Randy Shaw

shaw-plaque-photoWinning Social Change

Ideal Use: Organizing for change, environmental, human rights, anti-sweatshop programs

An attorney and longtime activist for urban issues, Randy Shaw shows how positive change can still be accomplished despite an increasingly grim political order. Central to all social activism, Shaw explains, is being pro-active: rather than simply reacting to right-wing proposals, activists must develop an agenda and focus their resources on achieving it.

His most recent book, published by University of California Press and titled The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century, second edition, thoroughly revises the original edition assessing the impact of specific strategies on social justice campaigns from the 1980’s through the Obama era. He analyzes the strategies and tactics used by activists in Occupy Wall Street, immigration reform, neighborhood revitalization, battles against sweatshops, DOMA, homelessness, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the Keystone XL Pipeline,  corporate-backed school reform, and other causes. Praised by longtime activist and current CNN commentator Van Jones as a “must-read for grassroots activists,” his new book builds on the strengths of the original edition that the late Howard Zinn described as “enormously valuable for anyone interested in social change.” The new edition also describes how activists can best use the Internet and social media to build and mobilize grassroots support, and highlights the role of student activists—from DREAMers seeking immigration reform to college activists battling tuition hikes—in leading progressive struggles.

Whether by inspiring “fear and loathing” in politicians, promoting ballot initiatives, or using other proactive strategies, he demonstrates how positive change can still be achieved even against powerful opponents. If you believe big money always wins, listen to Randy Shaw and learn how it has been defeated.

His earlier book, Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century, is now available in paperback. He has spoken about the book to many college audiences, and student response has been overwhelmingly positive. Students find the story of young people inspired to join a movement for social justice extremely exhilarating, particularly in these tough times. Shaw shows how the spirit, strategies and tactics that began with Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers in the 1960s still strengthens the labor movement, helps build Latino political power and infuses a growing campaign for immigrant rights.

Shaw’s other books include Reclaiming America: Nike, Clean Air, and the New National Activism and The Activist’s Handbook: A Primer for the 1990’s and Beyond.  In the former, Shaw urges activists and their organizations to implement a “new national activism” by channeling energy from closely knit local groups into broader causes. Such activism enables locally oriented activists to shape America’s future and work on national fights without traveling to Washington, D.C., but instead working in their own backyards. The latter offers a sophisticated analysis of the American power structure and details the impact of specific strategies on campaigns across the country: battles over homelessness, the environment, AIDS policies, neighborhood preservation and school reform among others. He describes how activist groups can have widely different aims, yet similar tactics can produce success. According to Barbara Dudley, a director of Greenpeace, Randy Shaw “provides rare insight into the strategies and tactics environmentalists must use if they are to succeed in today’s political climate.” Like most Progressive Voices speakers, Randy is also willing to conduct workshops to make his visit even more worthwhile.

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