Groups Inspiring Us in 2018

The US Campaign has a tradition of uplifting the work of outstanding grassroots activists and organizations.

In the spirit of collective action, we seek to shine a light on groups that are inspiring us by building across movements, finding new paths to power and change, and sparking critical conversations within the broader Palestine solidarity movement.

Dream Defenders | Damu Smith Memorial Award

Every year, the US Campaign presents the Damu Smith Memorial Award to recognize individuals/groups for their commitment to Palestinian rights and the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. Damu was an internationally renowned activist, founder of Black Voices for Peace, supporter of Palestinian rights, and former Steering Committee member of the US Campaign.

Dream Defenders, founded in 2012, is a group of young people building a powerful, rooted, local, organization and movement for freedom and liberation in Florida.

Why They Inspire Us
We are inspired by how, through delegation work, the Dream Defenders have shifted the culture on the conversation of Palestine. They have utilized relational organizing, advocacy, and arts and culture in order to push the conversation both nationally and locally. The Dream Defenders, as a group born out of the murder of Trayvon Martin, continues to be a vehicle for solidarity with Palestine, as well as internationalism as a whole, within the movement for Black lives.

Big Plans for 2018
In 2018, Dream Defenders are releasing the Freedom Papers, a visionary document and manifesto that shifts what is possible in the minds of the people and moves them to action. They also recently launched their Freedom Fellowship for young organizers in Florida in order to build power all over the state and change the political landscape.

Follow Along
Follow Dream Defenders online at dreamdefenders.org, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Past recipients of the Damu Smith Memorial Award: Movement for Black Lives (2016), Rasmea Odeh (2015), Ali Abunimah (2014), Rev. Michael Yoshii (2013), Noushin Framke (2012)

Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine | Outstanding Youth Activist Group Award

First awarded in 2016, the Outstanding Youth Activist Group Award recognizes an outstanding youth activist group engaged in Palestine solidarity work in the United States. This award is intended to spotlight and uplift youth and students who are engaged in new, creative, and intersectional activism, often under difficult circumstances and in repressive conditions on US campuses.

Columbia University SJP (CSJP) is a diverse group of students, faculty, staff, and community members from Columbia University and Barnard College, organized on democratic principles to promote justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for the Palestinian people. Since spring of 2016, CSJP has been organizing around their boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, in conjunction with the Columbia/Barnard chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace. The Apartheid Divest campaign calls on Columbia to divest its stocks, funds, and endowments from eight companies that profit from Israel’s violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

Why They Inspire Us
We are inspired by how CSJP centers intersectional and cross-movement work in their organizing for Palestinian rights and against Israeli apartheid. CSJP understands the liberation of Palestine to be inextricably intertwined with the liberation of oppressed groups everywhere, and so they focus on building genuine and deep relationships across struggles.

Big Plans for 2018
In the spring of 2018, CSJP is hosting their annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at Columbia, a full week of events featuring a diverse array of scholars, activists, and artists speaking on Palestinian liberation. Their plans including constructing a mock apartheid wall on Low Plaza each day of the week to educate and spread information about Palestinian human rights and BDS. IAW culminates with Palestinian Cultural Night, a night of celebration featuring dancers, vendors, speakers, food, and music.

Follow Along
Follow CSJP online at apartheiddivest.org, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Past recipients of the Outstanding Youth Activist Award: Rula Rashid (2016)

Friends of Sabeel North America | Outstanding Member Group Award

First awarded in 2016, the Outstanding Member Group Award recognizes a US Campaign member group that has made a significant advance in the cause for freedom, justice, and equality in their local context.

Friends of Sabeel North American (FOSNA) is a 21-year-old organization dedicated to being “a Christian voice for Palestine” by articulating Christian Liberation Theology, amplifying Palestinian voices, and putting their faith into action through effective advocacy campaigns.

Why They Inspire Us
We are inspired by FOSNA’s organizing in churches across the country in support of Palestinian rights, their intensive work with church groups around divestment assemblies, the way they organize and often lead municipal BDS campaigns to victory, and how they consistently show up for cross-movement building. FOSNA’s organizing is principled and respectful, especially toward Palestinian organizations, setting a critical precedent within the Palestine solidarity movement.

Big Plans for 2018
In 2018, FOSNA is continuing to build the HP Free Church campaign. Supported by the International HP Network, the HP Free Church campaign encourages churches across the United States to become “HP-free,” by providing congregations the opportunity to bring the decisions made at the denominational level into action in their own churches.  In 2018, FOSNA plans to more than double the list of HP-Free churches.

FOSNA is also launching Hikayatna: Palestinian Narrative Trainings. Kicking off in San Francisco in March, Palestinians wishing to capture, construct, and share their family story will have the opportunity to learn from Palestinian educators and professional trainers how to best share their stories. Trainers are experienced in the pedagogy of narrative making, and are skilled in supporting those new to the genre. The Hikayatna narrative training offers tools to Palestinians living in the diaspora to collect, record, and share their family stories as a catalyst for social change.

Follow Along
Follow FOSNA online at fosna.org, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Past recipients of the Outstanding Member Group Award: Deleware Neighbors Against the Occupation (2016)