How to Organize a City: Bill Fletcher, Jon Liss, and Gihan Perera in conversation

Thursday, April 25, 2013 from 6.30 – 8.30 pm in the Recital Hall

The Graduate Center, CUNY. Free and open to the public.

How can urban social movements cohere with existing institutions of power, from unions to local government? As importantly, how can movements collaborate with each other to achieve broader, systemic changes? Can these movements and political projects realistically be anti-capitalist? Activists and leaders Bill Fletcher, Jon Liss, and Gihan Perera will discuss these issues in an open forum.

BILL FLETCHER, JR. is the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum; a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies; an editorial board member of; and in the leadership of several other projects. Fletcher is the co-author (with Peter Agard) of “The Indispensable Ally: Black Workers and the Formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, 1934-1941″; the co-author (with Dr. Fernando Gapasin) of “Solidarity Divided: The crisis in organized labor and a new path toward social justice“; and the author of “‘They’re Bankrupting Us’ – And Twenty other myths about unions.” Fletcher is a syndicated columnist and a regular media commentator on television, radio and the Web.

JON LISS has organized for racial and social justice in Virginia for the last 30 years. Between 1979-1981, he organized for the creation of an African American Studies department as a student at the University of Virginia. He graduated with a B.A. in History in 1981, and continued his organizing for US divestment in the South African Apartheid regime. From 1983-1984, he served as an elected leader of a taxi drivers association. In 1986, Jon co-founded Tenants and Workers United (TWU), a low-income racial and gender justice organization based in the Arlandria-Chirilagua neighborhood. Jon served as the Executive Director of TWU until 2011. In 2007 he co-founded Virginia New Majority and currently serves as both a board member and as the organization’s Executive Director.

GIHAN PERERA is co-founder and former Executive Director of the Miami Workers Center, a community organizing institution for low-income Black and Latino communities in South Florida. His decade-plus leadership of the center helped turn it into a national peer anchor to a number of strategic initiatives including the US Social Forum, the Right to the City Alliance, and a number of other efforts to build the theory, practice and capacity of work happening at the intersection of race, gender, the economy and the environment. He is currently the Executive Director of the Florida New Majority, a statewide civil rights and civic engagement organization that is working to connect and empower Florida’s diverse communities.

Moderated by David Harvey, Director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics.


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