Echo Celebrates 20 Years of Empowering Low-Wealth Grassroots Communities

Celebration Jackson, MS – April 22, 2011 – On December 10, 2010, Southern Echo, Inc. celebrated 20 years of empowering low-wealth grassroots communities to become architects of public policy rather than objects of public policy. A host of community organizers, funders, elected officials, family, and allies gathered as well wishers to celebrate Echo’s continued work in the interest of communities of color and of low-wealth by fighting racism through empowerment, developing grassroots leadership, fostering an intergenerational model of community organizing, engaging in truthtelling and overcoming fear, holding public officials accountable, pooling resources across low-wealth communities, providing technical and legal assistance, and providing training and intermediate support.

The success of the celebration stands as a testimony to the importance and impact of Echo’s work in census and redistricting processes, public education reform, juvenile justice reform, budget and tax reform, and environmental justice initiatives.

A number of community activists, elected officials, funders, and Echo staff members received awards for their dedication to the work of Echo. Leroy Johnson, Mike Sayer, and Hollis Watkins, co-founders of Southern Echo, were awarded the lifetime achievement award for their ambien no prescription years of dedication to the vision and mission of Echo. Alta Starr, as an individual, and the 21st Century, New World, and Norman Foundations, as institutions, were awarded the Visionary Award for their significant role in enabling Southern Echo to spring to life as an independent organization with its own resources with which to carry on the struggle to empower the African American community in Mississippi and the southern region. (A more extensive list of honorees may be found by clicking this link.)

When Southern Echo started its work in 1989 to build the capacity of African American communities to form a network of new, accountable grassroots community organizations, on an inter-generational model, the co-founders did not believe Echo’s work would go unsuppressed for twenty years. Echo continues to work toward its vision of empowering 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 of African-American and low-wealth communities.