Multiplying the Movement in the South with UFE’s Grassroots Organizing School of Alabama (GOSA)

 Caption: GOSA 2024 cohort members, facilitators, interpreters and children GOSA 2024 cohort members, facilitators, interpreters and children 


UFE’s Grassroots Organizing School of Alabama (GOSA) – co-founded with the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice –  is developing organizer-leaders from Alabama’s Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities to advance base-building initiatives that promote economic justice. 

The goal of GOSA is to resource existing formations in Alabama for Black and Brown community-based civic engagement with a pipeline of Black and immigrant organizers who have the skills to staff and lead campaigns for fair pay and workers’ rights. 

GOSA consists of five bilingual training sessions spread out over the course of the year. During the trainings, community leaders co-develop their understanding of how white supremacy and capitalism are structured in Alabama to create conditions that disadvantage Black and Brown workers. They learn about one another’s histories and engage together in practices to heal from these traumas. Once each cohort has completed all the trainings, participants are mentored by us and by partner organizations to step into roles in community mobilization and change-making campaigns. 


Welcoming the GOSA 2024 Cohort!!!

Our GOSA 2024 cohort, the second so far, includes 16 participants, all of them rising organizers and leaders with four base-building partner groups in Alabama.


Training No. 1: Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Popular Education 

UFE’s Grassroots Organizing School of Alabama (GOSA) 2024 launched in early March with a multi-day, bilingual Training of Trainers – an Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Popular Education –  held at The Alabama 4-H Center.

Introduction to the Principles and Practices of Popular Education

We are delighted to share that the training was co-facilitated by two graduates of GOSA 2023 - Iralda Hernández and Juan Carlos Pérez - alongside Jeannette Huezo, UFE’s Executive Director and Senior Popular Educator. It is our goal that our trainees become trainers of the next wave of trainees, to create a “multiplier effect” in building our movements.

Juan Carlos facilitating

Iralda facilitating

During the training, participants took part in activities drawn from UFE’s Popular Economics Education curricula. In UFE’s classic "10 Chairs" exercise, one participant – representing the top 1% of wealth holders – possessed the majority of chairs while the others – 99% of the population – had only a few chairs to share among them. 

10 Chairs Activity - One person ended up with most of the chairs, and most people ended up with only a couple chairs. That doesn’t seem fair!

Participants also engaged in the income quintiles activity, an activity where 5 participants represent one of the 5 quintiles in the United States from the periods 1947-1979 and 1979-2014. Each participant took steps forward based on their respective quintile to illustrate that individuals who are in the top 5% and top 1% experienced the greatest financial growth compared to individuals in the lower quintiles. 

Jeannette facilitating the income quintiles activity

Throughout the training UFE used simultaneous interpreters as part of our commitment to language justice. Through activities, participants were prompted to reflect on their personal experiences of the economy, share their stories across language, and build their collective analysis of the structures of economic inequality. Additionally, on Saturday night there was a cultural night where participants shared their talents through song, poetry, and more.

Culture Night 

Participants invested time in building community and cultivating relationships. The activities that the participants engaged in enabled trust and promoted vulnerability for each participant. This helped set the tone for difficult conversations in safer spaces.

Participants discussing and together building their analyses of economic inequality

Headsets and skilled interpreters enable simultaneous interpretation, for one inclusive conversation.


Training No.2: Introduction to Popular Education 

The second GOSA 2024 training was held at The Sanctuary in Montgomery, Alabama from Friday, March 15th to Sunday, March 17th. UFE’s Jeannette Huezo and Eroc Arroyo-Montano, Director of Cultural Organizing, facilitated. The training began with an opening session on Friday where participants were welcomed back and had the opportunity to catch up since the last training. 

Eroc and Jeannette facilitating

Eroc and Jeannette facilitating, community alter present

On Saturday the group received a tour of the The Legacy Museum, which centers on the legacy of slavery in America. This experience opened up conversations about the feelings that arose as participants learned about slavery and its implications in modern day society.  They learned about US history, race, and work. 

Participants at The Legacy Museum

Thanks to the foundation of relationship and trust that was set in the first training, participants – most of whom are Latinx and many are immigrants – were able to wade into difficult conversations about their personal experiences. They began to reflect on their experiences as immigrant workers and the relationships between immigrant and Black workers in Alabama. The discussion between participants then sparked up the topic of anti-blackness in the Latinx community. This created solidarity between participants as they discussed how TV shows, films and common sayings contribute to historical anti-blackness, even in the Latinx community.

Participants wearing interpretation earphones


Training No. 3: UFE’s Spring Training of Trainers

The third training brought GOSA participants into dialogue and relationship with organizer-leaders from across the South and beyond at UFE’s annual Spring Training of Trainers on April 18-21. Held at the Avila Center for Community Leadership – a retreat center UFE co-founded and co-leads – the content centered around patriarchy and imperialism. 


Making an Impact in Alabama

Through GOSA, UFE is training organizer-leaders from BIPOC communities – those most impacted by low wages and inadequate worker rights. The intent is for GOSA alums to take organizer roles with existing community-based groups across Alabama that are mobilizing communities in economic justice campaigns. Together, we are multiplying the movement!


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