Black Citizenship in Action


The Black Citizenship in Action training is a signature partnership with 12 Black-led organizations across the country and our national partners, Black Progressive Action Coalition (BPAC) and BlackPAC.

Anti-Black racism is a principal threat to our full participation in our democracy, freedom, and justice. Anti-Black racism, at both the structural and institutional levels, is the means by which America maintains white privilege, unearned economic gains, and the artificial economic, social, and political advantages enjoyed by white people.

When in session, The Equity Alliance, along with local partners in states across the country, from Michigan to California and from Louisiana to Ohio, hold local trainings that deepen our community’s shared understanding of our past and present, our rights as citizens, sharpen our analysis of the political landscape in which we are operating, and collectively develop winning strategies to demand a country that values our Black lives and strives toward justice and equality.

historical context

The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the United States on January 1, 1863, but it was not until June 19, 1865 (Juneteenth), two and a half years later, that word reached Galveston, Texas that slavery had been abolished. While this country has come a long way since June 1865, the work to ensure that Black people can exercise our full rights as citizens to shape this democracy to its fullest potential still remains.

The Black Citizenship in Action training is designed to mirror the Citizenship Schools founded during the Civil Rights Movement by Septima Clark and offered between 1957 – 1970. These independent schools were established throughout the Deep South but started in the State of Tennessee at the Highlander Folk School to serve two purposes: 1) to give participants the skills to return to their communities and motivate others and 2) to teach them literacy and Constitutional understanding so that they could qualify to vote. The Equity Alliance will continue the great legacy and model of Ms. Clark’s Citizenship Schools in offering the Black Citizenship in Action trainings.

Black voters in Tennessee have been disenfranchised through systemic means. For example, six months after The Equity Alliance led the Tennessee Black Voter Project in an effort to register 91,000 black and brown Tennesseans in 2018, Secretary of State Tre Hargett proposed legislation that would enforce the country’s most aggressive civil and criminal penalties on third-party organizations that submit deficient registration forms during large-scale registration drives. The Equity Alliance filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. On September 12, 2019, a federal judge ruled and our case and blocked the law from going into effect. We declared victory.


Representation matters, and it is important for Black voters to see themselves in the democratic process through the appointed, civic, and elected leaders in our community. As a bloc, black voters hold the key to better representation and wide-scale change. The Equity Alliance will advocate for Civic Leadership by encouraging people of color to take leadership roles in shaping policy on the local, state and national level.

Through intensive 4-6 week learning workshops, our Black Citizenship in Action training will develop the next generation of Black civic leaders. We will work to ensure that Black people can exercise our full rights as citizens, and can shape our democracy to its fullest potential.


Through this training, we will:
● Deepen our collective stake in ending anti-Black and structural racism;
● Build stronger relationships to each other and our communities through our shared journey and stake around securing/protecting Black citizenship;
● Strengthen our ability to affect change and analyze any and all decisions for us and about us
through the lens of racial justice and Black power; and
● Create the conditions for our communities to be more effective at winning substantive victories around a racial and economic justice platforms.Deepen our collective stake in ending anti-Black and structural racism;

topics covered in our strategy sessions

TEA has developed the curriculum in conjunction with national partners (BlackPAC) as well as local partners. The curriculum builds on the foundational principles of civic engagement and power-building models and uses a participatory learning model.

Black Citizenship in Action is based on a popular education approach. Popular education is an approach to community education that allows for collective agenda setting and flexibility, and to carefully and respectfully design activities that bring in all voices and level the power in the room. Social movements have used popular education often.

  • Module 1: Introduction / Our Struggle for Freedom
  • Module 2: Human Rights, Civil Rights, and Citizenship (Civil Society)
  • Module 3: Politics, Institutions, and Policy (Democracy and Power Structures)
  • Module 4: The State (Shared Analysis of What’s at Stake in our States and Beyond)
  • Module 5: Bridging the Past and Our Desired Future
  • Module 6: Movement Building
  • Module 7: Structural Changes (Part 1) – Where Do We Go From Here and Tools
  • Module 8: Structural Changes (Part 2) – Where Do We Go From Here and Tools
  • Module 9: Wrap-Up


  • Ages 18 or older
  • Black or African-American community member (or of the African Diaspora)
  • Commit to attend 4-6 weeks of BCiA sessions