Event: Meet Heather Booth
Trailer for the aclaimed Lily Rivlin film "Heather Booth: Changing the World./Vimeo
Meet Heather Booth
Heather Booth is one of the nation’s most formidable organizers, with a career that began in the heat of the civil rights and women’s rights movements of the 1960s and remains every bit as active and as relevant today. Heather Booth was part of the Mississippi Summer Project, which created the nonviolent civil rights activist effort to integrate Mississippi’s segregated political system in 1964, in particular challenging segregated and inferior schools in African-American communities.
As a student at the University of Chicago in 1963, Heather Booth quickly became involved in campus civil rights activities and founded a chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. In 1966, she and other students organized a sit-in to protest the school’s policies in support of the Vietnam War protest of the University’s Vietnam War-related policies.
Her keen interest in women’s issues led her to found a campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, followed by formation of the Women’s Radical Action Project, one of the first women’s consciousness-raising groups in the country, and an innovative but underground abortion referral program called JANE, which also provided childcare, and which became the first women’s liberation campus organization of its kind.
In 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King told Memphis sanitation workers the way to civil rights was through union rights, Heather Booth became a labor organizer, with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), where she’s now executive assistant to the president.
In 1973, she founded and directed the Midwest Academy, of which she is now board chair, training thousands of social change organizers across the country.
By the1980s, she was working on mainstream political campaigns, heeding the words of African-American educator, activist, and Illinois state senator Alice Palmer: “If you don’t do politics, politics does you.”
In 2000, Booth headed the NAACP’s National Voter Fund, which helped to increase African American election turnout by nearly 2 million voters.
Since then, she has worked with many nationwide campaigns, including the Health Care Campaign of the AFL-CIO, and the Alliance for Citizenship (the leading coalition for immigration reform).
She has founded, supported, and led numerous organizations to promote citizen activism at local and state levels, among them the The State and Local Leadership Project to support "progressive leadership" candidates, the national coalition Citizen Action, a national organization established by former SDS members, of 2.5 million members in 32 states, and our national partner, People’s Action, formerly known as USAction, which recently merged five progressive organizations with affiliates in 32 states, including United Vision for Idaho.
Among her many board memberships, Heather Booth serves the Center for Community Change, Wellstone Action, and the Editorial Advisory Group of the quarterly magazine Social Policy.
Heather Booth is a consultant for many social change organizations, among them the Center for Community Change (advising on the development of the Community Voting Project), MoveOn.org and National Council of La Raza. She was the lead consultant founding the Campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. She was director of the AFL-CIO Health Care Campaign. She was the founding director of Americans for Financial Reform, fighting to regulate the financial industry. She is now strategic advisor to the Alliance for Citizenship, the Voter Participation Center and the National Organization for Women (NOW).
(Excerpted from “Heather Booth: Living the Movement Life,” a Chicago Womens Liberation Union (CWLU) Herstory Project, documenting movement for women's liberation and social justice of the late 1960s and 1970s. Read more here.)
About the Film: Changing the World
Heather Booth is one of the leading strategists for progressive issues and political campaign issues in the United States. She has been personally involved in activism and rights campaigns for more than half a century. Heather Booth: Changing the World, the latest film by critically acclaimed filmmaker Lilly Rivlin, is an inspiring look the process of social change. The film traces her remarkable career from the height of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Looking at Booth’s life, work and personal relationships with respected leaders such as Julian Bond and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the film explores the most pivotal moments in progressive movements that have altered our history over the past half-century.
Heather Booth: Changing the World blends archival and contemporary footage with interviews with close friends, clients, political colleagues, students and others to understand this one person's legacy in progressive politics, organizing and empowering each of us to create change.
An Afterword From Adrienne Evans
“It is difficult to encapsulate all of Heather’s experience, passion, and drive in a summary highlighting some of her works. Her influence on campaigns in Idaho is also little-known, because that’s how Heather works: She empowers people and organizations across regionallines and the political spectrum. I continue to be influenced by her as I work with her as a guiding force, a mentor, and one of the most powerful voices of our time.”
"It is my greatest wish that every person in Idaho, young or old, who cares about creating change and is committeed to make it happen attend this event. Too often, we are told we cannot change the world. But Heather Booth is an inspiration, not only reminding us that we can make change, but showing us ways to do it, showing us we don’t have to settle for the way things are, but that we can work together to dream of and achieve what is possible.”
-- Adrienne Evans is Executive Director of United Vision for Idaho, and a graduate of the Midwest Academy.
About the Event
Thursday, Oct. 19
Reception and Film featuring Heather Booth
5 p.m. Reception honoring Heather Booth, featuring remarks by Adrienne Evans, executive director of United Vision for Idaho, Aaron White, president of the Idaho AFL-CIO, and Senator Cherie-Buckner Webb (D-19, Boise). The reception will be held at Beside Bardenay, 612 W Grove St, Boise, in the Basque Block.
Reservations for the reception and film screening, which are separate events, may be made by emailing Adrienne Evans.
7 p.m. Screening of Heather Booth: Changing the World, at The Flicks, 646 W Fulton St., Boise. Tickets for the screening only are available here.
This special event with United Vision for Idaho is made possible by the support of the Idaho AFL-CIO.