Participants and instructors of the 2014 Eddie Conway Liberation Institute, the only national debate institute at an HBCU, run and administered by Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. (Photo courtesy of Dayvon Love)
For the past four years, officers of the youth-led, Baltimore-area think tank Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) have sought to train young people to become effective advocates in the fight against structural racism. They have engaged in local politics, including advocating on behalf of Christopher’s Law, a law requiring police officers to receive improved cultural sensitivity and first aid training in an effort to prevent deaths of young Black persons stemming from instances of police violence. They have done so, largely, by reaching into their own pockets in order to fund LBS’s various activities.
Now, four years into the group’s work, they are turning to the Baltimore community in an effort to raise monies that will fund their activities moving forward. They are asking those who believe in their vision to become community supporters, committing $15 a month.
“The idea around the community supporter drive is to be able to have a self-sustaining organization where it allows us to just do LBS full-time,” said Dayvon Love, director of research and public policy for LBS. “It also gives us the resources to do some of the programming.”
That programming includes the Eddie Conway Liberation Institute, the only debate institute in the country held at a historically Black college (Morgan State) and which trains high school debaters to incorporate Black theoretical frameworks into their policy debates; and the Walter P. Carter Leadership Institute, which uses LBS’s background in policy debate to train young people for political advocacy and policy debate.
When LBS was organized in 2010, its members made a conscious decision not to incorporate as a non-profit, aware that it would deprive them of potential revenue streams but preferring the flexibility a for-status designation would give the organization.
“Most organizations can’t directly engage in the political realm because that’s the limitation of a 501(c)(3) status,” said Love. “What’s good about our current configuration is that we can be very explicit about engaging the political realm.”
LBS hopes the community supporter drive will raise enough funds to cover the work they do, making them one of the few Black-led advocacy movements with few constraints in their advocacy on behalf of Black people.
“Once we’re able to really start generating those resources, we’ll be in a position where we’ll have control over the work we do in a way that other organizations don’t,” said Love.
Those interested in becoming supporters can sign up at the group’s website, lbsbaltimore.com. Supporters will receive a monthly newsletter with essays and updates on LBS’s activities. They will also receive discounts on LBS events.