Principles of Unity

What are the shared principles that guide us? The principles that connect the members of the Southern Movement Assembly reflect many years of organizational partnerships and a synthesis of ideas based in collective practice and historical examples. The principles serve to name who we are, what we believe, and our purpose for working together to regenerate and advance the Southern Freedom Movement in the 21st Century. These principles reaffirm the foundational belief that we are stronger together, and that we work together because we see our struggles are connected and our liberation is tied to one another. These principles will be evaluated and evolved periodically.

Rooted in History

We believe remembering, learning, and growing from our movement history is critical. We commit to recognize our long-term legacies and the most recent work that led to this moment.

Community Governance

SMA membership and people most affected by injustice should be centered in decision-making that affects our lives.

Organization Self-Determination

We recognize and respect the self-determination of each organization and engage in different choices and traditions of our member organizations.

Defend Our Ground

We will defend the ground we have gained through struggle, and we will create and practice new forms of participation and governance that include and serve all of us.

Multiple Strategies

We believe in and respect the diversity of tactics and strategies as we are working for liberation. We believe there are many ways to do this work.

Local Leadership

We respect and support locally-based leadership. Place and space matter, and we recognize the unique histories of the South and its local sites.

Principle Dialogue

We value and practice transparency. We strive to distinguish between perception and reality. We engage each other directly when disagreement or conflict is a barrier to collective action and do not air grievances.

Resist and Build Framework

We believe political direction is determined by big picture analysis grounded in struggle to dismantle white supremacy, economic exploitation, patriarchy, and colonialism while simultaneously building decolonization processes for liberation of all people.

What is Southern Movement Assembly?

The Southern Movement Assembly is the solution to our region’s biggest systemic challenges. We organize and assert bottom-up people power to build shared power, expand democracy, and protect frontline communities from violence in all its forms.

We are a multiracial, multi-issue, multigenerational movement alliance of grassroots organizations across the South that practices democratic governance, coordinates shared actions, and convenes peoples movement assemblies of frontline communities to grow bottom-up power and build infrastructure for long-term liberation.

Together, we can grow Southern people power!

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands.”

What Purpose Do We Serve?

To organize and assert the people power needed to create a world where everyone is free to live healthy and fulfilled lives.

We envision a future where systems are controlled by frontline communities, and are governed to nurture our freedom, safety, and well-being.

How Do We Intend To Achieve Our Mission?

Our strategies are straightforward. Through our local-based leadership, we are a community of change-makers working together to:
• Build shared power
• Expand democracy and community control
• Defend our communities from violence

Together, we are called to take action against all forms of injustice and increase resources that our communities control. Throughout history, grassroots organizers have been at the forefront of social change. SMA builds on that legacy by organizing our communities to build infrastructure for long-term liberation.

Mission in Depth

Build New Social Economies

We build solidarity economies, including new community-owned institutions like cooperatives and practices of community-based agriculture, land trusts, and participatory budgeting. We are unapologetic in our demand for resources we self-determine and systems that guarantee our safety. Together, we will not stop fighting until SMA communities get the economic, education, health, and justice resources we deserve.

Practice People's Democracy

We organize Peoples Movement Assemblies and build coordinated local community governance for movement power. We expand democracy to shift decision making power to everyday people, expand civic engagement beyond the vote, and organize political education.

Protect and Defend Communities

We work to eliminate state violence in all its forms, including incarceration, social control, medical violence, and military violence that displaces people globally and locally. We coordinate community resistance to violence, rapid response to crisis, and disaster preparedness.

Participating Organizations

Participating Organizations align with the Principles of Unity, participate in Southern Movement Assemblies, the annual Organizing Intensive, and participate in Work Teams that facilitate Community and Frontline Assemblies and support the overall organizing efforts. Over 100 organizations have participated in SMAs and have signed on to Southern Peoples Initiative since 2012.

Anchor Organizations have worked with the SMA for at least a year, align with the Principles of Unity, meet weekly and provide strategic direction, accumulate political analysis, initiate rapid response when needed, and coordinate the annual SMA, Organizing Intensive, and Work Teams.

List of Anchor Organizations

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