The 2008 YP4 National Summit!

Uploaded by YoungPeopleFor on 06.03.2008

And now it's time for you to show us what you're made of.
Vision without action is just a daydream.
We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Si... se... puede.
What is the American way?
Well, it's laid out in the Declaration of Independence.
It is all men created equal,
endowed by their creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It's equal opportunity --
it's equal opportunity under the law,
it's equal justice.
That's the American way.
Class of 2008, welcome to your Summit.
And welcome to the most innovative and effective youth leadership program in this country.
Welcome to Young People For.
So I started Young People For four years ago
around the great idea that young people need to be central to the progressive movement,
that young people can lead right now.
Leading up to the Summit, we've spent hundreds of hours getting ready for
this new class of fellows
and today was the -- this morning was the official launch
of their fellowship.
This room looks different.
You are 200 leaders from 90 campuses in 24 states.
You are a diverse group of leaders who represent the beautiful uniqueness of this country.
[music: "Now get busy!"]
So, the workshop we're about to do is about analyzing power dynamics,
and specifically, we're going to talk about power, privilege and oppression.
And the concept behind this training is that
if we're here to equalize power imbalances
and bring equality and equity to society,
we first really need to understand these power imbalances.
People like to see immediate results
and vision is a series of steps, a series of goals that aren't afraid to be achieved,
so it's difficult to get a group that's gonna be in it for the long haul.
Getting young people to vote in 2008,
while important,
is just one small part of a larger civic engagement and social change equation.
If you want the type of America
where words like civil liberties,
and God, and equal rights are not bad words,
then you have to be engaged.
And so for me that's "beyond the ballot."
Today was just a huge day of
learning and expanding your mind
through discussion and meeting people.
Specifically just now we did, like, a mini-reflection called a "fishbowl,"
summing up what you experienced or felt in a sentence or two.
And I can find all this hope here and I can take that back to Arkansas,
I can take that back to the South,
and tell people that, that hope is there and that change is coming.
And so that's really meant a lot to me.
What lies before us and what lies behind us
are small matters compared to what lies within us.
and freedom, man.
Hell yeah.
The theme for Saturday was developing innovative strategies,
and in line with that theme we had an amazing,
eloquent, inspiring keynote speaker: Van Jones.
We're living in an age of mass extinctions and an age of mass incarceration,
and we think the root is the same:
this view of disposability.
That we have throwaway people
and throwaway resources and throwaway species.
And we think it's all sacred.
In Van Jones you see the kind of leaders that we're investing in today,
to be able to do the kind of innovative work that Van Jones is doing across this country.
At just the young age of forty, he'sstarted the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights,
he's started Color of Change, and now Green For All.
He is passionate, he is visionary and he can turn his ideas into action.
That's what we want for Young People For fellows across this country.
Your generation has to do more than take America back.
If you stand together on a social uplift environmentalism,
your generation will do more than take America back.
Your generation will take America forward.
Thank you very much.
Right now we're here helping the fellows with their Blueprint coaching.
Me and another senior fellow,
we're making sure that they have enough resources
and hope that they can get as much done on campus --
or practically even more, if possible -- as we did
and hopefully make more change in the progressive movement.
So let's go ahead and share our thoughts,
and let's not be silent.
Let's share what we've learned and really share this space together.
Stop saying "trying."
We're not trying to do things --
we're working to do things, we're organizing to do things.
Trying is a gamble.
And we're here to challenge each other.
If we're not challenged, we're not going to go anywhere.
And I just want to really stress, don't be afraid.
If you don't agree with me, tell me.
If I don't agree with you, I'm gonna tell you.
While we accept one another's differences
and accept how we have different ideas about different things,
I would challenge everyone here to kind of... do that for everyone,
not just the progressives
and not just the people here.
I mean, especially the opposition.
You know,
just remember not to make assumptions about people
and not to place people into groups.
We are now at the third day of the National Summit.
It's Sunday.
The theme of today is "Where do we go from here? -- Beyond campus organizing."
In the education and leadership department, we talk about the issues that you care about,
the change you want to see in the world
and how we and our partners can help you turn your vision
into long-term careers.
Just this summer, each of our job-eligible fellows that entered our internship program
got jobs.
That's 100 percent.
And even more impressive,
fellows that hadn't even completed school yet
were offered full-time positions at their dream organizations,
where they actually had to re-evaluate their career paths and educational futures.
I've known that I've wanted to work toward social justice since I was 13 years old.
How do we tell those close people to us, that, you know,
we're going to be okay doing what we want to do?
The way that I've been able to negotiate that is just --
it's just having these conversations with my parents,
and like... the same thing, like organizing in the community,
talking to people about these real issues,
I mean I'm also trying to organize my family too.
And explaining to them,
"First of all, I understand where you're coming from.
That makes perfect sense.
You struggled so much to give me what you have
and I appreciate that so much."
But then also telling them, like,
"Look, I mean, there's real people struggling
and I want to fight for that, I want to fight for that for our families
and for people around us to live in more social justice."
Today, my favorite workshop was definitely elevator pitches,
learning how to talk about our issue,
which -- mine is women's rights.
It's been a lot of practical advice
that they've given me on how to be a leader,
how to analyze the issues, how to really effect change.
I'm just looking forward to going back to my campus
and starting my Blueprint.
Because I feel like I'm really well equipped now
and I know what I'm going to do.
The theme for Monday at the Summit was "bringing it home"
and we had a really incredible plenary session
at lunchtime where we honored and remembered Martin Luther King.
What is remarkable about Dr. King
and those who worked with him
was their committment to dreaming
even when dreaming seemed futile.
So our task
is not only to envison
a new America,
but it is also to commit ourselves
to working towards that America.
Come hell or high water,
we must commit ourselves to change.
The ownership of this institution is you.
The power, the direction -- if you like what's going on this weekend,
then make it last forever.
This is our time.
This is our space.
But let's not forget our challenge,
because our people are waiting on us.
And we are the ones that we've been waiting for.