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2003 ALSTON / BANNERMAN FELLOWS

DORIS BRADSHAW

Memphis, TN
Doris Bradshaw's activism began in the 1960s when she organized protests to fully integrate her rural Tennessee high school. Spurred by the effects of the weapons of mass destruction dumped in her South Memphis neighborhood by the U.S. Army, Doris is now a leading environmental justice organizer. In 1995 she founded Defense Depot Memphis Tennessee-Concerned Citizens Committee to educate and mobilize the community around the dangers related to the now-closed military facility. One of her proudest achievements has been guiding Youth Terminating Pollution, a group formed by local teens concerned especially about the effects of toxic exposure on reproductive health.

"What I've learned about military weapons production and cleanup is that the way they have treated people of color throughout the United States is the way they are treating countries of color throughout the world. The work doesn't stop here. We are working locally, nationally and internationally. "

ARACELI CORONA

Dade City, FL
As a child, Araceli Corona came to the United States from Mexico and felt firsthand the injustices that farmworkers suffer. By her teenage years, she was working with the grassroots group Farmworkers Self-Help (FSH), and 16 years later she is about to be its executive director. FSH combines services, education and organizing to improve the lives of farmworkers. Recent accomplishments include securing enactment of a state law to protect farmworkers from being charged by their employers for the tools, clothing and transportation they need to work. Araceli is a founder of AWING, FSH's innovative program to empower farmworker women.

"It has been important to teach community adults to organize, but I believe that in the end, if we are to succeed, we must teach our youth how to fight for what is right. Organizing with our youth is an integral part of what we see as the path to systemic change."

DONNA DUDLEY

Williamston, NC
Her experience as an injured poultry worker led Donna Dudley to a lifelong commitment to organizing. For 10 years, with the Center for Women's Economic Alternatives, she organized workers and supporters to fight for fair treatment and safer workplaces, especially for ergonomic standards for repetitive motion jobs. In 1994, Donna co-founded the New Life Women's Leadership Project , a grassroots organization of low-income women in rural northeastern North Carolina. Responding to the lack of job opportunities in their area, New Life has organized welfare recipients to secure extended benefits and training, and is exploring ways to create sustainable economic development.

"What NAFTA has done to areas like eastern North Carolina is no different than creating a third world country. What this reality has helped us to understand is that our people need to be a part of defining how we create jobs and how we generate income within our local community."

KENNETH FONG

Oakland, CA
Immigrating from Hong Kong to California, Ken Fong learned how easily many immigrants are exploited and he soon became an organizer with Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA). Since 1991, as its Chinese organizer, Ken has played a central role in AIWA's educational programs and action campaigns, including the ground-breaking fight to hold garment manufacturers responsible for sweatshop abuses. He helped plan and carry out AIWA's leadership development process, and volunteers his expertise to help other community and labor organizations overcome language and cultural barriers.

"The Chinese have a saying that when there is one chopstick you can easily break it, but when you put 10 chopsticks together it is hard to break. It starts with gaining your own dignity and then coming together with the broader goal of justice. That's how we build power."


EMMA LOZANO

Chicago, IL
Emma Lozano got her start in organizing in the 1970s with Chicago's independent Latino political movement. She founded Centro Sin Fronteras in 1987 to defend the rights of undocumented Mexican immigrants. At the same time, Pueblo Sin Fronteras began organizing neighborhood residents, using hunger strikes and demonstrations to win construction of the city's first community-based bilingual school. Ever since, Sin Fronteras has played a leading role on issues ranging from school reform to legalization of the undocumented to getting the U.S. Navy out of the Vieques, Puerto Rico.

"How we struggle is as important as what we achieve. We've adopted a model of grassroots democracy called the asamblea, which gives every community member, documented or not, an equal voice. We strive to be examples of a new humanity in the course of our day to day struggles."


CARLOS MARENTES

El Paso, TX
Carlos Marentes began organizing farm-workers in Texas in 1977 and has been a mainstay of farm labor organizing along the U.S.-Mexico border ever since. As coordinator of the Border Agricultural Workers Project , he has helped chile pickers plan and carry out actions to secure fairer wages and working conditions in the booming New Mexico chile industry. The workers recently won inclusion in the state's Unemployment Insurance Compensation system. Carlos is also founder and director of Sin Fronteras Organizing Project , which waged a successful 11-year struggle to establish a shelter and organizing center for farmworkers in El Paso.

"The most important challenge for us today is the globalization of exploitation by the corporations. To face the challenge we have created close ties with the campesino movement south of the U.S. border and through linkages between workers we are developing the capacity to act in an international arena."


MILDRED MYERS

Gadsden, SC
Beginning as a teenager during the civil rights movement, Mildred Myers has made community organizing her life¹s work. Her focus on environmental justice issues started in 1991 with a campaign that blocked the siting of corporate poultry farm in her community. A few years later, she co-founded South Carolina Environmental Watch (SCEW), a statewide organization that has helped other low-income African American communities fight polluting companies that want to move into their areas. SCEW emphasizes developing grassroots leadership and brings communities together arou'nd issues like the gutting of the Clean Air Act.

"We're about building sustainable communities, not just winning battles. Because even if you've won a battle, you lose if you don't have an organization in place that can continue to address the concerns of the community. The first and biggest challenge is helping people to overcome their fear."

ADAN RAMIREZ

Boise, ID
Adan Ramirez got his first taste of organizing in the 1950s when he mobilized his fellow sheep shearers across California in a series of successful strikes for higher pay. In the 1990s, he became an organizer and leader of Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN), a statewide organization of low-income families. ICAN's recent successes include winning coverage for farmworkers under Idaho's minimum wage law and expanding health care coverage for uninsured children. Adan is also co-chair of the Board and a regional trainer for the Northwest Federation of Community Organizations.

"After recovering from a heart attack, I feel more urgency than ever to pass what I've learned from my years of experience on to others to continue the struggle. One thing I've learned is that if we get people mad enough to stand up and fight with love in their hearts, we can change people's minds, even in Idaho."

PAUL RODARTE

Dearborn Heights, MI
Paul Rodarte is a Paiute-Shoshone who has been organizing against the targeting of Native lands for toxic waste dumps and other environmentally poisonous projects since 1989. He began with the Citizen Alert Native American Program in Nevada and was a co-founder and the first executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network. Recently, Paul has worked with Native Lifeways in Michigan and Ontario, Canada to help fight the placement of mega-dumps on Indian lands. Paul takes a holistic approach to organizing, promoting an understanding of Native history and traditions as an essential part of the process of healing individuals, communities and the environment.

"Every good healer believes that the person they're helping has the solution within them. Pre-invasion, we had an entirely self-sufficient society. To me, helping our people look at what we have to do around environmental issues means helping them believe again that we have the solutions."

EDWIN RODRIGUEZ

San Francisco, CA
Threatened by the death squads for his involvement in the student movement in El Salvador, Edwin Rodriguez fled to the United States in 1981 and continued organizing. Focused first on securing peace and justice in El Salvador while defending the rights of Central American refugees in the United States, Edwin also has been a principal organizer of the broader immigrant rights movement in Northern California since the 1990s. Currently, as Associate Director of Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Edwin¹s priority is promoting Latino community empowerment.

"The struggle for immigrant rights must be pro-active so we are not just responding to attacks on our communities. The number of Central Americans that are becoming United States citizens is impressive and it is critical to develop ways for them to make use of the power they could have."

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