Over the course of our special podcast series on the “Rise of the Right,” we have sought to understand the scope of the far right’s growth and influence in the US and beyond, the historical and ideological roots of today’s far-right movements, and how those movements are interconnected. But it would be inexcusable to end this series without exploring what can be done to blunt, if not fully defeat, the far right. All too often, the response to the growing threats posed by the far right in liberal and progressive circles is despair and fatalistic acceptance of an impending, unstoppable, dystopian future. But we cannot and must not accept the future the far right wants to create as an inevitability.

In this special series of The Marc Steiner Show, co-hosted by Marc Steiner and Bill Fletcher Jr., we have examined the rise of the right in the US and beyond, we have explored the different tendencies and motivations fueling today’s surge in far-right politics, and we have engaged with a range of critical voices who have helped us understand how we got here and what we can do about it. In Episode Five of “Rise of the Right,” Marc and Bill are joined by Marina Sitrin, Faye Guenther, and Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson to discuss how to build an effective, principled, and big-tent coalition that has the power to oppose and defeat the reactionary forces of today’s far right.

Marina Sitrin is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at SUNY Binghamton; she is the author and co-author of multiple books, including Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina and They Can’t Represent Us!: Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy. Faye Guenther is the elected president of Washington state’s United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, the largest UFCW local in the nation. Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is the co-executive director of the Highlander Research & Education Center; she is a longtime activist and organizer and has been deeply involved in the Movement for Black Lives and the fight against environmental racism, and she serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly.

Listen to previous episodes of this special series, and tune in every Monday for new installments of The Marc Steiner Show on TRNN.

Pre-Production: Dwayne Gladden, Stephen Frank, Kayla Rivara, Maximillian Alvarez, Jocelyn Dombroski
Studio: Dwayne Gladden
Post-Production: Stephen Frank


Marc Steiner:                      Greetings and welcome everybody. This is Marc Steiner, here on The Marc Steiner Show on The Real News with my co-host Bill Fletcher Jr. Good to have you again, Bill.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                   Always.

Marc Steiner:                              And here we are continuing our look at the far right. Over the last several episodes, we have sought to really understand the rise of the contemporary far right. We’ve done so by looking at the roots of that movement, the implications of racism, sexism, settler colonialism, and myth in the formation of this far right. We’ve identified how we are seeing the United States is not unique to us, and it’s not limited to Donald Trump, but it’s part of a global phenomenon. It’s part of a movement happening across the globe.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                            It would be inexcusable to leave this series without exploring what can be done to blunt, if not fully defeat, the far right. We see all too often displays of fatalism and despair within liberal and progressive circles in which too many people throw their hands in the air believing that dystopia is upon us. We believe that such an approach is simply unacceptable.

Marc Steiner:                             Which brings us to today’s episode. We’ve asked several colleagues from different movements and settings to join us for a discussion regarding where do we go from here? We’ve explored in sufficient detail the depth of the depravity that we face. Now we have to understand what must be done.

To assist us today, we have an incredible panel. Marina Sitrin is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at SUNY Binghamton, and she’s the author or co-author of They Can’t Represent Us! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy. Faye Guenther is the elected president of the Washington State’s United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21, which is the largest UFCW local in the nation. And Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson is the co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, and she’s been active in the Black Lives Matter movement, and serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly, and has been involved for many years, not as long as Highlander Center, but for many years. And it’s good to have you all three with us. Welcome.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                                Thank you for joining us. As we said, this brings to close this examination that we’ve been doing of the far right. And we believe that something can be done. So now it’s up to you to tell us what it is. So we want to start, though, with, when you think about the far right… Let’s be dialectical about this. What are the strengths and weaknesses that you see within the far right, and the strengths and weaknesses on our side, those of us opposing the right? Let me just start by asking Ash-Lee, for you to kick it off.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Yeah. I mean, I think this is an excellent question in terms of being able to develop good strategy about how we move forward, that without that concrete assessment of concrete conditions, we wouldn’t be able to even know where to start. I think in terms of the extreme right, I think what their strongest aspects are, their tactical interventions are, is that they know how to use power. They’re not afraid of it. Once they get it, they use it by any means necessary to consolidate their wealth and power, whether that’s political power, geographic reach, building mass movements, political educations, et cetera, all of their intervention. They believe in consolidating everything they’ve got, even if there are ideological differences, for the sake of conserving and building their power. I think their weakness is that they’re human. The infighting that they’re having inside of their movement between white supremacists, white nationalists, paramilitary forces, Christian supremacists, et cetera, is significant. So their human frailty, I think, is the thing that slows them up.

I think in terms of talking about progressive forces in the many lefts in the United States in particular but across the globe, I think our strength is that we’re bending the moral arc of the universe towards justice. Though I think our insistence that just being right is what’s going to move the masses is a weakness. That is not the case. If just being factually and morally correct was the victory, we would’ve won by now. And so I fear that our biggest weakness here is actually being afraid of building power and not actually prioritizing it in some of our strategic interventions.

I think another weakness is that we overcorrect. We actually concede territory and communities that then get absorbed and create a sense of belonging for people on the right. So for example, we say that religion is the opioid of the masses and we leave out faith communities. Well, guess who then fills the vacuum? The right. We abandon rural communities all over this country and the globe, and then guess who starts to build nationalist movements in those places? The right. And so I think we just have to be bigger than the sum of our parts and quit creating vacuums that the right then fills.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    Thank you. Marina, same question.

Marina Sitrin:                                     Thanks. Kind of building off Ash-Lee, maybe going in slightly different directions too, but just at its day-to-day core, it’s the talking to people. From my experience both in the US but in Greece and other parts of the world, the far right is talking to people. They’re talking to neighbors and they’re having the conversations about what people are afraid of and what people want and what people need, and then trying to find ways to meet those needs. And I think we do this broadly, sometimes. Sometimes we do it really well, and then a lot of times we don’t. What I mean by that is, say, during the pandemic, so many of these mutual aid groups that have come up in neighborhoods and people are talking to each other across, people who didn’t know each other, maybe six feet away and with a mask on, but building those relationships. Then when it feels like there’s less of a crisis, we let it slip.

So it seems to me that one of the most important things we can do is just build these face-to-face relationships and the alternatives are in there. What do people need? And that was something that one of the lessons I spent a lot of time in Greece, especially after the Occupy movements, which started obviously in Indonesia and Egypt and throughout other parts of the world and later in the US, but they had the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, huge right-wing fascist organization. They were building on people’s insecurity, food insecurity, fears, and they tapped into that. And then they tried to meet people’s needs, and that was defeated. It was defeated through day-to-day organizing and street confrontations.

