What is a “community organizer”

The phrase is used in revolution training. Think Saul Alinsky. Think “communist organizer.” THAT’S the training Obama had, and used, in Chicago.

It’s also a common term in black nationalism. (Google this – “community organizer” revolution -Obama black – to read on your own. Parenthesis **Quotation marks demand an absolute match and the -(minus) is to remove matches with Obama’s name.)

I think Sarah Palin was wrong last night. Being a community organizer is NOT like being a Mayor, only with responsibilities. It’s time to look a little deeper into what Obama was really training to do.

(PS – if you read the book Dreams from My Father, you’ll have a much stronger image supporting the statements above.)

**Thanks for the catch. Sorry it took me so long to get to it.–Cindy


  1. Bill Esborn says:

    Cindy, the term community organizer has been used in many contexts over the years. Yes, it was used by Saul Alinsky and yes it has been by some among black nationalists. However, it has , also, been used within the Civil Rights movement, among those who organized voters registration drives, among churches who sought to address community needs and neglect. Neighborhood Watch programs are forms of community organizing, as are, community food pantries. Political science and sociology courses teach about community organizing, as well.

    The practice of the principles of community organizing are practiced around the world because it provides a means for individuals to confront even larger social groups like government and corporations.

  2. Lucky Lady says:

    Boy, Cindy, thanks for the links to some very interesting reading. I’ll have some heavy reading to do while you’re away. I’m also digging into the book, “The Case Against Barack Obama” by David Freddoso.

    Sometimes community organizing can be a good thing, but very often there is a deeper, darker objective to the movement. Uninformed, many join the cause not knowing what the ultimate goal is, such as socialism or Black Nationalism. I have extended family who follow union dictates without having any knowledge of the issues. They follow like sheep.

  3. Politicians and their union brothers have and, will be doing, their “routine” every election cycle until every union job has left the country. It’s getting old.

  4. Slick, trying to brand “community organizer” as a “black thing”. Don’t think it will work, though.

    Don’t white communities have organizers too? Many funded by private charities and churches.

    Thanks for the Irish welcome.

  5. Pointing an association with the term is not broad branding it as “black”. If that is the case she is also branding it “white” since Saul Alinsky is associated with that color and mentioned first.

  6. Dorothy Day was a Roman Catholic who helped to organize the Catholic Workers Party. Community organizing has roots back to the beginning of the industrial revolution and the the organization of the National Child Labor Committee in 1904 is an example of community organizing and was the abolitionist movement in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    So community organizing has a long history separate from race or unionism. It is a tradition and a process that can be used to confront and/or address social injustice.

    Community organizing exists is the structure of people coming together to create local food pantry, to build a local park or recreation area, to organize a Habitat for Humanity local branch, to bring political pressure on local school boards, to build a Christian group home for differently-abled persons, or anything else that may need the political or social mass of group to achieve what any individual cannot do by themselves.

    Groups like the United Way rely on the principles of community organizing to achieve fund raising and programming.

  7. Dorothy Day was a Roman Catholic who helped to organize the Catholic Workers Party and was known for her efforts in community organizing. Community organizing has roots back to the beginning of the industrial revolution and organizations like the National Child Labor Committee in 1904 is an example of community organizing as was the abolitionist movement in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    So community organizing has a long history separate from race or unionism. It is a tradition and a process that can be used to confront and/or address social injustice or to build needed resources for a community.

    Community organizing exists is the structure of people coming together to create local food pantry, to build a local park or recreation area, to organize a local branch of Habitat for Humanity, to bring political pressure on local school boards, to build a Christian group home for differently-abled persons, or anything else that may need the political or social mass of a group to achieve what any individual cannot do by themselves.

    Mainstream groups like the United Way rely on the principles of community organizing to achieve fund raising and programming.

  8. Uhm, those things around the words “community organizer” are called quotation marks, not parenthesis [sic].

  9. Repubabubba says:

    Yes, the most hateful things are all products of community organizing. On this we all agree.

