| Program: || Summer of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), San Francisco-Bay Area, Calif. |
| Contact(s): || Harmony Goldberg, Education Coordinator: (510) 540-5764 Rona Fernandez: (510) 288-6496 |
| Purpose: || To equip young people with the skills to organize around issues that promote building a multicultural, economically just society |
The Summer Of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) grew out of the 1995 student movement at the University of California-Berkeley to support affirmative action. Modeled after the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), SOUL was founded by four women--Rona Fernandez, Harmony Goldberg, Tho Vinh Banh and Amanda Enoch--who were directly involved in the Berkeley campus organizing. They agreed there was a need to create a program that would address the challenges within multiracial coalitions that organize for social change as well as develop links between college campuses and community organizing.
SOUL began as a summer training program in 1996. The first summer program focused on organizing to support affirmative action in the University of California system. The second summer focused on welfare and economic justice organizing. The summer program has two parts: the Community Organizing Internship and Political Education and Evaluation. In the Community Organizing Internship, young people are placed into 4- to 8-week internships with organizations working for racial and economic justice in low-income communities. Organizations that SOUL has worked with include Californians for Justice, Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, Coalition on Homelessness and Berkeley-Oakland Support Services. In Political Education and Evaluation, the interns meet three times a week to study, evaluate their internship experiences and build group unity. They study issues such as racism, poverty and sexism, as well as the history of several social organizing movements.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Former SOUL interns work in a variety of fields around the Bay Area. One young woman is working on housing development issues in the Mission District of San Francisco and another is the editor of the African American student newspaper at Berkeley High School. Several interns remain active in student organizing around the Bay Area (e.g. University of California-Berkeley, San Francisco State University, California State University-Monterey Bay). Other interns are still working with the organizations in which they were placed for the summer. Rona Fernandez and Harmony Goldberg are now extending SOUL into a year-round political education and organizer-training program for young people in the Bay Area. The program will continue to deal openly with racial and economic inequality and work to bring young people together from many different communities to build a common vision for social justice.