I think thinking in those terms – And we can get into this maybe later in the discussion – But I think too often we look to institutions to do it for us, the same institutions that support the far right and have helped to make the far right. So it’s the looking to one another. That’s what I think is the heart of it.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                Thank you.

Marc Steiner:                     That was great.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    Faye?

Faye Guenther:                              Thanks. Thanks for having me. I grew up in a small town, Spray, Oregon, had about 150 people, logging town. I remember the first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio spewing out hate, and some of it wrapped in humor, but this very hateful speech, and it permeated my town of Spray. There was no real other radio that was “entertainment.” We had satellite dishes, so we had very little access to news, and we were mostly a logging town. And I remember the spotted owl was used to justify and turn workers away from the fact that the logging owners were devastating these small communities and then pulling out their mills and leaving people without their pension and their healthcare. Instead of blaming the owners of these logging companies, the spotted owl got blamed.

So the far right is very good at reframing who the real enemy is. I remember watching this and being, especially as I got older, very heartbroken that Rush Limbaugh was able to have more influence over my small town than others. So I think the far right does a very good job of using different ways of communicating, and they invest massive amounts of resources in identifying and recruiting and training leaders.

So on my small campus, I don’t know if it was that small, but it was way bigger than Spray, Oregon State University, there was a far right element in that university. And there were investments in how to teach people how to speak, and speak in front of groups, and how to organize. And I think ever since the Powell memo, basically, the far right has done a very good job, with the Koch brothers and others, of doing massive, massive investment in leadership development. What I don’t think they’re doing right is that they are not being honest, and so I think the truth is on our side, and I think that, actually, mostly people are on our side. Everyday people, every day working-class people are on the side of what is truth and bending the arc towards justice.

I work for a labor union. I’ve worked for a labor union since the day I got out of college. I’ve been trying to help build rank and file unions since 1998, I think. What we do not do well is identify, recruit, and train leaders. We do not invest in leadership development in a way that I think we need to. I would say like the Women’s March, wow. It was so beautiful and there were so many people in the streets, but it didn’t result in perpetual, institutional power that could resist. So I believe actually that labor movement, the unions, if we rebuild unions, that they are the foundation and institutional fabric that could help rebuild and resist the right wing the best.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                     If I can just follow up one second on this, a question to you, Faye. So as the leader of a union… I mean, unions are very unique, as you know, in that there’s people of all kinds of ideological tendencies in there. How do you see the far right incent and what kind of influence do they have in your local, in the Washington State labor movement? And are people fighting back?

Faye Guenther:                           So I would say 30% of UFCW 3, we are a new union now, we just merged with Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington, and parts of Oregon, some of the most rural and conservative parts of the state including Northern Idaho. I would say 10 to 20% of my membership may have what we would consider far right leanings, but we all come together in rooms and we bargain over issues that unify us. So we spend a lot of time trying to identify issues that everyone cares about, whether it’s their healthcare, their pension, their wage. Everybody’s hungry. Everybody wants money to buy food with. If we can unify around trying to make sure people have enough money, we’re going to get very involved in raising the minimum wage in Idaho. That is bipartisan. That is an issue that broadly speaks to many people because you need money to pay the rent, to buy some food, and maybe, if you’re lucky, go to the movies or go on vacation.

So I feel like pulling people together, I was in a bargaining team meeting. This guy had a Trump hat on, Trump belt buckle, and the person to the left of me had a Bernie Sanders hat on. We were all on the same bargaining team. We were all trying to fight Providence, which was the employer who was doing heinous things to workers. We were able to, even though there were very different people in the room, unify around some key issues. And so I think it’s identifying those broad key issues and confronting racism and homophobia and sexism and all of those things in those rooms where there’s some trust built between us.

Marc Steiner:                      I mean, this is a very difficult question. I was listening to what you were saying about unions just now, Faye, and many, many years back, I cut my teeth as both a union and community organizer, and found those kinds of things can bridge gaps between us in many ways, but around organizing. Question is, how do we get there? I was thinking about how now the right wing, I always say the right wing has learned from us how to organize. They’re really effective at it at the grassroots level, electing people to school boards, electing people to city and town councils, just moving issues. They’re really good at that.

The question is, what do we have to do to get there? I mean, the roots are there. I mean, I was thinking actually like the Highlander Center. It’s a tradition in the Highlander Center to bring organizers together to wrestle with what to do and to be trained as well, from the ’30s up until now. The Civil Rights Movement was based around SNCC and other groups that were organizers. They weren’t just demonstrating and picketing. They were organizing. And sometimes I think we get confused between how much time we spend running the streets and how many times you spend talking to people in the streets. Pick up on that, if you would, Ash-Lee, and just talk a bit about how do we get to the place where we are organizing again?

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     I think the question is nuanced, because what’s real is we need all of it. I think for far too long, we’ve played into sectarian games about which tactical intervention was the most progressive or rad when actually what we need is a multi-tactical strategy and a united front of folks that are doing racial justice organizing and power building and folks that are the tip of the spear around representing and being of and deeply embedded in the working class. So in that vein, we need the protests. Shout out to the Women’s March. But we also need folks that are organizing and base-building, having these conversations with their neighbors. We need folks that are doing mutual aid. Mutual aid is not charity. It is literally building movement infrastructure that has to exist when the state fails. It is a political intervention. We need folks doing electoral justice work. We need folks thinking about how to build alternatives to the governance structures that we’ve created and that we participate in and have become the status quo.

So we need a multi-tactical strategy with a multiracial united front. And I feel we’ve gotten really close to that. I think 2020 is an example, both with the uprisings, the movement responses, the left movement responses to the intersecting crises and converging crises, compounding crises of COVID, white nationalist violence, white supremacist violence, and the economy. And I think we’re close. I think the challenge is, how do we keep up the stamina? How do we keep the united front together when neoliberalism, just as much as the far right, will do everything in its power to pull us apart from one another. We’ve seen that with the Biden administration in particular, in the first year, that we went from being a united front that was building campaigns to fight for everything that we wanted and deserved, to being picked off policy by policy by Congress and the Biden administration. So I think we need to work on stamina.

