Four Family Centered Collective Actions Your Family Can Take For Black Lives Matter (and Four Others You Shouldn't)


IMG_0068_(1).JPGFollowing the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, Showing Up For Racial Justice Families heard from countless parents across the country who are ready to take action to ensure that Black Lives Matter. Many families are also looking to find, build or strengthen local anti-racist communities.

Photo by Chris Crass

Below are four family collective centered actions you can organize on your own, with a few friends, or a larger parent group. These actions can be a one time occurrence or leveraged as an opportunity to bring together likeminded families and create an ongoing racial justice community. (Hint: to start a mini movement, just set a date for a next event and ask for a few volunteers to help plan it, and/or, set a monthly time to get together).

Join the conversation about racial justice with other parents and caregivers on the Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook page.

Note that many of these ideas can also be used by local SURJ chapter and affiliate organizations to encourage family participation.

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“Act In” Where You Already Are

Screen_Shot_2016-07-22_at_9.40.59_PM.pngIf it’s hard for you to add more meetings and actions into your family schedule, “act in” where you are.

What it is: Racism is everywhere, we don't have to go to a special meeting to take action for racial justice. As families, we engage with a lot of people outside of “activist world” and can bring them into racial justice work through the mutual interest of raising kids in a world without racism.


Photo credit: Rivkah Beth Medow

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Racial Justice Story Time

BooksWhat it is: Parents, kids, and their community to come together and talk about Black Lives Matter and other racial justice issues through stories and play. This can be organized once, or as a regular event.

What you need: Children’s books (check out some good lists from Teaching For Change or Oakland Public Library) and/or activities for kids (bubbles, sidewalk chalk, coloring sheets, and/or crafts). Also, think of an action ask to share, like writing a letter, joining an event, or making a donation to people of color led organizing (some suggestions here). Some story time groups like We Stories have books that grownups read together also.

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Caregiver Vigil

Photo-credit:-Devin-FosterWhat it is: Parents, caregivers, their loved ones, and community gather for a vigil that is messaged around solidarity with families of color.

What you need: A location that is safe and accessible, signs, candles, flowers, children’s activities, and sound equipment for any speeches (optional)         

Photo Credit: Devin Foster 

Messaging: White Families in Solidarity With Black Lives Matter, White Families Breaking White Silence


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Family Friendly Direct Action

Z_Denver_ActionWhat it is: Parents, caregivers, their loved ones, and community take and hold space together in a call for racial justice in family friendly ways. There’s a range of possible direct actions ranging from Black Lives Matter marches in safe spaces like playgrounds or schoolyards.

Photo credit: Chris Crass

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Reaching for The Other America on the 4th of July

By Coleen MurphyColeen No More Racist Heroes

Last year, on the 4th of July, I observed the day by attending a burning of the confederate battle flag in front of one of the most prominent of my city’s symbols of white supremacy: The Robert E. Lee statue. “Don’t get arrested!” my teenage son called to me as I headed out the door. I told him that while my arrest was not likely, he should be sure to answer any calls from unknown numbers until I got home, just in case.

There are lots of 4th of July observances, celebrations, what have you, and I want you know that there are alternatives to traditional 4th of July celebrations which we can join, or even organize in our communities.

Here are some ideas about how we can mark the occasion by setting our intentions to work towards creating “the other America” that Ann Braden so often spoke of. She says:

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Make May Day Family Friendly

May Day Action with Children ToolkitBLMHeroes1.jpg

May Day is a tangible and concrete opportunity to call our youngest activists in to action. Our children have a strong, natural sense of “fairness” and May Day is a great opportunity to help them connect their sense of personal fairness to bigger questions of racial and social justice. It's a chance for them to learn how to question injustice and take action for change.

Wealthy slave owners created the concept of racism in America to divide and conquer the poor and stay in power. On May Day and everyday, we're reminded that we can only achieve freedom for all of us through racial justice.

In this toolkit you’ll find action items that come in various shapes and sizes designed for your lifestyles. Pick one or two or more that make sense to you to do. As white people showing up for racial justice, join us in engaging your youngest children in our struggle. We want dignity and justice for all people!

 2 MINUTE ACTION: In just 1 click you can spread the word

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#RaiseUpJustice #RaiseUpLove Resolutions

The morning that we learned that there would be no charges for the officer responsibleZ_Resolutions_2016for taking Tamir Rice’s life, I woke up like any other morning. As the sun broke and I snuggled into my sleeping child lost to a world of dreams a mere 350 miles away a mother most likely laid awake lost in grief for her stolen son. A life taken decades too early, murdered by a system that protects its killers and blames its victims. On December 28, 2015 Prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced that on his suggestion a grand jury has decided not to bring charges on Officer Timothy Lohemann, the officer responsible for taking the life of Tamir Rice. Thinking about these mothers and the coming of the new year made me realize it’s time that we, as white families, resolve to #RaiseUpLove, #RaiseUpJustice, and #Resolve2Resist Racism. - Rebecca

Zoë and their family (pictured) resolve to host racial justice story time in 2016. What's your racial justice resolution? 

This is an invitation for you to consider your racial justice resolutions for this year, and to share them confidently and call in your friends to do the same. Stay tuned for a pledge you can sign and share!        

