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Press release/statement

#BlackWorkersMatter Report Shows Potential of Black Worker Organizers

(NEW YORK, NY) This morning, the Building Movement Project (BMP)—a Demos affiliate that equips nonprofits to advance social change—contributed to a new report #BlackWorkersMatter. It highlights how the economic crisis affects black communities, shares analysis on the black jobs crisis, and elevates the importance of investing in efforts to organize black workers.

They issued the following press release:

Building off the renewed spirit of black activism sparked by the #BlacksLivesMatter movement, a new report released today looks at the state of black workers and the economic and employment barriers they face.

The #BlackWorkersMatter report examines the real roots of the black jobs crisis and black worker organizers’ potential to address the twin crises of high unemployment and low wages. The report features chapters from five experts and concludes with a set of recommendations for organizers, funders, and policymakers to improve the lives and prospects of black people in America.

“When we say #BlackLivesMatter, we are also saying that the quality of those lives matters,” said Sean Thomas-Breitfeld, co-director of the Building Movement Project and one of the authors of the report. “Economic opportunity is fundamental to the quality of black lives. Several years after the Great Recession, we see that black workers are still facing a jobs crisis with no end in sight.”

In the report’s first chapter, “Working While Black: The State of Black Worker Organizing in the U.S.,” Thomas-Breitfeld conducted 29 interviews with community organizers, national experts, and foundation staff to capture the landscape of labor organizing within black communities. Among his findings:

  • The #BlackLivesMatter movement has increased the sense of urgency and energy in community organizing around black issues, but organizations are still challenged to develop campaign narratives that also address anti-black racism.
  • Black worker organizing is a relatively new and emerging field. Of the 13 state and local organizations interviewed, only three were founded before 2005.
  • The pressing demands for jobs leads to a wide variety of campaigns, from local development policies and community benefit agreements to ban the box initiatives that remove barriers to employment for people with criminal records.

“Community and worker organizing is the only way for black workers to challenge the structural barriers that maintain and advance social, political, and economic inequality in black communities,” said Thomas-Breitfeld. “Black workers need to build enough political and institutional power to change policies that have left black workers behind everyone else.”

Among its recommendations, the report finds:

  • Black worker organizing must be integrated among racial and economic justice funders to reinforce the links between these issues and organizations.
  • The scale of funding for black worker organizing must be drastically increased and sustained for several years.
  • Investment must be made in black leadership development to train and support the next generation of black organizational leaders.


The complete #BlackWorkersMatter report will be released on Friday, May 1st at the State of the Black Worker in America conference at Columbia University. The full report can be downloaded at

For more information, please contact BMP director Sean Thomas-Breitfeld at [email protected]