Southern Echo is a leadership development, education and training organization working to develop effective accountable grassroots leadership in the African-American communities in rural Mississippi and the surrounding region through comprehensive training and technical assistance programs.
This work has carried Echo staff into 12 other states in the south and southwest. The underlying goal is to empower local communities through effective community organizing work, in order to create a process through which community people can build the broad-based organizations necessary to hold the political, economic, educational, and environmental systems accountable to the needs and interests of the African-American community.
A special emphasis for Echo is the active inclusion of young people, in an inter-generational model of community organizing, on the same basis as adults. Young people are less dependent upon the past, have the least fear of change, and the best potential for creating a broad vision of a fair and just society.
Bringing younger and older together in the same training and work ensures that younger people become part of the evolving leadership process. When older leadership cannot carry on any more, younger people are already in place, with knowledge, experience and commitment to sustain the work. Younger people get hands-on experience that enables them to develop the vision, tools and skills necessary for effective leadership.
The development of new, accountable leadership and organizations to empower the community depends on the transformation of individuals who do the organizing work, and transformation of the communities in which they work.