I think that I do believe that there is a strong role for labor in this and that those organizations need to be supported. When I say labor, I mean the Big 10. I mean worker centers and institutional labor. But what I know also as someone who cut their teeth in labor organizing is that if all we focus on is recruitment, that’s not power building. That is not organizing. That is not social justice unionism. And so again, we need the front. We need social justice organizations of all stripes working hand-in-hand with our comrades in labor to build the kind of popular movement that can change the hegemony of what the right has been able to steal from us.

I think it’s no small point. I think Marina said this earlier. Actually, Faye talked about this too, is the number of resources that we’re given to do that compared to the right is very minimal. I’m going to say this just in transparency, but also to make the absurdity of it obvious. You have the Heritage Foundation, you’ve got the Cato Institute. If I asked you to name the roll of all the bad players on the right, you could do that. But if I asked you what the budget of the Highlander Research and Education Center was in 2017 when I came in, you’d probably be shocked to know it was only $1.5 million for the largest geographic region in the United States, where the highest concentration of Black people in the country live. If the expectation is that the priority in this particular political moment is to train more organizers, then we need folks to actually invest in the folks that have been doing that and that are doing that in a 21st century context.

So I think there’s much to be done in terms… I agree, we need to be training more people. We need to invest in movement schools. We need to be supporting folks. But I also think it’s more than just the training and the leadership development. We need to be investing in them to be able to do that work full time. We need to be supporting them to be able to implement these things and in the whole life cycle of an organizer. We need to be thinking about what it looks like to be supporting people to not only do their programmatic interventions and work, but supporting them to also be able to sustain those wins after the campaign is complete and preparing them for the blowback.

I think what’s real is in this political climate, y’all know Highlander was attacked by white supremacists in 2019. This work that we’re doing is not benign and we are working against forces that are very ready to use violent forces, whether that’s policy or attack, physical violence, to stop us from doing the sacred work that we’re doing. So I think there’s much to be done in preparation for what we’re going to need to do if we’re really trying to actually practice democracy versus performing it, and then really being on the hedge of global fascism, with the US included in a much, much broader strategy.

Marina Sitrin:                              If I could chime in.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                     Marina.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Yeah. I love following Ash-Lee. It’s like this… Thinking about, so what does that look like? So what would those connections look like? How do we deepen those in this idea of a united front? There’s lots of things I don’t particularly like or think are effective, but that doesn’t matter. We’re all going to work together in this, and I think one of our big weaknesses, and it’s on a micro level and a bigger level, is we’re critiquing each other all the time. And there’s this hierarchy of forms of organizing. We can talk about history and what’s been effective, and I think that’s useful, but that’s really different than putting down this group or that group because you don’t like the decision they made or… We need to think about historical oppression and we need to think carefully about when we talk about identity, saying, men can’t speak in this space, for example.

So how do we do that? How do we organize in a way where we’re all coming together doing this united front? Yes. What does that look like? So that for me is how do we do that? What does that look like? And one of those things is thinking about how we critique one another. It is something when we’re scared, when we feel weak or disempowered, it’s so much easier to just kind of attack somebody else. [inaudible] we see it in our smaller group meetings or assemblies or whatever, and then we see it in a big picture, and we have to stop and put that somewhere else. And that’s part of it.

The other piece I wanted to say, and it’s going back to something Faye said a little earlier, has to do with the stories that are told, the narratives about us. You started with a great story about your small town and who’s telling the story about what’s happening with logging. And that stories are told to us about us, these big narratives about how weak we are, how we’re only out for ourselves, all of these things that are untrue. So thinking about how we counter those narratives and amplify what’s actually going on already. So much is going on. It’s actually really an inspiring time as well as a scary time. We focus too much on the negative and not amplifying so much of what is going on around the country, around the world, that we then buy into that story about us that’s wrong. If we told the real story, the real news, the real story, things would look different, I think.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                 So, Marina, I want to follow up on a story that you were telling before we got started about something taking place on your campus, where there was this sort of right-wing push against a professor. But I want to not just look at that incident. I’ve been thinking since the San Francisco recall election, it seems to me that one of the big problems among progressives is that we’ll make assertions and demands without a mass base, and the right wing knows that and they take advantage of it. So in the case of San Francisco, when there were demands, for example, to change the names of schools, a symbolic fight. In the absence of winning over a base that really gets that and thinks that that’s important, it’s very self-promotional.

So how do we address this? I mean, the incident you were talking about in your school of a right-winger coming after a professor, what I started wondering is that, and you could tell the story, the professor just seemed to have an idea that most of us would accept as common sense. But was the foundation led for that? Was that professor prepared for this kind of counter attack? So you might want to tell us a little bit about what happened.

Marina Sitrin:                           I mean, just a teeny bit of background, but it’s important because it’s a story that’s happening in a lot of places around the US and around the world depending where we want to talk about. But this particular case is a professor who had on their syllabus that they use something called progressive stack. So certain kinds of movements use this language and have used this language. It’s thinking about a stack, like you would a deck of cards, and you shuffle it, depending who speaks when. It has to do with power and privilege. She included a number of things from race to gender to shyness, implicating potential trauma, all kinds of things and that she was going to ask people, or she is asking people to step back as some of the language and the movements, to wait and not speak immediately, and she particularly identified white men among them.

So this white student grabbed onto it, went to places like Fox News, was interviewed. It went into all kinds of internet sites, which the far right is actually very good at dominating and intervening in. She was attacked, personally threatened. Her name was published everywhere. Her teaching assistants’ names were published. But part of what’s important in this story is not only that this is happening right now and then there was a response. The administration of the university made her change her syllabus. They’re now, they’re being sued for this and other things by people on the far right, for right spaces being shut down by left or progressive folks.

But this discussion even of what do we do is falling a lot into letter-writing petitions and asking the administration to change their position. That’s not bad. That’s fine. Like, that’s good. Let’s do that. And. And what else are we doing? And what else are we doing? So my sense is this is taking place in a lot of areas, a lot of campuses, a lot of different spaces, and we are not organizing the popular conversation enough about it. The teach-ins, the speak-outs, the talking to one another. Speaking to those same institutions that are afraid of the far right and who have propagated them isn’t actually what’s going to help. It would be great if they came out and supported us, but it’s the speaking to each other. And I think that’s part of this conversation. How do we counter that when that happens and support the people who are individually attacked?

