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A reading list to supplement the Organizing 101 conversation

If you like to readhere are some books. However you should do so with clarity that reading about organizing is like
dancing about architectureI firmly believe that community organizing is best described as a martial art it is something
you practice for years and make sacrifices for before it really gives itself up to you. Its also almost an axiom that the
very best organizers didnt write about itso no books by Mother Jones, John L. Lewis, Sidney Hillman, MLK, Myles
Horton, Herb White, Bayard Rustin, Mad Bear Anderson, Robert Moses, Walter Ruether, Dorothy Day, Fred Hampton,
Gale Cincotta, Ernie Cortez, Caesar Chavez, Ella Baker, John Trudell, Delores Huerta, Bob Hunter, Larry Kramer, Cleve
Jones, Mary Gonzalez well, you get the idea. Part of the outsized influence of Alinsky is related to the fact that he
wrote down and codified a system of what many people were doing in the 30s. Anyway heres my list. Others would no
doubt chose others, and there are very many of these books in circulation. Still all of these are books about organizing
about people and power, about how and much less about why.

Books about Organizing:

Reveille for Radicals

Reveille for Radicals - the classic Alinsky book written back in the 40's and mostly about the organizing Alinsky did in the
30's. Its his best book, although the follow up Rules for Radicals his challenge to the new left is more directed at
people who see themselves as radicals, you could read either one, I like this one. But its old.

No Shortcuts
Jane Mcelvey is one of the best organizing theorists of my generation, and she has written an important book arguing
that we need to return to first principles in organizing. She is mostly talking about labor, but it applies to community
organizing too. I think you all might like it for the case studies in each chapter essentially 5 stories about how
organizing works. Shes also a former CCC writing fellow.

Cold Anger by Mary Rogers

Talks about the life and influence of Ernie Cortez and describes how he reinvented the (white male?) organizing methods
and created the relational, leader centered version of organizing that the faith based network groups aspire too. Still one
of the best books around.

Basics of Organizing by Shel Trapp

Written in the 70s this is the simplest, stripped out, clearest manual for urban neighborhood based community organizing
is the Basics of Organizing by Shel Trapp (Trapp was the organizing director of NPA and the strategist behind the HMDA
and CRA laws, later in life he helped found ADAPT and pass the Americans with Disabilities Act). Here it is for free on the
internet. (Its just like Trapp that he gives his stuff away).

Primetime Activism by Charlotte Ryan

CCC works a lot on message and narrative and this book gives you an introduction to the methods and practice of this
work. Worth reading to understand the terrain, and much of the lessons in apply to online organizing as well.

If you are religious than you might want to take a look at faith based organizing:

Doing Justice: Dennis Jacobson's book Doing Justice is especially good for people of faith. Jacobson is a leader in the
Gamaliel Foundation. It explores principles of organizing and also talks about the religious basis of the work.
Pages from the Notebook of a Black Radical: collected writings of James Boggs

Here are Grace and James Boggs notes they were influential organizers from Detroit. This collection of essays from Dr.
Stephan Ward is pretty good, and has the advantage of tracking a specifically black inflection to community organizing
over a very long period of time, its a history lesson and an organizing lesson in one book. James and his wife Grace
influenced most of the current generation of organizers.

Historical books about organizing:

You can read history for these lessons about organizing, and here are some that were important to me.
A Spark is Struck: the Biography of Jack Hall, legendary labor organizer. This is one of the best learn via biography
books out thereit tells the story of the ILWU and how they overthrew the colonial plantation system in Hawaii and
turned it into the first multi-racial state in the US.

The Children, David Halberstam

This book is a history of the civil rights movement through the eyes of James Lawson and others, and while it is a history
book embedded in the story are valuable lessons about the way regular people apply power to make changes. Its very
readable too.

Poor Peoples Movements Frances Fox Piven

This book is foundational for understanding CCCs implicit theoretical position around movements and organizing.
Written by someone who was an organizer in the Welfare Rights Movement which created ACORN and influenced CCC
in its early years.

Black against Empire

The Panther Party inspired a lot of community organizing, and Bobby Seale provides the definition of power that is still
foundational to the community organizing that people have done since the early 70s. This an unvarnished story of their
successes and failures.