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#RaiseUpJustice Diverse Books Starter Kit

SURJ Families #RaiseUpJustice Diverse Books Starter Kit

WNDB_Button.pngHere’s a book list that will help you #RaiseUpJustice & #RaiseUpLove with your children and in your community. This list has been crowdsourced with the input of rad SURJ Families, Raising Race Conscious Children and friends from many of the communities featured in these books. We are are raising our children while talking about race and racism and teaching and modeling for them how we can stand up for and include all of our friends. Diverse books provide "mirrors and windows" that help kids see reflections of themselves in the world, and also to see and get to know the lives of people who are different from them. 

Check these books out from your library, or, when you buy a book off this list from Powell's (by clicking on the cover or book name), you support indy book stores and also contribute to the important work that SURJ does. Consider donating some of these books to your schools, libraries, congregations, daycares and anywhere where you want to help #RaiseUpJustice & #RaiseUpLove.

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Multi-generational Organizing Spaces Toolkit

SURJ Families: Who We Are

My Friends - photo credit Amy RoseHow we got started:  In August 2015, SURJ leaders from around the country gathered to build work groups and a regional resource structure to help us reach 7 million White people needed to make sustainable change.  A few leaders took this time to focus on building what SURJ Families would look like as we begin to focus on calling in white families, caregivers, and elders, striving to build a movement that reflects the full picture of humanity’s ages and stages.  

Mission and Purpose: SURJ Families is a working group within SURJ, a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice that grew out of a need to create space to engage families, caregivers and elders into our work for racial justice.  As a team, we focus on organizing multi-generational spaces that are inclusive and accommodating for people of all ages, from kids to elders. We believe there is power in parents, caregivers and our youth showing up to break white silence as we strive to create a just and inclusive society for our future generations.  The purpose of SURJ Families is to help SURJ chapters and affiliates to move towards multi-generational spaces and actions to help broaden our membership.  We are available to help coach groups, develop toolkits and action kits that are focused on multi-generational spaces, uplift resources that are geared towards families and caregivers, and help find space in the already flowing movement for Black Lives Matter for families and caregivers.

Shared values:

SURJ Families aligns with the SURJ core values.

  • Tap into mutual interest.
  • Calling people in, not calling people out

  • Accountability through collective action

  • Taking risks, learning and keeping going

  • Enough for everyone

  • Growing is good

Tips and tricks for creating multigenerational spaces within your SURJ Chapter or affiliate group:

Why is this important and helpful?
Multigenerational spaces are a key component to the sustainability of movement change.  When children and youth are engaged in the building and learning of movement spaces for racial justice they become part of the building of what the future looks like for themselves, and this can help to keep them engaged as that future plays out.  It's also so much more fun for everyone, and more effective to the overall picture, too. Talking with children in the room makes us simplify our words and ideas and ground us in our basic values. Talking with our elders makes us wiser and connects us to the history we are building upon.  We learn with our children and from our elders, even when those children and elders don't technically belong to us!  One of the most important things to remember about multigenerational spaces is that we are educating a future generation about how movements work.  You are showing them the good moments and the tense moments of movement building so they can gain an understanding of how to continue this work when they are older to build sustainable change.       

SURJ Families Guide to Fostering Multi-Generationally Inclusive Movement Spaces

Some Key Steps & Basic Concepts to Keep in Mind 

Other resources for Fostering multigenerational spaces:

Moving into Action and creating safe multi-generational action spaces:  

One of SURJ’s core values is accountability through action.  As families, caregivers and elders we face a few extra hurdles to overcome in order to physically be able to show in meaningful ways.  It is also important that we respect the space of people of color organizers and understand it is not their place to make space for white families to show up at actions. but rather, it is part of our collective role as SURJ Families to find ways to open up space for white families to move into action with our children, youth and elders in order to educate through modeling activism in our lives.   

Sometimes life’s limitations can keep us from being able to attend a rally, protest, march or direct action and that is ok!  That doesn't mean we can't contribute to the action from afar!  There are plenty of ways we can plug in from home and some tricks to creating space at those rallies and marches.  A few things to keep in mind as you build these spaces is that it is important to always engage the children and youth in why we are moving into action, don’t just use them as bodies or props, help them to learn the what and the why of racial justice.  When possible make these spaces fun, incorporate art and activities that can help educate and make this a place families, caregivers and elders want to be.  Below are 3 documents that help outline ways you can plug families, caregivers and elders into different areas of action based on their individual needs.  You should be creating an atmosphere of meeting people where they are at in life and helping to make action possible for everyone.

Actions you can take from home and still make an impact.

Actions you can take in the streets, tools to make rallies and protests multi-generational. 

Actions you can take in your community to break white silence and plant seeds of conversation.

Read the notes from the SURJ Families Call "Creating Multi-Generational Organizing Spaces"

Listen to the December 14, 2015 SURJ Families "Creating Multi-Generational Organizing Spaces" Call Recording

We want to hear about the actions and meeting spaces you create for SURJ Families in your local work.  Please join our Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook group and e-mail us your stories at  We are also available for support and coaching if you have any questions, comments or concerns please reach out.

Thank you to all who contributed resources to this toolkit. In particular Coleen Murphy, Zoë Williams, Julie Roberts-Phung and Rebecca Frederick. Photo credit Amy Rock.

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