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Suffolk County Residents Take Action

In Suffolk County, New York, racial and ethnic demographics are shifting, creating opportunities to change both politics and public policy.  As these changes unfold, the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) has been partnering with Make the Road New York (MRNY) and New York Communities for Change (NYCC) to build lasting relationships and shared power within African-American and Latino immigrant communities. In recent years, both MRNY and NYCC have been building membership bases in Suffolk County and have worked together through the Long Island Civic Engagement Table to ensure that policymakers understand that they are accountable to all county residents.

CPD has been adding vital capacity to these multiracial organizing efforts through the Suffolk Opportunity, Security and Dignity Initiative. Last year, partner organizations conducted surveys and one-on-one interviews with hundreds of immigrants and people of color, including leaders of community organizations in Brentwood, Bayshore, Central Islip and Gordon Heights, amassing a wealth of information on household concerns, community priorities and perceptions of changing demographics.  In addition, the partner organizations brought together groups of their members for a series of cross-cultural conversations designed to build trust and understanding between communities.

Now, CPD, MRNY and NYCC are building on this foundation by organizing multi-racial, issue-focused action teams.  These teams of Suffolk County residents are fighting for a range of critical issues, from just and humane policing, to jobs that offer fair pay and respect and housing that is both high quality and affordable.  Over the next few months, these action teams will design and deploy their own strategies for shifting policy and practice in each of these areas.

Demographic shifts like these on Long Island are happening nationwide. CPD is therefore documenting the important work of the Opportunity Security and Dignity Initiative in order to identify lessons and ultimately support the collaborative efforts of other groups of immigrants and people of color seeking to alter the power dynamics in their communities.