  10. Repubabubba says:

    But how do we stop it? One word: Palin. She is against whatever our enemies are for, and will crush anyone who stands in her way because God is on her side. “Communities” will no longer need an “organizer” after the election.

  11. I heard this one today: Jesus was a community organizer; Pontius Pilate was a governor.

  12. Hi Cindy,

    I see your racist tendencies shining brightly through here. You and those like you, like to scare people into voting for what you consider the “safe” candidate. Typical republican tactics worthy of Karl Rove.

    Fairly conservative? Don’t think so. Just another attempt to smear a Democratic candidate by insinuation and innuendo. So very sad that many Americans will fall for these smear tactics while you sit smugly at your computer and type out this trash all day long. You sit at your computer while real Americans who care about other Americans are actually out in the community working to improve the lives of their fellow citizens. Yes, those “community organizers” who actually do the work every day to improve the lives of Americans who aren’t as fortunate as the rest; whose jobs have been eliminated because their steel factories have been shipped to China where laborers there earn 25 cents an hour.

    It’s ideation such as yours that keeps people trapped into negative and fearful thinking. Perhaps that’s what you want. Perhaps it’s the only way that Republicans can keep power in this country.

    Sarah Palin reminds me more of George Bush than she does anyone else. She has a record of firing people who don’t agree with her rather than work with them – just like George Bush did with the firing of federal prosecutors who weren’t “conservative enough.” She has the record of being for the bridge to nowhere and then against it when it proved unpopular. She advocates for abstinence only education and then her own child comes up pregnant. What happened to that education? She wants to ban books from the public library and tries to fire the librarian when she doesn’t get her way. She fires the head of the state police because he won’t do her bidding regardless of job performance. How many examples do you need that this woman is NOWHERE fit to be Vice President of this country and that John McCain’s impaired judgement is evident by this selection.

    Sarah Palin is now fully invested in utilizing classic republican tactics of smear and fear to further her agenda and that of the radical right wing. She has actually done very little to improve the daily lives of Alaskans. I guess she’s too busy using the state’s helicopters to hunt endangered animals to worry much about the working people of her state.

    We’ll not get into her support of the oil industry. That’s too long for this forum. Let’s just say this, every chance she’s gotten to improve her own life at the expense of others, she’s taken. Every chance she has to further the interests of big oil over indigenous species, she’s taken them.

    When will Americans wake up to see the truth and get beyond the fear? Hopefully that will happen in this election when they send both McCain and Palin home in defeat!

    Keep your smear and fear tactics up Cindy. God holds a special place for people like you.

  13. I have worked as a Community Organizer. The community was parents of children with mental retardation. The time was several decades ago, before the Individuals with Disabilities Special Education was passed. It was standard at the time to “put away” a child with Down Syndrome. My job was to support the parents who wanted to raise their children at home and help them find services in their community or, more likely, connect with others to create services. As I remember the stories these families told, I am still awed by the courage it took just to bring the baby home from the hospital. Things have changed a lot since then, mostly because the parents organized and stood up to “the way it has always been.” What’s so funny about that? Good ideas and strong arguments do not need to ridicule others.

  14. I see some rather ignorant (not in the pejorative sense, but in the sense of simply being without information on the subject) writing about community organizing here. To some folks, evidently, it is a new term and they fasten their prejudices against Obama onto it. This is a field of specialization in social work. You may be against it if you think social work is a bunch of bull, which a lot of conservatives do. But it is not a communist plot, or as the lead article says slyly “think Saul Alinsky” “think communist organizer.” If folks want to be told what to “think” that is fine with me, but it is no way to find out the meaning of this term. The term does have a definition. One would do well to try to learn it. You may also be against psychotherapy, possibly are, but all the same it is a professional field and you cannot simply call it or community organizing whatever you wish without looking rather foolish and uninformed.