Because what the far right is also doing, as Ash-Lee mentioned, they’re coming after people by name: their jobs, their homes. They are people who, especially people who’ve been in the street mobilizing, and we can’t let that happen. That’s something that’s part of the mobilizing. So our mobilizing and our organizing has to include physically protecting people. So that goes to things like accompaniment, which has been going on in different ways. We’ve seen it. We can talk about it. But we have to think broadly, tactically, as far as what we’re doing when we’re creating this movement base and this united front.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Can I build on that too?

Marc Steiner:                                Please.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:    The other thing that the right is getting really good about, especially in relationship to campus organizing, is they do the teach-ins. They do all of these things that we’re recommending that the left do. Then when they are held accountable for white supremacist interventions that they’re doing on these campuses, they’re using first amendment defenses that is actually in no small way freezing academic administrations from being able to do anything about it. So I think there’s a real need for a concrete assessment of the concrete conditions of the right using not only rural communities and faith-based communities and other spaces as organizing fiefdoms, they are absolutely vying for power in the academy, both in an offensive way and a defensive way.

Marc Steiner:                            That’s really important. As you were speaking, I was thinking, oh, I’d like to play this game for a minute. And the game is people in this room, this virtual room of ours, are organizing to seize the future, or organizing to win this battle of the future. The question is, I just want to know what form does that take? I mean, let me just throw a couple of things out. A, unions are critical to that, but unions’ power has been diminished. It’s beginning to move now, but we also know it’s been diminished and it always had been a huge part of many movements in this country. So that’s an important component to me.

And you watch, I had this discussion the other night with some people about the Spanish Civil War. I think about these conversations I had many moons ago with a Spanish Civil War veteran in his apartment. He’s saying, we would’ve won the Spanish Civil War if we weren’t so busy fighting each other. So there’s some lessons in some of that, and the question is how do we build it? Literally, what do we do? I mean, right now, it seems like a lot of the movement we see going on is inside the Democratic Party, and no matter I was saying it should be or shouldn’t be, I’m just saying it’s inside the Democratic Party. That’s what it feels like at the moment, other than demonstrations in the street. So let’s have at it for a minute, just all of us. So where do we go from here? How does that get built? How do we respond?

Faye Guenther:                            Honestly, when you were saying that, I was thinking we may have to have some fights, because I don’t think yet that we have clarified what our main goals and purposes are. I’m going to speak for the labor movement because that’s what I’m most familiar with. We’re at our lowest numbers ever, the lowest the labor movement has ever been. If the labor movement isn’t willing to have the fights that it needs to have with itself about racial justice, gender justice, all of the inequalities that have faced workers at work and those that have been left behind and cut out, then the labor movement is just broken and trying to stand up on a two-legged – One-legged stool, perhaps. There’s still fundamental fights that have to be had in labor about what the role of workers are, rank and file workers.

You saw Teamsters, TDU just go through a 20-year battle where one member, one vote for the top leadership of the international. If our own unions, if our own internationals and our own local unions won’t take on racial justice and racial equality and gender justice and gender equality, then we can’t truly – Or doesn’t even believe that we should be aligned with community partners or believe that we should just keep spending all this money on the Democratic Party who keeps being unable to deliver for working people. There’s some fundamental fights we have to have within the labor movement, within the progressive movement, within whatever movement you want, the workers’ movement, this whole united front.

We’ve attempted three times to build the Alliance for Resistance and Power in the State of Washington, and it breaks down because we can’t get to what are those broad issues that will unify and create the united front that Ash-Lee was talking about? We have to have the fights so that we can unify ourselves, in my humble opinion. So I don’t think we can stop fighting because we haven’t settled the things that we should be advocating together in our new united front majority.

Marc Steiner:                          Sitrin, leap in. Just go at it, please.

Marina Sitrin:                                So I’m not totally clear, Faye. Like, I don’t want to… I’m thinking about, like, disagreement, I mean, depending what we’re talking about, racism, sexism, homophobia. No, we’re not talking, that’s okay. But disagreement, I think we all have a lot of disagreement, and I think that’s not only okay, I think that is how we move forward. It is in our differences, and we find those things coming together on the basis that I know we agree on, and that probably the far right would agree with 50%. Their base would agree with a lot of things that we’re talking about, even the far right: basic needs being met, certain fundamental questions, self-determination less so. So that’s going to be a difference. But something, and it’s going to sound simple but I don’t think it is, is how we listen to each other, that we take the time to do that in whatever that movement space is or in that neighborhood or in talking to people.

In the movements that I’ve seen more recently over the past 20 or 30 years, the really large ones that I would say have been really successful not just in achieving whatever their stated goals are, but successful in that people in them say they feel different. They feel dignified. They feel cared for and they care for one another, are movements the Plataforma, this movement in Spain that started around 2008 with a housing crisis and has continued. It is about fighting to make sure people don’t lose their homes if they have mortgages and they’re not evicted if they’re renters. Then it’s moved towards, over the years, occupying huge buildings to have people live in them. And we’re not talking about a place that’s so different than the United States that it’s absurd. People would’ve said it was absurd in Spain earlier, and it was not.

One of the core things that happens in all of these meetings when people come together is they start by telling their stories. At first I must say, I got there and I was like, this feels a little social-worky. It feels like people are talking about hardship in their day-to-day life. But by people talking and sharing stories, they were building that trust, and that care and that trust made people way more militant. Then it’s, you’re being evicted. I’m going to put myself on the line and stand in front of your house and not let the police do it. Or if you were in the 1930s that happened in the United States, we’re going to go back into your house and we’re going to open the locks and we’re going to move you back in. And these are regular people. These are your neighbors. These are my neighbors.

So that listening as a piece of it across difference is really huge as one of many, many, many pieces. But that’s something I wanted to make sure we say also, because I think so many people are feeling silenced right now. So I’m a woman. I can’t talk about race. You appear white-skinned. You can’t… Or I’m a white woman, I can’t talk about race. You don’t speak Spanish, so you can’t speak about migrant communities. We do this and it makes it so we can’t listen to each other. So we have to find ways to say, my voice is heard more when we’re talking about gender, but it doesn’t mean yours is silent. Does that make sense?

Marc Steiner:                              Makes a lot of sense.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                          Yeah, absolutely.

Marina Sitrin:                                That’s the other piece that I’d really like us to get to, because I think we’re really stuck.

Marc Steiner:                                 Ash-Lee.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    Ash-Lee.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:      Oh, gosh. So many thoughts.

