Basics of Grassroots Activism

Anyone can be an activist. It does not take any special skills or superhuman abilities. You just need to care enough about people imprisoned by unjust drug laws.

We want you to realize that you as an individual can educate hundreds of people in your community. Lots of us have been doing this for quite sometime, left our isolation to tell our fellow citizens that it is our government that should be ashamed. Your conversation affects people that hear you. As you begin to talk to others, they will change how they think about the issue of drug war imprisonment.

Leave a flyer, leaflet or tabloid in public places wherever you go. Look for public places that have reading racks and make a regular route to replenish the rack with literature: Laundromats, church reception areas, libraries, auto repair waiting rooms, beauty and barber shops, bookstores, café, etc.

Visit attorneys that serve drug defendants and ask if you can keep a supply of literature replenished in their reception area.

Enclose a flyer or leaflet with every bill payment and personal correspondence you send.

Wear one of November Coalition's slogan T-shirts, POWD bracelet or pins. People that see you will begin to recognize visible images of mounting opposition to prohibition and mass incarceration.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the drug war and the detrimental affect that it is having on our society.

Join November Coalition volunteers nationwide. We will introduce you to activists in your region.

Begin to bring people in your community together for informal discussions. Arrange to use a library room and show the PBS Frontline documentary, Snitch, or have a series of monthly video presentations and discussions around these presentations. We can recommend a program series for you.

Speak up! Call radio talk shows and let your opinions be known. If the talk show is discussing taxes, call up to complain about your tax dollars wasted in a futile war and prisons are not the answer. If you have a loved one imprisoned, learn to give the background of your personal experience of injustice in a sentence or two. Nora Callahan has learned to say, "My brother was charged and imprisoned in 1989, for a drug conspiracy and sentenced to 27 years in federal prison. There was no evidence, just the word of those who traded testimony against my brother for their freedom."

Take a display to a college, or offer to give an oral presentation. Many civic groups that meet weekly and monthly are always looking for speakers for these routine meetings. We can help you prepare and have materials available for making a display with impact!

Find out who is working on issues of social justice in your community. To introduce yourself, call and make a lunch appointment if you can afford to pick up the tab. Research your newspaper reporters. Who covers criminal and social justice issues? How do they write about the drug war? Try to make a personal contact with reporters; let them know you are a community activist working on drug law reform.

Make a directory of the local television network affiliates and national network addresses. Keep pre-stamped postcards by your easy chair, along with the addresses of the major stations. When a show covers drug abuse, repeats untruthful government propaganda, or favorable, comprehensive and unbiased press on our issue, jot down the station, program name, scene, and date. At the station's next break, take a postcard and write a short, polite message to the appropriate network. Thank them for a good story, or expose the lies. Remember to ask them to visit,

Set aside at least part of one day each week to write your local, state and federal elected officials and newspaper and magazine editors. It may feel futile, but with dissent rapidly mounting, these letters are more important to write than ever before. If you have taken advantage of the electronic news services listed on our Stay Informed webpage, you will always have plenty of issues and ideas for your letters. When a legislator writes back, answer the letter, especially if they did not address your concerns adequately. To find your legislators enter your zip code at:

Invite your friends and family members over for a dessert pot-luck and letter-writing party! Together you can compose a letter that all of you can sign and present with your contact information. Legislators will respond and share their views. You will have a good idea where they stand on drug war issues and will enable your friends and family members to plan a face to face group meeting with elected officials.

Watch for hearings and meetings proposing a new prison or jail in your area. Attend the meeting or hearings to voice your opposition to more prisons. We don't need new prisons; we need the repeal of drug prohibition laws. These are appropriate gatherings for a group to wear their slogan T-shirts.