Truth School workshop "How Direct Action Campaigns Can Build Transformational Movements" with George Lakey. Photo: Sojourner Truth School.

The Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, founded in 2017 in response to the election of Donald Trump, has announced a new set of classes, to be offered in the Fall of 2019 (see below).  The Truth School offers free skills-based “movement-building” classes in Greenfield, Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, and Springfield.  The Truth School offers classes with the goal of promoting and facilitating the skills required to build a movement. The School teaches the organizing skills necessary to equip people—young, middle years, and old—to be active, effective, and empowered.  School staff believe that empowered people make change. When people have the skills and confidence they need to organize a vigil, run for elected office, write guest editorials for local and national newspapers, engage in civil disobedience, visit their elected officials, or talk with care and sensitivity across differences, the result is real and lasting change.

“The Sojourner Truth School is scrappy, spunky, and successful,” says Reverend Andrea Ayvazian, the school’s founder and director. “ We operate on an annual budget of $92,000, which pays for a small staff, all of our trainers, as well as supplies and materials. Because we cross three counties, with workshops and classes in five cities, we are breaking down silos and connecting activists to one another. Black Lives Matter folks are seated next to immigrants’ rights activists, next to gun-control folks, next to climate-change activists.” 

The school’s trainers have expertise in their fields; experience teaching, training, and mentoring; and a commitment to a participatory model of teaching and learning. The trainers include educators, social change activists, elected officials, journalists, social workers, members of the clergy, and others with valuable skills to share.

The school’s fall catalogue is being made final now, but is expected to include the following courses: 

  • Restorative Practices Based on Indigenous Values led by Strong Oak
  • Organizational Change: A Coaching Seminar for Activists Working Inside Organizations led by Dr. Patricia Romney
  • The Color of Class led by Rhonda Soto 
  • Preparing to Run for Office: A Workshop for Potential Candidates and their Support Teams led by Tahirah Amatul-Wadud and Yasmin Abdulatheem
  • Running Effective and Productive Meetings led by Tanisha Arena
  • Poetry: How Pain Becomes Beautiful Power led by Johnie Sanders and Jennifer Ladd
  • Helping your Group/Team Grow to Become More Effective and How to Give Hard-to-Hear Feedback without Name-Calling led by Dr. Jacqueline Bearce 
  • Social Activism for Senior Citizens led by Carmen Montes and Katharine Baker 
  • Showing Up Whole in Racial Justice: A Conversation with Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum and Community Leaders 
  • Labyrinth Through Fear led by Janet Aalfs and Ingrid Askew
  • Writing for Social Change led by Tanisha Arena
Showing Up Whole in Racial Justice: a weekend anti-racism workshop, led by trainers from Re-Center in partnership with the Truth School and the Smith Center for Religious and Spiritual Life. Photo: Sojourner Truth School.

More information can be found at the school’s website

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