A Project From the Heart for the Progress of Our People
Oakland Rising emerged in 2006 out of the vision of several social justice Executive Directors of color. They recognized that, we, the progressive community in Oakland, are at a crossroads. For years, we have been locked out of City Hall – the efforts of base building organizations and advocates have been reduced to actions and demonstrations in the City Center, 2 minute testimonies at city council hearings, delegation meetings seen by elected officials as obligatory rather than opportunities to co-strategize. With one fight after the other, community members, leaders, and advocates show up in the hundreds at city hall, only to find out that deals have been cut months and weeks before on key issues that impact their families, neighborhoods and communities.
It was clear to them that in order to advance a social justice policy agenda, the social justice community needed on-going electoral infrastructure to garner the attention and respect of elected officials and build the support and participation of low-income communities of color to win at the ballot box. There needed to be an element of electoral organizing in order to shift political power and ensure lasting victories in our city's government. While many social justice organizations have sophisticated electoral organizing programs and experience, the lack of coordination and long-term collective vision has often led to last-minute collaboration on tactical electoral campaigns that didn’t reach a scale of significance.
These Executive Directors envisioned an alliance of organizations collectively working on electoral organizing, aligning their organizational work through on-going civic participation and strengthening Oakland’s social justice movement by working towards a broader vision of a better Oakland. The founders believed that Oakland needed a place-based, long-term political strategy and organization to unite and energize the base-building organizations’ membership and policy/advocacy organizational networks and lead the movement to political victory.
Oakland Rising was born in 2006 as a collaborative of social justice organizations charged with carrying out the missing elements of electoral organizing and organizational alignment that would ensure lasting victories for all people in our beloved city. The first Executive Director, Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, was brought on to lead the collaborative in September 2008. Shortly after, in March 2009, the current Field Director, Jessamyn Sabbag, joined the team to complete this dynamic duo.