In this episode of Press Play we visited Ana María Archila, the Co-Executive Director at the Center for Popular Democracy. We talked about change, the importance of protests and what are CPD’s priorities. The organization is based in Brooklyn and you can watch their videos at nyxt.nyc/cpd.
NYXT: What does democracy mean to you?
Ana María Archila: Democracy is how we will make sure that everyone has healthcare in this country. Democracy is how we will make sure that everyone has access to their basic necessities. Where people trust that the government is actually designed to facilitate people’s dignity and not to suppress their rights.
NYXT: Tell us about CPD’s vision.
AMA: So when we started CPD back in 2012 our vision was to connect community organizations across the country so that we could replicate the best ideas, the best victories, the best strategies, learn from each other and focus primarily on winning local and state fights on workers’ rights, on immigrants’ rights, on economic justice, on racial justice, on gender equity.
NYXT: What are CPD’s priorities?
AMA: When President Trump was elected, we realized that he was coming with a very big commitment to attack immigrant communities, and to destroy many of the victories that had been won by generations before: on women’s rights to choose what to do with their bodies, on LGBTQ rights and who gets to participate in our democracy. We need to fight back against the white nationalism that he represents and slow down the role of Congress in enabling his agenda.
NYXT: What are some of the challenges that CPD is working on?
AMA: So we started to fight back, initially to try to protect the ACA, the American Care Act. Then to fight back against the attacks on immigrant families, then to fight back against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and to engage thousands and thousands of people in that effort, and the center of our work continues to be the work of community organizations that are driven from the ground by grassroots leaders that are fighting to make sure that in every city and in every state workers have fifteen dollars and a union, that in every city and every state immigrant families are safe from the abuses of the federal government, that in every city and every state young people have decent schools, and people have housing and the ability to stay in their homes.
NYXT: What is the power of protests?
AMA: We think that protest is essential at this moment because we have a government where politicians are not really trained in listening to their communities, except when it comes to elections. And they are often working behind closed doors, only meeting with lobbyists, only talking to a very narrow group of people. Protest breaks through those barriers and forces them to show their faces, to listen to people, to feel accountable. People who have participated in powerful forms of protests never forget what it felt like to feel powerful, to feel courageous, to be surrounded by a sea of people that were doing the same. And those bonds that get formed through actions of courage and solidarity are bonds that remain for years and help people find hope in moments of darkness, find inspiration in moments of despair, and believe that is possible to build a new world, and that belief is necessary.
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