Publisher's Note: Spring 2020

Somehow 2020 seems special. It’s leap year. It’s an election year. A time of reckoning. A time for decisions. It’s also a nice round number, twenty-twenty, that happens only once in a century. It’s also Social Policy’s fiftieth anniversary, marking half a century.

We’ll be making something of our birthday throughout the year. This issue we remind readers and subscribers that the journal was founded by Frank Reissman by sharing his obituary from The New York Times as well as a remembrance from his colleague and one of our frequent contributions throughout these decades. S. M. “Mike” Miller, that gives additional grace to the period and the publication. In this special section, we also included a piece from exactly a decade ago by a senior community organizer, Ellen Ryan, which still seems timely todayand underscores the critical difference between real organizing and mobilizing which is a lesson always worth remembering.

I remember well the first time I met Erik Olin Wright walking through a wildlife refuge in Wisconsin with family and friends on a winter day more than thirty years ago. In the same way he joined us looking for my daughter who had wandered off while following some Canadian geese, Professor Ed Martin from California State University, Long Beach, takes it as his task in leading this issue to look back through Wright’s important contributions to think about how to confront and organize with the current economic context. In a remarkable coincidence that Professor Joel Rogers would appreciate, since he had led us to that same refuge, he follows with his call for a productive democracy to cut through our current chaos and confusion. Bruce Boccardy, a former union leader, reminds us how to make this happen by directing our collective energy and anger. Mike Miller, long time community organizer and contributor, drives the nails deeper in the second part of his essay articulating the organizing standards that community organizations need to achieve to contribute to this fight for change and democratic practice.

In the time of coronavirus, the challenges to app-based and platform capitalism are screaming precarity so loudly it is—hopefully—finally impossible to ignore. Callum Cant shares how Deliveroo drivers in Brighton, England organized a union and carried a strike to their corporate masters. As timely as precarity is the ageless problem of diversity based on race and ethnicity. Professor Rand Quinn details the stops and starts of dealing with these issues over a generation in the San Francisco school system. Public workers and public institutions are critical in this process, and an excerpt from Cedric Alexander underlines the fact that public workers are not the “deep state,” but are in fact the opposite.

James Mumm’s book review mashes together Ella Baker, one of the key organizers in the civil rights movement, especially with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, with the voices of women involved in faith-based community organizations and the role of tech in organizing. All roads lead to….

Our columns this issue find Phil Mattera noting how the Wells Fargo banking criminal enterprise copped a plea and got a break. Drummond Pike is all over the coronavirus and how this hammer came down on us all thanks to a narcissistic White House. John Anderson brings some good news from the north in the victory of the postal workers union in Canada and its efforts to classify gig workers as direct employees, while in Backstory, I take a look at the increasingly consolidated political situation heading for the November 2020 faceoff.

Fifty and still fighting!

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