6 Activist Organizations Fighting For Change

Throughout our nation's history, many movements have grown from the bold actions of a single individual or group. This progressive tradition continues in the present day, with countless organizations fighting on behalf of incarcerated people, the environment, and economic justice. Here, in no particular order, is a selection of groups advocating for social change.

Coming in at #1 is March For Our Lives. Founded in the aftermath of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, this organization advocates for sensible gun violence prevention policies. Relying on the power of young people, it boasts hundreds of local chapters across the country.

March For Our Lives has developed its Peace Plan for a Safer America, a detailed proposal outlining specific steps that political leaders can take to confront gun violence. Furthermore, it strives to bring more young people into the political process and increase youth turnout in elections. It also works to improve access to mental health and domestic violence resources.

In the #2 spot is ALIGN. Operating in New York, ALIGN is a collaboration between labor and community organizations fighting for economic justice and sustainability across the state. To further its mission, it combines coalition building, strategic communications, and policy work.

Active at the intersection of the economy, the environment, and social justice, ALIGN seeks to translate smaller changes into a large-scale movement. Its campaigns center on a variety of issues, including climate change, public transit, and workers' rights. Furthermore, it engages in research, publishing reports on topics such as gentrification and solar energy.

At #3 is LIVE FREE, a project of Faith in Action. Headquartered in Berkeley, this nationwide campaign seeks to combat gun violence, mass incarceration, and the criminalization of people of color. A faith-based initiative, it harnesses the power of religious congregations to bring about social justice reforms.

LIVE FREE supports strategies that have been proven to reduce gun violence and incarceration rates. It researches and publishes reports on policing in counties across the United States, offering specific grades and policy recommendations. Elsewhere, its project "The Unheard" highlights stories of local efforts from leaders in cities such as Miami, Chicago, and Oakland.

Coming in at #4 is the Human Rights Defense Center. Initially founded in 1990 as Prisoners' Legal News, this nonprofit works to protect the rights of people held in detention facilities in the United States. In support of its mission, HRDC engages in litigation, advocacy efforts, and the publication of works on criminal justice and the law.

Specific initiatives from HRDC include the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice, which seeks to make calls more affordable for incarcerated people, and Wrongly Convicted, a project supporting exonerated prisoners. In addition, the Human Rights Defense Center publishes Prison Legal News and Criminal Legal News, two monthly magazines on criminal justice issues.

In the #5 spot is People's Kitchen Collective. Based in Oakland, this organization combines art, activism, and food into a project of political education. Drawing on the diverse backgrounds of its founders, PKC crafts immersive experiences that pay respect to personal history, migrations, and human resilience.

Valuing justice, equity, and freedom, People's Kitchen Collective, in its pursuit of radical hospitality, offers community dining experiences. These collaborations often feature artists, writers, and activists, and facilitate cultural and political discussions. In addition, PKC partners with other organizations to create installations, exhibitions, and workshops that explore the potential of food.

Last but not least, at #6 is the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. Based in New York, it brings together religion, academia, policy, and culture to halt ecological destruction and support the long-term health of the environment.

Powered by a dedicated team, the center runs several programs in its effort to influence public consciousness. It focuses on the areas of environmental justice and civic engagement, eco-ministry, global sustainability, and Indigenous traditions. In particular, it is concerned with the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable communities.