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Lessons from Pioneers in Justice: Winning Strategies—Building the Voice of Civil Rights 2.0

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Lessons from Pioneers in Justice: Winning Strategies—Building the Voice of Civil Rights 2.0

Nasser H

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By Lina Sheth

This post is a series being published in support of our work with the Pioneers in Justice initiative of the Levi Strauss Foundation. This multi-year initiative is working with next-generation leaders of social justice organizations to enable peer learning and equip them with new tools, strategies and ways of working to create change. Read more about our work with the initiative.

What does building the voice of civil rights 2.0 mean? How do these next-generation leaders use their personal selves and professional experiences to shape the dialogue on civil rights today in a compelling and thought provoking way -- and one each individual listener, reader or viewer can connect to authentically?

ZeroDivide has been coordinating this opportunity for the Pioneers in Justice to play with their voices, over the past several months, in a series of experiments. In a world of social media, we can gravitate to Twitter, Facebook and blogging and forget about the power of radio and television -mediums that still have high leveraging power and influence on today’s civil right’s views - think NPR or Charlie Rose. So we decided to create opportunities for the Pioneers to understand these spaces and see how they could curate their own content in radio and television. Many of the leaders already had extensive experience with radio or television but never in a self-produced or self-hosted environment where they can control the message and production.   

We partnered with Youth Radio, an organization that works with young people to develop a deep set of life skills through journalism and digital media to build social and cultural capital in their communities in the San Francisco-Bay area. Staff at Youth Radio ran the Pioneers through a series of exercises and used a one-minute drivetime commentary exercise to help the leaders develop their own 1-minute commentary. And then they hit the recording studio. Each Pioneer created a fresh perspective, which were thought-provoking pieces where we learned something new about a personal attribute of each leader that was connected to a current social justice issue that was top of mind for them. Integrating the “hook” -- how much personal story to imbed to evoke authentic connection to the listener and tying this to the social issue of the day was the hardest part of the exercise. These commentaries can be used in many ways to push out not only on radio; but in new media channels, which some of the Pioneers did. Spaces like Youth Radio are available for use to the public, and exposing the Pioneers to the opportunity of self-producing through this medium of commentary could continue to be developed. Below are the links to each Pioneer’s commentary.