Marc Steiner:                                 Well, go ahead with them then.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:      I think first I hear my daddy, he’s a missionary Baptist preacher from Memphis, Tennessee in my head saying, ain’t nothing to it but to do it. I feel we spend so much time talking about what we might do that we rarely get to the actual doing of it, and by the time we do it’s tactical spaghetti at the wall because of the level of crisis. So I’m excited about the folks that, yes, want a strategy. I’m a strategist. I believe in strategy and want to analyze the current conditions and sum up what we’re supposed to have been learning over the last several years that have gotten us closer to fascism than I ever expected to live. I think some of it is just we’re getting past our fear of failure and disappointment and experimenting and just trying some things, summing it up, applying it to our theories and strategies, and trying again.

I think what 2020 opened up for us electorally was that people didn’t listen to Black people. People didn’t listen to immigrants. People didn’t listen to queer folks. People certainly didn’t listen to Southerners who said Trump was about to win a second term. And then in August they were like, oh my goodness. Trump is about to win a second term. And so guess what happened? Things like the Frontline were developed because we needed to come together across our differences to ensure that Trumpism was not going to be the name of the day in the general populace even if we knew that neoliberalism wasn’t going to come and save us.

So we have an example of what it was like for people in labor, folks that were in healthcare, folks that were doing democracy work, folks that were doing racial justice work, folks that were on the front lines of immigration, folks that were doing gender justice battles, trans folks, all sorts of folks coming together in a multiracial, multi-ideological, Black-led united front. And we didn’t make it all the way to a united front. What we did was build a hell of a campaign, and it worked. What we also assessed was that we were going to need to stay together into the first of the year through Biden’s first 100 days. What we learned is that we don’t have stamina, that people are tired, that they’re facing crises that are intersecting and impacting their everyday lives and the work that they do while they’re getting attacked. So I think we’ve got some real work to do around stamina in our movement.

We’ve built, yes, movements will always ebb and flow. But some of that is also based on how much we’re willing to just put our nose to the grindstone and actually get this work done. I think that we need to be really intentional about naming what this moment is as we go forward, that the Dems will very likely lose the House, if we’re being honest. And if that does happen, then we need to be spending the next few years really gearing up for what it might mean that our best case scenario is Trump getting the GOP nomination. At worst, someone like Abbot or DeSantis gets it, and then we’re really in for a world of hurt.

So what are we doing now, both in training and leadership development but also in strategy and infrastructure building and power building and just, again, to the points of my colleagues have made about being in relationship, using relationship as infrastructure to prepare ourselves for what might be a really hard row to hoe over the next decade? I think there’s some really incredible work that’s moving. I know Faye talked about Idaho. I think about United Vision for Idaho and the incredible work that they did to not make an assumption about why people were supporting Donald Trump, but to actually text every Trump voter in the state of Idaho to say why did it happen? And not even in an adversarial way, but in a way that’s trying to listen to our neighbors about why they’re being pulled by the ray.

They’ve now done that in North Carolina. My understanding is that they’re moving to do that in New York. They’re working with the Women’s March and showing up for racial justice to text all of these voters. Then we’ll move into the process of what it means to be able to peel those folks back to us that we had, quite frankly, abandoned and assumed they were just backwards and to be isolated. So I think there are examples of really incredible work like that, like the Frontline that are really doing excellent work that we can support.

Certainly, I think the biggest thing that we ought to be doing is trusting that our people understand the truth. They don’t have to be convinced about what the truth is. And they understand nuance. I think we need that both in our mass movements, but quite frankly I think that’s the antidote to I think some of the internal dramas and navel gazing of our social movements right now, is that we can understand that things are bad, that we are living in a world that is not the world that we deserve while building the world that we deserve and want and believe in the beloved global community, but that those two things sometimes are going to be in contradiction with one another. So we’ve got to figure out how to roll and chew gum at the same time in that context, that nonprofit-industrial complex is trash and some of us are using that to actually liberate our folks. All of those things can be true at the same time.

To be honest, I don’t feel my assessment is that the far right is the reason that we’ll lose all of the fights that we’re in. I actually don’t think that’s true. I think we’re closer to winning than we’ve ever been. And in fact, some of our movements are on the uptick. But if we allow money, ego, and credit to destroy us, if we allow not being intentional and disciplined and rigorous and understanding what is us and what are right-wing attacks that are sowing discord amongst us, then we will miss the moment. We’ll get to the finish line and trip over our own shoelaces.

I think that we have to be real with our folks that movement building isn’t always fun and sexy and healing, and those cultural interventions that make our power building work so delicious. Sometimes it’s really challenging and it’s hard. I think if we were honest with ourselves and our people as they enter that this isn’t medicine, social movements are not doctors, that we would figure out ways that we can build healing spaces for folks while they also hold really hard work in a really hard time. I feel hopeful. I don’t think it’s naive to be excited about the next few years of movement building, but I do think that that optimism has to be informed.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                       So I want to take that and throw in another challenge that I see. It’s very common for folks to say, we should unite all that can be united against our opponents. But there’s this tendency that I’ve run across a lot in progressive circles that I’ll call the yeah, but response. So people will say, oh, yeah, we should unite. But on the other hand, not so fast on some of these liberals. Or not so fast on this particular end. And so they’ll pay homage to the idea of unity, but it’s always unity with an asterisk.

So the question is, given who we’re up against, but also given that both demographically and politically, the majority of people, at least in the United States, are in opposition to the right, how do we build and what does it look like? How do we build the kind of unity that’s necessary, recognizing the challenges in building that unity? That there will be people that will come together that we will often despise, but we need to have them in the room? How do we bring together groups where there are political differences that are significant, but we nevertheless have to have them in the room? How do we address these challenges? And also, organizationally what does this mean? Marina, why don’t you start?

Marina Sitrin:                         So I think it’s like, how do we make that room, Bill, for all of us? Yes, we’re all going to come into that room, but how do we make that room? And what I do think is important, there’s all of so much difference. That can be a good thing, especially in learning from one another and being willing to shift. So letting the ego go. But how do we build that room? I mean, the intentionality even behind how the conversation happens.

So looping back to actually this professor in my university, but a lot of people who do this, this idea of progressive stack or thinking about how do you have the conversation with one another? The nitty gritty is actually really important. We’ve all been in too many spaces where certain people dominate the conversation or certain groups dominate the conversation because they have access or resources or whatever or we’re all acting too polite. I don’t know what this is, but this, like, we’re not going to say out loud you’ve been talking too much. That’s not even. We need to say that. Or what you’re saying is so wacky that we need to give you some support. In Occupy, we saw this. We’ve seen this in a lot of places.

