Enthusiasm! The Action Handbook by Norman Vincent Peale

By Norman Vincent Peale

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1 In these and many other examples, “winning” a court case did not eliminate the need to organize for power. In fact, when legal strategies end up reducing capacity for organizing they can create real problems. The point is not that you never want to use lawsuits as a strategy. Many important changes in America have been won at least in part through lawsuits. But you need to be careful to distinguish between organizing and lawsuits as a strategy. If you are going to pursue a lawsuit, you need to develop strategies for keeping organizing groups engaged in the issue while the case is moving through the courts.

In fact, something like this had happened earlier to King in Albany, Georgia, with the result that the civil rights forces largely failed to achieve their aims. Because Connor pulled out his water cannons and attack dogs, because people all across America saw vicious attacks on peacefully marching black children, the Birmingham campaign generated the horrified public response King wanted. The powerful in Birmingham gave power to King through their reactions to his tactics. A good tactic, then, is based on a depth of knowledge about the opposition.

If someone opposes the group, then they become an enemy, even if they have been a friend before. Advocacy Is Not Organizing Advocates generally speak for others instead of trying to help people speak for themselves. The relatively privileged professionals that usually head up advocacy groups decide for the less powerful what they need and present these expert conclusions to the powerful. Similarly, self-appointed “grassroots leaders” who don’t actually represent any significant collection of local people sometimes take it upon themselves to represent the point of view of “their” entire group without making much effort to find out what people in this group actually believe or want.

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