During our recent staff retreat in Los Angeles, I had these questions on my mind: How has the city's history of activism impacted the current movements? How does PBP contribute to centering marginalized communities in democracy?

Edna Sandoval

Los Angeles has been historically a hub for activism. From the very early Californio movement, which reclaimed Mexican identity through Chicanismo, to contemporary times where Black Americans continue to organize against police brutality through direct action and civil disobedience, this is a place of resistance and advocacy. This city has thrived on the convergence of several communities, diasporas, and cultures, each finding its space of belonging, dignity, and ownership.

And, of course, the path of activism and resistance has not been easy. Some people have given their own lives for what they perceive as justice: for a better future for those who call Los Angeles home but are systemically oppressed because of their racial identity, legal status, their gender expression, or their political beliefs.

Our organization recognizes the immense historical role that Los Angeles has on nationwide organizing movements, so we decided to organize two panels as part of our recent staff retreat. We invited representatives from Reimagine L.A., a local coalition that is doing advocacy and campaign work calling for a ballot measure to divest from incarceration and policing and invest in the health and economic wellness of marginalized people in their communities and lead by youth to speak to us about their advocacy work. In addition, several incredible community leaders from Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAM), a Community Engagement Partner in the LA REPAIR PB process, joined us to reflect on the successes and challenges of using PB to achieve racial justice that is led by elders in the community of South Los Angeles.

All the speakers shared their advocacy lessons and significant learnings from organizing in a place like Los Angeles, like the importance of recognizing how systemic racism affects the incarceration system in Los Angeles County and the effectiveness of coordinated  a coalition building when doing massive campaign work. They also touched on the necessity of generating more civic engagement by offering economic reparations to communities that have been under-resourced due to the city’s history of economic and racial oppression. One approach to do this is through participatory budgeting and participatory democracy at large.

Overall, the most exciting part of the panels for me was witnessing the beauty of intergenerational activism in Los Angeles. We heard the LAM elders, who are powerful leaders in their communities, sharing the importance of achieving mutual aid, economic and educational opportunities, and nurturing spaces where they could provide safety and dignity for radical and critical thinking for their children and grandchildren. They also spoke of the memories they had of their grandmothers advocating for the Black vote.

We also had the opportunity to also hear from Reimagine LA, the youngest generation who are now taking organizing to a next level to leverage and mobilize massively to reallocate public budget funds for communities into alternatives for incarceration. They are using the vote as an essential tool to secure reparations for Black communities. It was humbling and influential to witness two generations of activists embodying the same values of organizing and all recognizing the colossal importance of the sacrifices that ancestors and previous generations made for us, the youth, to follow their path of advocacy, resilience and cultural pride.

It is common to see the daughters, sons, and children of immigrant, diasporic, Black, brown and Indigenous communities take unapologetically the space denied to their parents, grandparents, and ancestors because they can recognize their history, legacy, and inner power. For PBP, recognizing the importance of intergenerational activism and the need for continued advocacy and resilience is pivotal. It is an honor to continue upholding a form of democracy that can center those who have fought and continue fighting at the front for all of us.

Learn more about our recent PBP team retreat by perusing our retreat recap blog.