So how do we construct that space and actually think and learn from a lot of times in history when this has worked? How can you have a conversation with hundreds of groups, thousands of groups? The Movement for Black Lives brought together a lot of groups to come up with a consensus. How did that work? Let’s learn from how that worked and create spaces where people from very different backgrounds can come up with a plan. So some of it is just how we orchestrate it and organize it.

Marc Steiner:                            Faye, do you want to pick up on this?

Faye Guenther:                         Yeah. I was thinking about what Marina was talking about, and we use storytelling, like the best way to kind of crack through and get people to connect with each other is through their stories. Again, I was speaking for the labor movement and my experience is in the state of Washington. We represent lots of folks who work in the most rural places and the most urban places, meat packing and fish processing. Getting everybody into the room where they’re talking to each other, telling their stories, and then working on a unified set of issues that they’re trying to win regardless of their race, gender, class. Well, not necessarily class. Most of the people I work with are frontline essential workers who are all poor.

Then I think Ash-Lee was talking about we’re good at campaigns, but we’re not good at sustaining for a long period of time. That’s one of the reasons I really feel, whether it’s the organization that Ash-Lee works for or the labor movement, it’s building institutions that can withstand the ebb and flow of campaigns. If a campaign is built and it’s awesome and we win, everybody’s like, okay, bye. I’m going to go do this or that or this. We have to have institutions that can sustain that downtime in a campaign, in my opinion.

So it’s investing, and I was glad to hear Ash-Lee talk about her organization. I’ve been trying to figure out how to build a labor education organization here in the State of Washington outside the public system. I’m thinking, well, maybe I shouldn’t be doing that. Maybe I should just be, instead of duplicating somebody else’s work, maybe investing in that organization and maybe they can expand. It’s like, I think we also duplicate tons of work. We rebuild and do the same thing over and over again with these finite amounts of resources instead of very carefully saying, here’s how much money we have. Here’s how much resources we have. We already know that this, this, and this has been done. We’re not going to rebuild it. We’re going to maximize capacity in that organization. So I don’t think we’re being very careful with the limited resources we have. I think that would be very wise.

Something that we did at UFCW 21 is create a committee on the future that actually Bill helped facilitate to create a strategic plan about what was working, what wasn’t working, and very specific ways we were going to invest and build something different. I think it was that long-term strategic plan. We adopted it and now it’s implement, implement, implement. I do think that whatever we want to call ourselves, the united front of people who care about humanity, we need to be thinking strategically. We need to assess what our resources are, and we need to not duplicate the work somebody else has already done.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Yeah.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                 [crosstalk]

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Like, that last piece, Faye, is like gospel. I think we do duplicate, and it would be fine if we were duplicative in a way that increased capacity. But we’re duplicative in a way that is really tiny and not impactful. It’s not actually helpful. So I do think some merging and some intentionality and building strategy moving forward is important.

I think to this question, though, I don’t think there’s one room. I think it’s multiple rooms. I think the lessons from the Movement for Black Lives and from the Frontline are really intentional things that we should be summing up and sharing really broadly with movement building in this moment. The Movement for Black Lives is over 150 Black-led and Black-centered organizations from all over the country and now moving globally. And so we definitely have ideological differences and we still developed one of the most exhaustive policy platforms I’ve seen in my lifetime and have developed strategies together and are implementing work together.

So I think there are some lessons there, and I think there’s lessons from the Frontline about how to develop those kinds of campaigns. I agree with my comrade Faye that sustaining our momentum during the ebbs and flows of campaigns is going to be critical. But I also think it’s not just if you win. It’s how do we sustain our momentum and our stamina when we lose or when we don’t get everything we want, which is actually I think the crisis that we’re currently in.

I think, yes, the Biden administration is quantifiably different and qualitatively different than the Trump administration, but neoliberalism is also harmful to our people, and we’re seeing the evidence of that now. Though there was a lot of energy and resources put into ensuring that we would control the terrain that we were going to be fighting in in that way, now that we’re in it, the ability to sustain the stamina that we had built up over 2019 and 2020 is ebbing and we need to figure that out.

I think to me, there need to be multiple rooms. I think that there’s one conversation that we can have about what a united front looks like if it’s our basis. There’s another conversation if what we’re talking about is people and movement, social movement leadership are supposed to be coming together across our ideological differences, some of which never translates down to the base. Let’s be honest. Some of the reason orgs aren’t working together is because people in leadership are saying we shouldn’t, not because our bases don’t want to work together. In fact, I would imagine that the concrete assessment of concrete conditions is that those folks are probably figuring out ways to work with people that they don’t agree with all the time. Ask me how I know. Because in 2020, 26 million people were in the streets, and if you think they all agree on everything you would be grossly incorrect.

So to me, there’s a question about what it means to build a popular movement that is a little different to me than talking about strategic united fronts of social movement leadership, that it also includes our bases. I think the Frontline is a perfect example of that. It was a Black-led, multiracial, multi-ideological space, and there were multiple rooms to get in. There was a space for leadership development, political education to make meaning of the moment together. There were war rooms to just be able to track what was happening and to get people support on the ground when they needed it. There were spaces where organizations got marching orders and they went and did their own things and we came back together until we reached a line of demarcation where we decided to take a break.

There, to me, is a need for an assessment of the time, place, and conditions in which united fronts are useful. It’s a tool, it’s a container. There’s also a need to be intentional about you, whoever is watching that is in a left organization that is like, I would never rock with those liberals. And that’s the line of demarcation. I’m certainly not talking to no right-wing forces that also agree that fascism ain’t what we want. That’s fine. But that might mean that some other people need to do that and then you be able to use the information that they get. So I think there’s multiple rooms and multiple ways of giving organizations and social movements directives to be able to build out a broader than us front. If we could win just as the segmented and pretty tiny left, we would’ve won already.

Marc Steiner:                        So –

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:    The last thing that I would say is this thing about identity, because it keeps coming up. Frankly, it’s coming up in all of our organizations. It’s coming up in all of our communities. It’s coming up in all of our movements. This thing around who gets to speak and be centered is, to me, again another overcorrection of the left. The point here is that everybody has a say, and how much say should be equitable based on people that are directly impacted not being told what are solutions to the problems that they are the experts in because they’re experiencing them every day.