  15. Johnny Mac says:

    Sarah Palin is NOT WRONG.

  16. jerseysgotclass says:

    Why do you provide a link to “communist organizer” when supposedly providing info into what a COMMUNITY organizer is?

    The sad thing is, people fell for it.

    And yes, anyone who reads “dreams of my father” will know what Obama is about. Nothing wrong with that…if helping those less fortunate and the story a future leader’s childhood explaining where his values come from, written BEAUTIFULLY bothers you…well, that’s a commentary on you then, Cindy.

  17. Christian – If you want to see smear subscribe to the daily e-mail from the DNC.

  18. Christian – Palin firing people. Sort of reminds me of a Bill and Hillary white house episode.

  19. I’ll agree that sometimes communities organize for a reason that in fact benefits a community.

    We don’t know what kind of community organizing Obama did. In his book, he’s admitted to making up names and situations to keep the story going. I don’t remember him going into any details lately, either.

    I’ll be glad to be corrected if you can find video of him explaining exactly who funded his early “community organizer” years and what those duties entailed.

    (Before you screech at me for calling out Obama’s lies, you should read the preface of the book.)

  20. I have enjoyed the political campaign of 2008. From the debates waged during the primaries by both Democrats and Republicans, I sat perched on the end of my seat, waiting for what was to come next. I watched the coverage of each candidate, listened to the political pundits as they spewed their respective objective or subjective views, read every piece of literature written by political analysts and bloggers in regards to the pros and cons of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. I prayed that Obama would choose Sen. Joseph Biden and held my breath at the thought of whom McCain would choose. I knew McCain would choose someone who would help him top the performance of the Democrats at their convention, but never did I ever think he would choose Gov. Sarah Palin. Like many others, I thought he would choose someone who most of us were familiar with, but I also thought he would choose someone whom he was familiar with, but such was not the case. Instead of the old, familiar group of Republicans, McCain came out of left field and chose Palin.

    Palin is the mother of five who served as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska and is now serving as the governor of Alaska, a position she has held for less than two years. Why did McCain choose her? Well, that depends on whom you ask. If one listens to the Republican viewpoint, one will hear a bunch of adjectives and adverbs, nothing of substance, to explain not only why McCain chose her but also why she is qualified to become the next Vice President, and possibly President, of the United States. Therefore, to discover more about the woman who has “graced” the Republican ticket, I visited the following websites: http://gov.state.ak.us/bio.html and http://www.ontheissues.org/Sarah_Palin.htm. I must admit, her gubernatorial website is nothing compared to that of Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia or Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, but I guess nothing much goes on in the state of Alaska.

    As I researched Palin, I discovered that she fought to have certain books banned from the library. This puzzled me, as she has been touted as “an intelligent woman.” I could not help but think, “Why would an “intelligent” being want books banned? Isn’t education about the exchange of ideas?” When I ran across a list of books that Palin wanted banned, I was struck dumb:

    •Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
    •Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
    •Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
    •Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
    •I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    •James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
    •Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    •My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara
    •Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
    •The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
    •The Color Purple by Alice Walker
    •The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
    •The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
    •To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    •Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
    •Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster

    These are just a few of the books that Palin found offensive. For sure, there are high school students, as well as some college students, who would love to see the absence of Chaucer and Shakespeare in academia. In addition, there are many who espouse the notion that Mark Twain’s work is racist, which I guess would be the reason why Palin opposes To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, as well, even though such views are unfounded and clearly show a lack of critical thinking skills.

    However, I cannot imagine what Palin could find offensive about books such as Roald’s, James and the Giant Peach, Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, or Flowers for Algernon a book (one would think Palin would embrace given her family situation) about a mentally challenged man who was restored to full mental capacity through a series of experiments. Unfortunately, the character reverted to his original self, but it was worth it, at least to me, that he was able to experience some normalcy, even if the experience was brief. The underlying question remains, “What is offensive about the books on the list?”

