KFTC members attend the Populism 2015 conference in Washington, D.C.

KFTC members Sarah Thomas, K.A. Owens, and Serena Owen in Washington D.C. for the Populism 2015 conference. Members from Jefferson County, Northern Kentucky, and Central Kentucky recently traveled to Washington D.C. to participate in Populism 2015, a conference organized by National People’s Action (NPA), Campaign for America’s Future, Alliance for a Just Society, and USAction. The conference was a gathering of grassroots organizers, activists, and leaders “committed to building a new, multiracial populist movement to transform our country.”

Citing some of the past decade’s most significant points of change, including Occupy Wall Street, actions to address climate change, campaigns to raise the wage, the Black Lives Matter movement, and others, conference organizers challenged attendees to “lead a movement that transforms our country, advancing an agenda that puts the needs of all people and the health of our planet first.”

Throughout the conference, grassroots organizations from across the country – including PUSH Buffalo, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, Illinois Indiana Regional Organizing Network, Take Action Minnesota, and many others – gave examples of local organizing and emphasized the idea that “change must come to Washington – not from it.”

The importance of change coming from the grassroots level resonated with Sarah Thomas of Central Kentucky, who said, “We’re still people and our voices deserve to be heard.”

K.A. Owens of Jefferson County attended a Black Lives Matter gathering, which was one of two actions organized by the conference. The gathering included spoken word performances, testimonies, and strategies to advance the movement at home.

“I knew Black Lives Matter had been doing work all across the county on justice system reform/police brutality since the Trayvon Martin Case,” said Owens. “I didn’t know until the presentation about the Black Lives Matter emphasis on female leadership and being open to trans women of color, which I think is important.”

In addition to participating in actions, members attended workshops on a range of issues including economic inequality, climate change, just transition, institutional racism, gender equality, and fair taxation to learn more about issues and to gain practical organizing skills.

Northern Kentucky member Serena Owen participating in a small group discussion at the Populism 2015 conference in Washington D.C.

Having the opportunity to learn from other organizers and how it can apply to work back home was especially important to Serena Owen of Northern Kentucky. “Bringing all the different organizations together, it gave me a visual of what solidarity looks and feels like. And engaging in hands-on learning, actually participating in the actions and learning how others tell their story, it helps you to tell your story in your community.” said Owen.

To learn more about the conference and  its organizers, visit www.npa-us.org.

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