What keeps you going when the odds are against you? Why do you keep fighting?
We reflected on that important question recently at our Annual Membership Meeting, hearing from many of our members about why they stay in the fight. They don’t want their city to become totally unrecognizable to them. They fight for the futures of their children and grandchildren, and for their right to live in the city of their birth. They fight because they are angry.
We are fighting for DC together – and together we will win.
As the year comes to a close, please keep fighting with us by making a donation in any amount to support our work, and help us raise $20,000 during our end of year fundraising campaign. Funds raised at the end of the year are critical to continue our community organizing efforts that build the power of DC’s low and moderate income residents, particularly the predominately Black communities we represent who are facing displacement from our city.
The battles we take on are not easy wins. We take on important but long fought efforts that reflect the priorities of our members. Like in Ivy City, a community that has fought to see its historic Alexander Crummell School turned into a community center for decades. Empower DC has worked alongside them since our founding, through four Mayoral administrations, broken promises, a lawsuit, and a resident-led development proposal. That battle is not over.
When Empower DC started organizing with Barry Farm residents who are resisting displacement from their community 5 years ago, we made that same long term commitment. We will stay as long as necessary. This year we joined with Barry Farm Tenants and Allies Association, a tenants’ association we organized and support, and the Washington Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights to file a discrimination lawsuit against the DC Housing Authority on behalf of Barry Farm residents. This is the third time we’ve been forced to sue the city because the rights of low income Black residents have been violated.
Empower DC is committed to building political power for public housing residents. Since July, our Public Housing Organizing Fellowship participants visited 15 public housing communities, knocked on over 3,000 doors and talked to hundreds of residents. By actively engaging residents and providing a vehicle for political action, we have galvanized public housing residents to join us in the fight to save and improve public housing – another long-term fight that we are committed to.
We are also building political power through civic education. Since May, over 250 people from all Wards of the city have attended our workshops on DC’s Comprehensive Plan, and how to fight displacement through planning and zoning.
Building true grassroots power takes time.
Overcoming systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, and barriers to participation takes time. Forging relationships, empowering leaders, and building public and political will to make a real change – that takes time too.
As we celebrate our 15th Anniversary next year, we are proud of the victories we have won along the way. Primary among them is sustaining an independent, grassroots, people of color‐led organization – one that has provided a vehicle for impacted people in the struggle.
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress” Frederick Douglass taught us.
Don’t be discouraged. Don’t give up. Your efforts are not in vain. We are on the side of justice, and the story of our work will be told to future generations. The most important part of that story will be how we kept fighting and never gave up on our vision for our city.
Your support makes that possible. Let’s stand together. Let’s fight together. Let’s win together. Because together we are powerful!
Parisa B. Norouzi, Executive Director
*All donations are tax-deductible.