Friday, October 19, 2012

Gamaliel and the Barack Obama Connection

Barack Obama and the Gamaliel Foundation (Community Action utilizing Faith…..and Saul Alinsky Training)

First this:

From the Gamaliel Foundation:
Gamaliel and the Barack Obama Connection

by Gregory A. Galluzzo

President elect Barack Obama has throughout his political career made repeated references to his time as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. It is important that we all understand the connection between Barack and Gamaliel. In l980 Mary Gonzales and I created the United Neighborhood Organization of Chicago.
In l982 we decided that we needed some expertise from someone who had done faith based community organizing. A person who had worked as such an organizer in Illinois and in Pennsylvania approached me about joining our organizing team. His name was Jerry Kellman. Jerry helped Mary and myself become better organizers. While he was working for us, he connected with a group called the Calumet Community Religious Conference (CCRC) operating on the South Side in the South Suburbs of Chicago, and in Indiana. CCRC had been formed in response to the massive shut down of major industry and the resulting job loss and all of the concomitant social tragedies.

Jerry and I reached an understanding that we would support his work in the South Suburbs so that he could become director of his own project. It was Jerry Kellman who put an ad in the New York Times about an organizing position in the Chicago area. Barack responded; Jerry interviewed him and offered him a position. Barack accepted. Almost at this very time, Jerry propositioned an old friend of his to return to Chicago from Texas and work with him in this new organizing venture. His friend was Mike Kruglik. Mike and Jerry were the first mentors of Barack in organizing.

CCRC, which spanned communities in Northwest Indiana, the South Suburbs and parts of the City of Chicago proved to be unwieldy. Jerry and I decided to split it into three parts. Barack would work to found a new independent project in the South side of Chicago, Mike Kruglik would be the director of the South Suburban Action Conference and Jerry Kellman would develop organizing in Northwest Indiana. At that point Jerry asked me to become Barack’s consultant.

And at this time we were just creating the Gamaliel Foundation. I met with Barack on a regular basis as he incorporated the Developing Communities Project, as he moved the organization into action and as he developed the leadership structure for the organization. He would write beautiful and brilliant weekly reports about his work and the people he was engaging.

When Barack decided to go to Harvard Law School, he approached John McKnight, a professor at Northwestern and a Gamaliel Board member for a letter of recommendation. When Barack was leaving he made sure that Gamaliel was the formal consultant to the organization that he had created and to the staff that he had hired.

Barack has acknowledged publicly that he had been the director of a Gamaliel affiliate. He has supported Gamaliel throughout the years by conducting training both at the National Leadership Training events and at the African American Leadership Commission. He has also attended our public meetings.

We are honored and blessed by the connection between Barack and Gamaliel.


From Discover the Networks:
Network of grassroots organizations working to bring about social change
Models its tactics after those of the radical Sixties activist Saul Alinsky

The stated mission of the Gamaliel Foundation (GF) is “to be a powerful network of grassroots, interfaith, interracial, multi-issue organizations working together to create a more just and more democratic society.” Predicated on the notion that America is a land rife with injustice, GF agitates for social change by supporting the efforts of a network of organizations (the Gamaliel Network) whose goal is to allow for individuals to “effectively participate” in the political, environmental, social and economic arenas. GF offers, for its network affiliates, programs to teach techniques and methodologies for bringing about social change; ongoing consultations; and organizer recruitment campaigns.

The Gamaliel Foundation derives its name from the biblical figure who, according to the New Testament, chastised the Jewish Sanhedrin (rabbinical court) for wanting to give the death penalty to Jesus’s apostles. Says GF, “We work in the hope and the confidence that this work is of God.” GF was established in 1968 to support the Contract Buyers League, an African American organization fighting to protect homeowners on Chicago’s West Side who had been discriminated against by banks and lending institutions.

The Gamaliel Network receives much of its funding from the leftist group Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Yet according to the Roman Catholic Faithful website, GF’s “goals and philosophies are at fundamental odds with Church teaching.” GF endorses “scriptural relativism“and “encourage[s] a wide range of scriptural interpretations.”

The Gamaliel Foundation models itself after the activism of the 1960s radical Saul Alinsky, who authored the books Reveille for Radicals (1946), The Professional Radical (1970), and Rules for Radicals (1971). Alinsky’s prescription for effective organizing consisted of the following elements: (a) Develop a “trade union in the social factory” to serve as a vehicle by which people in the neighborhood can bargain, strike, and struggle to advance their agendas; (b) create a power-oriented community organization willing to use militant, confrontational tactics; and (c) promote a democratic organization where organizers do not themselves lead, but rather develop local leaders so as to create the veneer of self-determination and grassroots democracy.

GF likens its own mission to that of the biblical apostle Paul. “In Corinthians,” explains GF, “Paul states, ‘I am Paul, a disciple of Gamaliel.’ Saul Alinsky made all of his organizers read the letters of Paul because he regarded his namesake to be one of the greatest organizers of all time.”

The Gamaliel Foundation takes a strong stand against current homeland security measures and immigration restrictions. In September of 2003, for example, Ana Garcia-Ashley, GF’s Director of Civil Rights for Immigrants, described the Patriot Actas an “attack on immigrants.” Moreover, GF seeks to persuade the U.S. government to “legalize and provide rights to tax-paying [illegal] immigrants in this country.” ”We support any immigration legislation,” adds GF, “that secures the civil rights of all immigrants; leads to the legalization of undocumented persons; provides for full labor protection and labor rights of immigrants; ends the inhumane detention and warehousing of asylum seekers; ends deportation for minor offenses; encourages family unity; provides security of our borders; includes humane border enforcement policies; [and] protects the civil liberties of all people.”

The Gamaliel Foundation is a sponsoring organization of theImmigrant Workers Freedom Ride Coalition, which seeks to secure ever-expanding rights and civil liberties protections for illegal immigrants, and policy reforms that diminish or eliminate restrictions on immigration.

At its 2003 National Leadership Assembly in Milwaukee, GF assembled a large number of leftist religious leaders to launch a voter drive against the incumbent Bush administration. At the event, featured speaker Rev. Tommie Pierson of Metropolitan Congregations United stated that he looked forward to the sound “of furniture being moved out of the White House.” Also attending the event were Democratic Senator Russ Feingold and Democratic Presidential candidate and Progressive Caucusmember Dennis Kucinich.

Gregory Galluzzo, a former Jesuit priest, is the Executive Director of the Gamaliel Foundation. In 1980 Galluzzo co-founded, along with his wife Mary Gonzalez, a Chicago Latino activist organization called the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO). Today, Ms. Gonzalez is the Gamaliel Foundation’s Director of Western Territory. UNO, also modeled after Alinsky’s methods, is known for using aggressive organizing and confrontational tactics to push for change.

The President of the Board of the Gamaliel Foundation is Ann Smith, who in 1985 became the first black female to win a statewide election in Illinois when she was voted onto the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

The Gamaliel Foundation receives grants from theBauman Family Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, theW.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ford Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, and others.


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