So what I think we’re seeing in this generational shift in the 21st century of social movements is the weaponization of identity, not identity politics. It’s not identity politics. This isn’t a war of identity politics. This is about the weaponization of identity, whether it’s the way that the white right is weaponizing identity, talking, I think, about Mav Seacrest and her incredible work over decades and the amount of work that she’s done, particularly around white nationalism. She used to say that white nationalists have a lot to learn from the past. That the civil war killed 800,000 people, so if you want to talk about white genocide and you’re encouraging civil war, then you’re actually also promoting white people being harmed. So there’s a lot to be done right now both on the side of the right to get real about the consequences of weaponization of identity against other people. But I also think for those of us with marginalized identities, we have a lot of study to do to not just be weaponizing identity and then calling it identity politics when really it’s not rooted or grounded in any sort of ideological practice.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:              So we’re going to need to move towards the end. You were talking about the issue of sustainability and stamina. Even though there are particularities to the moment that we’re in with the COVID pandemic, I’ve seen this movie before. I mean, I have. I’ve seen the urgency in opposing conservatives or the right wing. And then what you described, this lack of sustainability and the lack of translating this need, this momentum into organization. Why does this keep happening? I feel like this is Groundhog Day. Why is it that we keep seeing this similar phenomenon? And there’s variations on it obviously, and people saying, oh, I can’t do any work unless I get paid, things like that. There’s all kinds of things like that. But the larger issue of sustainability and stamina, what’s behind that?

Marc Steiner:                      And also I’d like to hear that in the context of, not to leave us on a negative note, you know what I’m saying? What –

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:    We’ll preach him up. We’ll preach him up, Marc.

Marc Steiner:                           [laughs] I mean, the danger you even talked about, Ash-Lee, you said that in the next election, that the right wing could take over the House of Representatives. That could really easily happen, and the Senate as well. So I think that to think about what that means for the battle for the future and knowing what we’re up against. I’m not usually a pessimistic person, and I’m doing my damnedest to keep that optimism rolling because of what we face. So take it from there in our few minutes we have left to close it out for us and –

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                 I’m going to take issue with this whole thing about the midterm elections by the way, but –

Marc Steiner:                       Oh, you are?

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    Oh, yeah.

Marc Steiner:                             What you got to say?

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                                    [Marc laughs] What I have to say, now that you’ve asked, is that I think that since November 2020, liberals have been predicting that the midterm elections are going to be a disaster, that there’s been a fatalism that has infected the movement where people basically think it’s a foregone conclusion. And very little taking into account the unusual nature of the moment that we’re in, including that there was a coup attempt on January 6, pandemic, all of these other things. So I just think we have to… And Ash-Lee, I’m not trying to jump on your case, but I just think that we have to be –

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:       No, [crosstalk]

Bill Fletcher Jr.:             – Careful about the predictions we make because they can become self-fulfilling. But anyway, that’s an editorial note. So [crosstalk]

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:      Sure. No. Let’s talk about it. I wish it was as simple as self-fulfilling. I think it’s actually in relationship to neoliberals not showing up and fulfilling their promises. So I think there’s a way to approach the assessment that I do think is some pessimistic stuff. But I think what’s real is there’s only going to be so many times where we can tell grassroots communities that this is the most important election of their lives and they actually still show up. Plus the amount of voter suppression that has passed, and then the federal legislative branch couldn’t even give us one of the two voting rights bills that would’ve made it possible for people like me to vote in my state and actually have a chance in hell of expecting it to be counted.

So I think it’s more than just… It’s less to me. I don’t really state my political assessments on what’s coming from the Democratic Party, but I do think that there are some concrete assessments of concrete conditions that are going to make the midterms really hard. I think the flip side of that coin is that if we are to see… I’m hearing Marc be like, but give them some hope!

My hope is that what I know to be true is that the people that have consistently been showing up to save any vestige of democracy in this country have been Black people, particularly Black women. And the folks that have not have been particularly Black men who voted for Trump in the double digits, white women who continue to support someone who hates them. Who hates them. Trump hates white women in particular. But they show up and show out for him. I’m thinking about the moms, the women of the insurrection, Moms for Liberty, who are taking over school board meetings all over the country right now in a very similar fashion to what we were talking about earlier, or a very similar politic of what we were talking about earlier on the right. So I think all of those things combined is what I think gives us a realistic concern. Because if it is expected that Black women are going to break themselves and pull out the House out of their flesh again this year, I think they might be really confused about the capacities and priorities of Black women in this political moment in particular. I think that’s my concern about the midterms.

But I think to this question about where we go from here, what I know is I remember sitting in maybe this third meeting of a thing that ended up being called the Movement for Black Lives. In that meeting, I asked the question, what are the impossible things that only become possible if we do them together? I said, what are the impossible things that only become possible if we do them together? Because I think if we don’t ask ourselves on the left or progressives, liberal forces don’t ask ourselves these questions, we’ll do what my dad says. My dad says, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

That’s why this feels familiar, Bill, because the left keeps throwing the same tactical edges like the right didn’t learn from what folks did in the ’50s and ’60s or in the ’20s and ’30s before that. I was cracking up in my head when Faye was talking about labor schools, because the AFL-CIO wouldn’t have ever merged if it wasn’t for the Highlander Center. We were the labor school. And partly why we didn’t get any funding is because we were the ones that were talking about race and class and gender and, and, and. We were having dangerous and forbidden conversations on the left.

So I think we have to be asking ourselves that question and figuring out how do we make those impossible things possible together? Otherwise, we’re just going to keep on getting what we always got because we’re doing what we’ve always done. A united front and a coalition are not the same thing.

Last, I think the thing that gives me hope if I’m looking at lessons from the right, is that the right actually had a 50-year strategy. When the state mandated that seminaries in particular integrate white supremacists, Christian supremacists that would’ve said let’s keep church and state separate, made a decision that they were going to get into politics and they developed a 50-year strategy that led to things like the wedge of the Tea Party, that have led to things like other Christian supremacist organizations, white nationalist organizations that are actually building political power on the ebbs of a social movement strategy that they built 50 years ago.

