History On Our Side

Written by Megan Swoboda, Sharon Lungo, and Nancy Hernandez

The Ruckus Society’s 2012 Action Camp is coming up June 8-12 at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, and the application deadline is fast approaching (April 10th)!

This year, we’re partnering with leaders of the migrants rights movement, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, to ramp up the direct action skills of this crucial movement.

But why focus on migrant rights? Why is this Action Camp important? And how does this relate to other important current-day political struggles
like climate and ecological justice, #Occupy, anti-foreclosure, economic and social justice, and the rights and sovereignty of indigenous communities?

State of the ‘Union’ – Divided We Fall

As Ruckus has been deepening our support of the migrants rights movement, we’ve been talking with community leaders from across the country who have been organizing powerful campaigns and creative actions moving migrant rights to the front of the movement for social justice. We’ve been infuriated by stories of deportations after traffic stops and accounts of ICE agents raiding homes and separating parents and children.

We’ve also been amazed by stories of selfless solidarity and creative resistance. College students are walking 3,000 miles from SF to DC to win access to higher education for undocumented students. High school youth are using online videos to push back against laws outlawing ethnic studies classes and starting their own underground banned book libraries.  People have chained themselves to the doors of some of the 350 detention centers across the country to prevent any more men, women, or children from being locked into corporate-run prisons, indefinitely, for no crime other than existing on a side of the border that they weren’t born on.

Why an Action Camp for Migrant Rights?


The battle for migrant rights is a battle for civil and human rights, and like the movements before us, we must wage wide-spread nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience campaigns to turn the tide of public opinion, and to demand just and equal rights under the law.  Extensive training and preparation are necessary (and proven effective) in order to execute successful action campaigns, and this direct action camp is a key step in this path to cultivate skilled organizers who can implement effective actions, and spread these skills onto others.



The 2012 Ruckus Action Camp will bring together 100 organizers, activists, and community members for five days of intense training and skills development to build the skills, capacity, and strategy necessary for participants to go home to their communities and utilize effective direct action and civil disobedience tactics beyond just marching and protesting to increase visibility, escalate their campaigns, and ultimately win.


Connecting our Struggles

We recognize that migrants in the U.S. are scapegoated for all sorts of social and economic problems,  although critics do not address the root causes of migration and the U.S.’s culpability for conditions at home and abroad. We believe the right to social, economic and environmental justice is the right of all humans, not just those “documented” individuals who meet the standards of immigration laws. Meanwhile, capital and resources flow across “borders” into the United States with free access.

If money can cross borders, why not people? At this critical time in history, with climate and economic catastrophe in the shadows, all of our home places will be impacted. The struggle of migrants is all our struggle.

We see the issues surrounding human migration as complex and a product of multiple factors, including:

  • forced migration caused by resource extraction like mountaintop removal, rampant industrialization, and dirty energy projects that make the surrounding communities uninhabitable or forced to endure devastating health impacts.
  • “climate refugees” who are displaced from their homes due to destructive effects of climate change
  • political or religious refugees who seek asylum from oppressive regimes often reinforced by a lack of jobs, housing, healthcare, and more, caused by greedy capitalist and imperialist economic policies that leave working class communities out in the cold, both here in the U.S. and in our neighboring countries
  • racism, white supremacy, and xenophobia that still run deep in our country’s veins, resulting in the continued violence against, “othering”, and criminalization of communities of color.

We believe that all of these issues are intrinsically connected, and by sharing analysis, skill, and strategy, we build more powerful multi-pronged movements for justice.

As we all know, those in Power rely on us all remaining divided in order to maintain the status quo. By organizing together, we have infinite People Power to make the changes we all know are necessary.

History On Our Side – and All Around Us

There couldn’t be a more appropriate setting for this Action Camp than the historic Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee, which has been home to grassroots organizing, movement-building, and civil disobedience training since 1932!

With a legacy of organizing at Highlander including early union and worker rights, ending segregation in the labor movement, training for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Appalachian environmental and workers’ health and safety, and current-day migrant rights organizing, we will be surrounded by the spirits of victorious movements that have come before us.

We know that the hands-on training, preparation and face-to-face organizing that happens at our Action Camps (and like those that have taken place at the Highlander Center for 70 years now) is integral to successful movement-building and victories in our struggles for justice.

Join Us

Action Camps come but once a year – and anyone who has ever attended one of our dozens of Ruckus Camps over the last 15 years can tell you that nothing quite compares to Action Camp.  So don’t miss one of the best opportunities this year to build the action arm of our movements for justice.

Apply today, spread the word, or donate to our Action Camp fund!

  • Click here to Apply by April 10th
  • Forward this message to your friends and post on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Click here to Donate to our Action Camp Fund to help us pull off this five-day training!


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