WASHINGTON — One of the most prominent organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement announced that Michelle Alexander and Angela Davis are among the multicultural advocates joining its advisory board.
The Florida-based social justice group Dream Defenders announced the addition of 10 members to the group's advisory board Friday, saying that it's important for the broader public to know how the group is growing and that board reflects the the deep connections to a broad set of communities the organization has fostered since its inception three years ago.
"We're doing everything on purpose right now," communications director Steve Pargett told BuzzFeed News. "And we're being very careful and taking the necessary time to build the organization that we, our community, and subsequently our supporters deserve."
"Since Dream Defenders started we've been carried by so many people around the country who have faith and hope we're as great as we think we can be. And in an effort to do things the right way over a period of time these are the people we trust, admire and respect to help us do that, " he said.
The board announcement came amid an abrupt, organization-wide reboot for the group, which has been highlighted publicly by a two-month fast from social media. The announcement of the social media "sabbatical" caused a stir inside pockets of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Social media does not, and never will, take the place of building deep relationships which are at the core of organizing," Selah said in a series of tweets explaining the sabbatical. "To change our communities, we must have power, not just followers."
Dream Defenders said it's pushing back at the notion that a social media-driven movement takes the place of actual organizing. "People actually think we've gone crazy," Pargett said.
Along with other activists, on Sept. 16, Dream Defenders Executive Director Umi Selah attended a meeting at the White House to discuss the work of the president's 21st Century Task Force on Policing. It was attended by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Roy Austin, the president's deputy assistant to the president.
In addition to Davis, the activist and scholar, and Alexander, an associate professor at the Ohio State and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Elijah Armstrong, a Dream Defenders organizer; Keron Blair, national director of Alliance to Reclaim our Schools; Alana Greer, attorney and co-founder of Community Justice Project, Inc.; Pastor Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California; Rafael Navar, National Political Director for the Communication Workers of America; Linda Sarsour, the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; and Ed Whitfield, co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities.
"I'm honored to learn with and from Dream Defenders; I've long admired you from afar and am excited to join a team of young people that I believe will advance the liberation movement," Davis said in a statement.
Dream Defenders said it will be ending its social media black out in November.
Darren Sands is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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