Notes From a CLPP Alum: We Are the Movement

By Courtney Hooks, PopDev Reproductive and Environmental Justice Fellow

As students arrived on campus in September, I was excited to start a new chapter at Hampshire—as PopDev’s first Reproductive and Environmental Justice Fellow. This fall, I helped to coordinate Bridging Movements to Build Climate Justice, a national climate justice convening in October, organized by PopDev and allies. I also work with student interns to develop their political writing skills.

CLPP and PopDev were a home base for me throughout college. I was able to connect with and provide valuable support to organizations doing powerful on-the-ground reproductive justice work within their communities. My time as a RRASC intern with HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive) was one of the most formative experiences of my life. I did street outreach, staffed the emergency hotline, and helped start the syringe exchange program. As a student conference coordinator for the 2010 conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom, I developed my organizing skills, working side-by-side with seasoned activists. In my final year, I honed my social media skills on the 30th Anniversary blog, uncovering the long, proud history of program participants organizing, speaking out, and broadening the scope of causes we believe in.

This past July, CLPP sent Akira Céspedes Pérez and me to facilitate a day-long leadership institute entitled We Are the Movement at SisterSong Let’s Talk About Sex conference in Miami, Florida. The institute provided much needed space for young leaders to map the history of our movement, connect and network with each other, share our visions for reproductive justice, and develop skills and tools to take back to our own communities and organizing efforts. We discussed common definitions of reproductive justice, and explored what reproductive justice means to us. We moved through a a timeline of reproductive oppression and freedom, adding our own knowledge and experiences, ate great food, and discussed our work in the movement at a networking lunch. In the afternoon, we brainstormed and developed a collective vision for the reproductive justice movement and created flexible action plans to guide us toward making our individual and collective visions and goals reality. At the end of the day, we produced short “vision videos” (available on the CLPP YouTube channel) to amplify our voices and inspire others to get theirs out into the world.  We got to spend the rest of the conference attending workshops together, talking about what we were learning, swimming in the ocean, cracking jokes, eating Cuban food in Little Havana, having sleepovers, and getting to know each other better.

I learned a great deal as a facilitator—namely, that there is such a large pool of intelligent, passionate, driven young people of color and young allies from all over the country who are a part of this movement and bring so much wisdom and insight to the table. We are an incredible resource. We can draw on each other for support, encouragement, and advice. We can build each other up as we continue to build this movement. We are the movement.

Courtney Hooks is a Hampshire graduate, former Reproductive Rights Activist Service Corps intern at HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), doula with The Doula Project, and legal advocate with Justice Now. She was also the co-coordinator of the 2010 From Abortion Rights to Social Justice conference.


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