From the Executive Director

PRAccess - Fall/Winter 2004

My reentry into fulltime movement work this summer has been a stimulating and rewarding experience, personally and politically.

When I first joined the Women's Movement, the economy still allowed the middle class to believe in the American dream. We were in college; we were almost all White. Immigrant was a word usually reserved for grandparents, and gay only meant happy. We fought for Civil Rights, but we didn't move in a multicultural world. Most of us had no knowledge or memory of previous political movements in America—the exceptions were the few "Red Diaper Babies," (children of the Old Left, usually Communist Party), who enjoyed a subtly superior status because "they knew more," even if only from dinner table conversations.

I reentered a movement that is gratifyingly multicultural: for activists in their twenties and thirties, a monocolor world is a distant reality. The social valence of "Immigration" and "Gay" [LGBT] is powerful, and the presence of "the 60s movement" is present in many ways. In part due to the struggles of the sixties and seventies, the United States opened new doors for people of color and the poor. However, the dawn of the 21st century brings with it a coalition of powerful forces bent on shrinking "public goods" drastically. We are now in danger of losing many of the hard won victories. Doors are being shut for those in need of education, social safety nets, health care, citizenship, affordable housing, affirmative action. Many Americans are angry and some seek scapegoats to vent frustrations. That can get ugly. We have work to do.

Two generations of movement activists now work simultaneously throughout this country. Each has a unique store of knowledge, skills and experiences. Many activists from the 60s and 70s also have resources and access to important networks of individuals and organizations. We need to interact more. The movement for social justice needs coalitions that cross all kinds of lines, and generational is one of them.

With Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale and Vivien Labaton as Co-Chairs of the Board of Directors, PRA is taking an initial step to bridge two generations of activists in the Women's Movement. Katherine is an Episcopal priest serving as Vicar of St. David's Church in Pepperell, MA. She served for 17 years on the national board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and is also on the board of NARAL Pro Choice America. Vivien is the founding Director of the Third Wave Foundation, a national organization supporting leadership development for young women activists ages 15 to 30. She is also co-editor of the recently published collection The Fire This Time, Young Activists and the New Feminism.

PRA is poised on the threshold of implementing an exciting new long range plan. While we will continue our decades long commitment to monitoring and analyzing the Right, we will increase our participation in strategic alliances and coalitions, giving new priority to "Action Research" to communicate PRA's message to multiple audiences.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support for the work PRA is doing. We look forward to continuing our relationship with each of you as we work together to meet the challenges of the next years in the struggle for social justice.

-Roberta Salper

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