I think if we don’t get into the business of thinking about long-term strategy, and I don’t mean just a 5, 10-year strategy, if we aren’t talking about 50, 100 year work, then I think we’re going to miss the mark. But I know that there are incredible grassroots movement leaders all over this country, particularly in this – Y’all know I’m a Southern supremacist and I believe that as goes the South, so goes the nation isn’t an opinion, it’s a fundamental fact. I know that some of the best organizers and strategists and theoreticians, practitioners, movements, scientists, like M Adams and Thenjiwe Mcharris and others are doing that sacred work, [Verby Shaw 00:58:59], Maurice Mitchell. I think about the Working Families Party. It might not be the only party that gives us an alternative to this wacky two-party system, but it certainly is a viable alternative right now.

So I think people are building infrastructure like the Southern Movement Assembly and M4BL and all of these other things that inform my optimism. I think that the grassroots organizations that are coming together across difference to figure out since 1932 are also why I know we can win and we can upset this pattern that we’re in where we focus too much on the right, or we fo focus too much on the liberals, or we navel gaze too much on ourselves without answering this question of what do we need? What is required of us in this moment to make the impossible things that we deserve possible in our lifetime? So I believe that we’ll win and I think that it’s possible. I think if we use the next several years to really gear up, we’ll be ready for it.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                         Faye.

Marc Steiner:                          – Come to take us home.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                        Thank you.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:      Yeah, sure.

Faye Guenther:                         Oh, well the best thing about 2022 so far is that I got to meet Ash-Lee. So thank you for inviting me here.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     [inaudible]

Faye Guenther:                         I don’t really get that upset that it’s just repeating over and over again, because I think of that story of, I think it’s lemmings that run across the river and there’s bodies that are used to build a bridge and then some folks get over, some of those animals get to the other side. I think when you are talking about the United States specifically, there is a power. I mean, it was built, it was designed to have a brutal form of capitalism rule us. It was built on the wealth of slavery and stealing people’s land. The folks that want to stay in power want to stay in power really, really badly. And every time we create new tactics to win, they find new tactics to push us back, and it doesn’t really upset me as long as we keep fighting. It doesn’t demoralize.

Think about how many times you have to set up an organizing committee, or how many times you try to teach a baby to walk. It takes hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times to teach all of these things and to figure out how to build a sustainable resistance. So it just never stops. The fight for power, those who want to have power over others, especially in a country that is based on patriarchy and white supremacy, it’s just that is the power structure that certain people want to have in the United States. So I don’t get that upset about it. It’s just, it is what it is.

On the hope front, I know this is a little bit outside, maybe, of our conversation, but this fight in Ukraine and the resistance that people have shown, even though their military is smaller, their resistance against Putin, I have felt inspired by their resistance. There was this particular interview with a woman, and she was holding a baby. And she said, I’m going to stay here and fight in Ukraine. I can’t carry a gun because I’m carrying this baby, but I’m going to use my words and do everything I can to resist this takeover. I think that, to me, the hopeful part is that all of us should be as courageous as we can be. She can’t obviously be out in the streets fighting, she’s got a baby. But she can do so much. So each of us has to figure out how to be courageous and brave. We’re all trying to figure that out. And so that gives me a lot of hope. So that’s all I have to say.

Marc Steiner:                                That’s plenty. Lots.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                     That’s a wonderful way to end this. Yeah.

Marc Steiner:                          Amen to that.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    I want to thank you both very much for this. It’s exactly the kind of discussion that we wanted to have, and it leaves the listener and viewer with plenty to think about and to be inspired by. So I want to thank you both very much.

Marc Steiner:                      I feel the same. I mean, you took the words out of my mouth. This has been a great discussion. It’s interesting that this great powerful discussion came with three women, I think it is also no mistake. I want to thank the three of you for being with us here this hour. This has been a really good conversation, and we will be linking to your work so all the people can see the stuff you’re doing on our website here, and we look forward to more conversations. I really think we really have to get something moving in this country to get people together to start talking.

I think one of the things that really struck me about what both of you said is the importance of stories, the importance of people sharing and how that is at the heart of organizing and the heart of getting people to come together because they feel their commonality. I think that was just very, really important. And so thank all of you for the work you do. You’re doing important work out there organizing the unions and the stuff at the Highlander Center. These things are just critical to the future, and I want to thank you all for being here today. It’s been a great conversation.

Marina Sitrin:                            Thank you.

Ash-Lee Woodward Henderson:     Thanks so much for having us.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                   Thank you. Thank you.

Faye Guenther:                         Exactly.

Marc Steiner:                        We ain’t done yet. We ain’t done yet. So I’m Marc Steiner here with Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                  That’s me.

Marc Steiner:                          I want to thank our crew here as well for doing what they did. Stephen Frank and Kayla Rivara and Dwayne Gladden for all their work here behind the scenes, making this thing hit. And write to me here at mss@therealnews.com and we’ll write you right back. I’ll share them with Bill and we’ll get back to you on your thoughts on where to take this conversation, about what to do about the right and what we’re building in this country and how to do it together. We’re going to continue this dialogue as much as possible in the coming year given everything we’re facing and what we have to do together as a people. So it was great to have you with us. So I’m Marc Steiner. He’s Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                  Bill Fletcher.

Marc Steiner:                               This has been great. Glad we did this.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                  It has been, absolutely. Thank you all for joining us in this program, and the struggle certainly continues.

Marc Steiner:                             A luta continua [Portuguese; The struggle continues].

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                    That’s right.

Marc Steiner:                               That’s it. All right.

Bill Fletcher Jr.:                       Thank you.

Marc Steiner:                                So take care, stay strong, and stay involved.

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Host, The Marc Steiner Show
Marc Steiner is the host of "The Marc Steiner Show" on TRNN. He is a Peabody Award-winning journalist who has spent his life working on social justice issues. He walked his first picket line at age 13, and at age 16 became the youngest person in Maryland arrested at a civil rights protest during the Freedom Rides through Cambridge. As part of the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, Marc helped organize poor white communities with the Young Patriots, the white Appalachian counterpart to the Black Panthers. Early in his career he counseled at-risk youth in therapeutic settings and founded a theater program in the Maryland State prison system. He also taught theater for 10 years at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From 1993-2018 Marc's signature “Marc Steiner Show” aired on Baltimore’s public radio airwaves, both WYPR—which Marc co-founded—and Morgan State University’s WEAA.

Bill Fletcher Jr. has been an activist since his teen years and previously served as a senior staff person in the national AFL-CIO; he is the former president of TransAfrica Forum, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, and the author of numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including ‘They’re Bankrupting Us!’ And 20 Other Myths about Unions and The Man Who Fell from the Sky. Fletcher Jr. is also a member of The Real News Network Board of Directors.