how various Pillars of Support, notably faith-based organizations, businesses, unions & professional associations, and veterans/military groups, have contributed to authoritarian systems and how they have supported pro-democracy movements in the US and globally.

To complement our pillars-focused research and organizing, we have developed this short, 5-min video focused on what pillars of support are, why they matter, and what it means to both engage and pressure key pillars as part of pro-democracy organizing that reaches beyond the base.

We hope that activists, organizers, trainers, educators, bridgers, funders, and other democracy practitioners will find this tool helpful in your daily work. Please feel free to share the video with interested folks.

Thanks, and we look forward to joining forces in this critical year for democracy in the US and around the world!