Thoughts and Actions—Sign Up Now!

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This past weekend, on our way to celebrate the holiday here in Pennsylvania, where we’ve relocated for the summer, I sat down with my wife to revisit a piece we often read on July 4th: Frederick Douglass’s masterful speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

Even 168 years later, it hits hard. Douglass lays bare the hypocrisy of celebrating national freedom while so many Black people remain in chains, invoking the hope of a future in which America and the world live up to their ideals of freedom.

Seeking to share the speech with our children, my wife and I found a new reading by Douglass’s descendants, produced by NPR. I was particularly moved to hear Isidore Skinner, Douglass’s great, great, great, great-grandchild, say the following:

“Pessimism is a tool of white oppression.”

Trump’s election left many of us in a deep, profound state of mourning. Of grief. Of disbelief, and at times a lack of hope. And after four years of bad news, it can feel harder than ever to find hope. 

Environmental degradation is worse than we imagined. The children of immigrants upon whose backs our economy rests remain detained in cages. Hate groups are not only on the rise, but have received winks, nods, and even open support from the White House. Corruption and criminality are unchecked. 

And unfortunately, the pandemic is bringing new problems we never anticipated. 

Voter registration is catastrophically low for a presidential election year

What’s more, the Times recently wrote that Trump could easily become competitive in Pennsylvania. While Biden’s ground game remains virtual, “the Trump campaign has returned to in-person door knocking and… says it has 106 organizers in the state to identify and motivate supporters….”   

At this dark moment in history, when the forces of reaction mobilize against us with no regard for human life, when our problems feel impossible to overcome, we need to lift up this idea:

If pessimism is a tool of oppression, working for a better world is a means of resistance.  

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate victories such as enshrining rights for LGBT Americans and Dreamers, and the changes enacted as a result of the murder of George Floyd. 

It’s why CTC’s coaches and our data, tech, and logistics teams are diligently experimenting, inventing and reinventing ways to reach voters that others tend to overlook, or where traditional approaches tend not to work. It’s why 40+ of us got on the phones this weekend to personally invite our friends and family to get involved. And why we are constantly holding informational sessions about what it means to get involved.

It’s why we have hired two new organizers and why our fundraising team continues to raise money. It’s why all CTC staff are now located in Pennsylvania, immersed in the struggle to flip the state. It’s why our partners at the LA LGBT Leadership Lab are considering the same. It’s why a small group of us will begin a pilot study of what it’s like to door knock safely in a pandemic

And it’s why we are asking all of you to get involved – not next month or next week, but right now.

So join us. 

Because despite the pessimism that holds us back, hope combined with action is the only thing that can move us forward. 

Adam Barbanel-Fried
Director, CTC Together


Info Sessions
New to CTC? Come to an info session on July 8 or July 15 to find out more about our work. 

Virtual Canvasses
Eager to get your hands dirty and join in the work? Sign up for a two-part training and virtual canvass.
July 8-12: Training and Deep Canvassing Events
July 15-19: Training and Deep Canvassing Events

Book Talk Fundraiser
CTC Together is pleased to host a virtual book reading and discussion led by Eitan Hersh, author of Politics is for Power: How to Move Beyond Political Hobbyism, Take Action and Make Real Change. Hersh’s groundbreaking book depicts CTC Together as one of the models that allows citizens to obtain and use real political power. It is a fascinating critique of “politics as entertainment” that permeate our public discourse. Hersh is an associate professor of Political Science at Tufts University. Tickets are available for a minimum donation of $25.  Register here.


CTC Together is excited to welcome Austin Smith (above left) and LL Randolph (above right) as our new professional organizers, both based in Pennsylvania.

Austin’s first organizing experience was in 2018, volunteering with members of White People 4 Black Lives in a signature-gathering effort to put a decarceration voter initiative on the ballot in LA County. The mobilization far exceeded its goal of 10,000 signatures, delivering 25,000 signatures for the initiative and growing from five to more than 130 people at their actions.

After a stint traveling South America, Austin returned to LA as a regional field director on the deep canvassing campaign to help pass that ballot measure, now called Measure R: the largest redirection of funds away from incarceration and into community services ever attempted in the US. After a powerful, transformative campaign experience, Measure R passed by a landslide. Austin is passionate about movement building and empowering people with the tools to organize for the long haul.
  “I am so thrilled to be joining CTC’s work in Bucks County.” Austin says. “For the time being, I’m mostly plugging into the Data and Tech & Logistics Teams, and I’m excited to build robust, functional, and scalable systems that will let us accommodate exponential growth in our organizational base and build a mobilization that exceeds our goals.”

LL first joined CTC Together for a virtual info session in March after reading Politics is For Power by Eitan Hersh. She began volunteering as a canvasser and in the leadership with the Recruiting Team soon thereafter. Although she had also been volunteering for the Biden for President Campaign, she soon switched her focus entirely to her work with CTC and thinks deep canvassing is worth going “all-in” for.

She has professional experience in volunteer management and education and most recently served as interim director of volunteer programs at Washington English Center, an adult-education center serving immigrants in Washington, DC. She received a Bachelor of Science from Mississippi State University in Psychology and still likes to get meta and think about thinking.

LL says, “I think CTC’s volunteers are political powerhouses and that you all are going to be what makes the difference in this election to defeat Trump!” 

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