|…Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
|…O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.
–Excerpts from Let America Be America Again, Langston Hughes (1936)
Langston Hughes’ classic poem, Let America Be America Again, could be considered a prescient reflection of our current times, but it is also a reminder of the long tumultuous struggle to achieve the idyllic dream of America. This hopeful dream and prospect of a fair, just, inclusive and equitable America has been usurped by a frightening and cynical nightmare that imperils the future for everyone. The campaign and election of the 45th President of the United States has ushered in a social and political era in this country that seeks to reverse and dismantle many of the hard fought gains won over the last 50 years that pushed the nation to protect, defend and include those at the social, economic, political and cultural margins of our society.
This is the fight of our lifetime and how we respond will shape our collective futures for a generation. While there are clear and present dangers that we must address, we also need to attend to mid and long-term threats that this era poses to our way of life and the prospects of realizing the dream of justice, fairness and equity that so many of us hold dear.
In response to this critical moment and threat to our democracy, the Hill-Snowdon Foundation in partnership with the General Service Foundation is launching the Defending the Dream Fund. We emphasize supporting the following in this Fund:
- Community Organizing & Power Building: We believe that it is even more critical to invest in community organizing and power building at the grassroots level to fight back and resist the draconian policies and practices that threaten the lives and the livelihoods of targeted and vulnerable communities.
- Multiple Issues, Immediate, Mid and Long-term & Intersectional Work: Given the breadth of the threats, we are open to considering requests that extend beyond the issues that we have typically supported (youth and economic justice organizing). Through this fund, we are interested in addressing the immediate and short term threats faced by targeted and vulnerable communities in the coming year, that also helps create the organized base needed to challenge and stop the mid- and longer term threats to fundamental democratic principles and practice necessary to create a fair and just society.
- Immediate threats could include organizing around preventing deportations, such as creating local defense committees, providing know your rights and “sanctuary spaces”; organizing around refugee & Muslim bans and Islamophobia; organizing against anti-Black racism; preventing healthcare and public benefit cuts, preventing rollbacks on workplace, LGBTQ, and reproductive rights and environment protections; organizing against anti-protestor bills; protecting the sovereignty of Native communities; etc.
- Mid-range and longer threats could include organizing around voting rights, mobilizing for 2018 federal, state and local elections; preparing for the census and redistricting, fighting against the privatization of public education and other ‘public goods;’ weakening federal oversight regulations and suppressing dissent in the media, etc.
- State and Local level organizing: While much attention is focused on federal policy, we are particularly interested in work on the state and local level that is either the direct result of or that has been emboldened, aided and abetted by the policies and positions of the new federal administration. As with our regular grantmaking, we are particularly interested in work occurring in the South, but are also interested in work in other regions.
We are not limited to these issues and welcome finding out about a range of issues and work occurring on the ground. We are particularly interested in supporting work in under-resourced regions, led by grassroots community based organizations with budgets under $1 million. Finally, we are particularly interested in work that works at the intersection of related issues and multiple constituencies because we think this helps lay the foundation for the progressive cross-constituency, cross-issue movement that can ultimately secure a more equitable future for us all.
As a reminder, the Hill-Snowdon Foundation, in partnership with the General Service Foundation, launched the Defending the Dream Fund to help grassroots community organizing groups address a variety of new and urgent threats represented by the new poltiical reality in the Trump era. We are looking to support groups whose work directly addresses emerging threats related to Trump era policies or practices at the federal, state or local level.