Calling All Radicals
How Grassroots Organizers Can Help Save Our Democracy

Thompson, Gabriel
Publisher:  Nation Books, USA
Year Published:  2007
Pages:  226pp   ISBN:  978-1-56858-367-9
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX8239

Thompson argues that we can reclaim our democracy through grassroots organizing.

Calling all Radicals is a work that attempts to transform the current social environment of the United States from one marked by political apathy and stagnation to one that is politically vibrant and directed towards positive social change through grassroots organization. Each chapter provides examples of the author engaging with community members to successfully campaign for change, in order to illustrate how easy and urgent it is for every ordinary member of society to get active. The campaigns are assessed according to the usefulness or inefficiency of the various organizing tactics employed, with an exploration of how they can be modified for the benefit of future organizers.

The author consistently frames his experiences and guidance in a way that will allow readers to recognize that they have the ability to influence things that affect them and their community.

The book sets out specific areas of discussion in each of its well-organized chapter. It begins with a simple definition of community organizing, and how it is different from social service and advocacy. Community organizing is defined as a process of creating leaders from underrepresented communities so that they can feel empowered and go on to challenge the status quo, rather than be perpetually dependant on the aid of others. The chapters then delve into the strategies for directly confronting those in power, and building relationships between members of the marginalized community itself. Issues such as how to break conventional notions of leaders as white men in suits in order to recognize leadership capabilities in every ordinary community member are addressed. Several chapters are dedicated to guidelines on how an organizer can fruitfully use surrounding resources, such as academic research and the media.

The final chapters deal with personal issues an organizer must confront. These vary from guidelines on embracing frustration that necessarily arises out of complex projects of social change, to discussions on how an organizer should unlearn his or her deeply conditioned biases and instead be persistent in concern for others. Calling All Radicals ends with a glossary of terms commonly used by organizers, and a list of resources and organizations in which future organizers can get involved.

[Abstract by Sara Jaffri]

Table of Contents

Community Organizers as Democracy Builders: Sparking a Revival by Going Beyond the Vote

Chapter 1
Please Remove Your Hat Before We Evict You: Changing the System through Community Organizing

Chapter 2
A Word of Enthusiasm: Direct Action Gets the Goods!

Chapter 3
A Word of Caution: The Forgotten Photograph

Chapter 4
The Wisdom of Ella Baker: Strong People don't need Strong Leaders

Chapter 5
Got a Problem, Prove It! Using Research to Support your Organizing

Chapter 6
Demystifying the Media: Getting the Coverage your Issue Deserves

Chapter 7
History is Power: Why Organizers Should Study Dead People

Chapter 8
Preparing for Frustration: The Montgomery Bus Boycott You Never Know

Chapter 9
What We Stand to Gain: The Journey of the Organizer

Organizing 101: A Glossary of Terms
Resources and Opportunities for Future Organizers
Further Reading

Subject Headings

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