    I viewed her acceptance speech on Wednesday night, with much objectivity. What else could one do to get a sense of who Palin is when she has been unreachable and untouchable since her appearance with McCain on August 29th when he announced her selection as his running mate? I found her speech rather puzzling though. My favorite line was, “You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.” I was left wondering, which of the two wears the lipstick. I have seen “hockey moms,” but I have yet to see any in lipstick, at least not at the hockey games I have attend.

    I listened as Palin introduced her family, provided scant information about her accomplishments, degraded Obama and Biden while praising McCain, and negated discussing any real issues faced by American citizens. This was all fine and dandy, considering she did not write the speech herself. Then, she did the ultimate; Palin offended every grass-root community organizer in the country with, “Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown…let me explain…what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

    This woman is crazy. The American Revolution was encouraged and fought by community organizers. Working class Americans earned the eight-hour workday because of the efforts of community organizers. Women gained the right to vote because of the relentless battle of community organizers. How dare Palin belittle the work done by women such as Susan B. Anthony, Carrie Nation, Jane Addams, Ada S. McKinley, and Gloria Steinem, just to name a few. These women, these community organizers Palin has such distaste for made it possible for her to serve as governor of Alaska and to be considered for the office of Vice President.

    If it were not for community organizers, there would be no Red Cross, no Salvation Army, on Peace Corps, no Americorp, no Habitat for Humanity…the list goes on. Maybe Palin has something against those who reach out to the broken and downtrodden in efforts to help them improve their quality of life. Maybe she believes she is above those who find themselves in a hopeless state at some point in their lives. Whatever the case may be, in the words of Obama, during his acceptance speech, “ENOUGH!” I am tired of being insulted by both McCain and Palin.

    For McCain to think that women would vote for a woman for the mere fact that she is a woman shows lack of critical thinking skills on his behalf. The fact that Palin allows herself to be used by the very “good ole boy” crew she says she has fought as mayor and governor is unfortunate, to say the least. Let us face facts, if Sarah Palin were Joe Palin, McCain would not have considered him (her) twice, for the same reasons Karl Rove believed that Tim Kaine was not a good running mate for the Democratic party. Intelligent women would not allow themselves to be used in such a blatant fashion.

    The McCain/Palin ticket may have the pizzazz that the Republican party needs and desires, but it has nothing to offer Americans who are for better education, better living wages, better health care, better regulation of businesses, and a better America.

  21. Many people work on their own to better the lives of others. Fewer make it a paid career as Obama chose and brags.

    Careful who you call crazy, lady. That’s been tried already around here and it didn’t go over so well.

    PS. Links are appreciated if you expect to make a credible argument. I heard that it was the Harry Potter books she wanted pulled, but I couldn’t track that down, either.

  22. I prefer to call a spade a spade. It’s ludicrous to think that this country can survive without the diligent work of community organizers. Maybe we should all visit the dictionary Palin had on her list of books to be “banned.”

    Community: 1: a unified body of individuals: as a: state, commonwealth b: the people with common interests living in a particular area.

    I agree that many people “work on their own to better the lives of others.” However, you take George Washington (as noble as he was), put him in the middle of Valley Forge alone, surround by the British, and we’re bowing to the Queen. You take Dr. Martin Luther King (as righteous as he was) place him in Montgomery, Alabama, alone, shouting out for equality, and he will be lynched. But you take Washington and King, place them in their respective localities surrounded by others who share the same views, and you have a community organizer, as well as the birth of an organization.

    The Harry Potter books could not be verified. Consequently, I would like to know what “an intelligent woman” has against Webster’s dictionary.

  23. A fairly simple search (which Michelle apparently did not do) shows well documented cases in the media, including Time, LA Times, Atlanta JC and others, that she inquired as to her ability to have books banned, but there is no documentation of any ever being banned or specific books being requested. Looks like another urban legend. Did you see the Fox News article on the top 7 lies about Sarah Palin? Very interesting.