Other Group

Black Leaders Organizing for Communities

Location:

Milwaukee, WI

Type:

Advocacy campaign

Executive Director:

Angela Lang

Black Leaders Organizing for Communities (BLOC), is an advocacy and campaigning organization focused on promoting far-left policies in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area. The organization is a project of Tides Advocacy, the advocacy arm of the left leaning Tides Foundation. The organization was formed in response to President Donald Trump’s narrow victory in Wisconsin during the 2016 presidential election, a result that many on the left blamed on low turnout among African-American voters in Milwaukee. [1]

The organization endorses far-left candidates in statewide and local elections, and manages three advocacy campaigns: Freedom to Thrive, St. Joe Accountability Coalition, and Liberate MKE. [2]

Background

BLOC was founded in November of 2017 by Angela Lang, a long-time community and labor organizer who had previously worked in Milwaukee for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Fight for $15 campaign and worked as Political Director with For Our Future Wisconsin. [3]

According to Lang, the organization grew out of Democratic “finger pointing” at black voters in Wisconsin, particularly Milwaukee, who were being blamed for delivering the state to Trump by voting in lower numbers than they had in 2012. Lang stated she felt that black voters were taken for granted and that there was a need for an organization to conduct left-leaning voter contact on a year-round basis and not just during election season. [4]

Activity

Black Leaders Organizing for Communities has adopted an expansive policy agenda for Milwaukee focusing on a wide array of left-leaning policies. Among the policy positions published by BLOC include far-reaching gun control and raising the legal age for gun ownership to 21, police department reforms, rent control, passage of environmentalist policies, affirmative action in healthcare and transit, “Medicare for All” government-run healthcare, and reinstituting a labor union forced-dues law. [5]

BLOC also manages three advocacy campaigns under different names. Freedom to Thrive works to “end the punishment-based criminal and immigration system,” and demands reparations paid to incarcerated people. The St. Joe’s Accountability Project is a coalition of groups that acts as a corporate pressure campaign against Milwaukee’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and its parent company Ascension Health. LiberateMKE is a civic engagement campaign designed to talk to residents about “liberating” Milwaukee by defunding the Milwaukee Police Department. [6]

BLOC was active in endorsing left-leaning candidates in the 2020 spring elections in Wisconsin, this included making endorsements in several local government and judicial elections in Milwaukee, as well as endorsing liberal-aligned Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky. [7]

Funding

BLOC is a project of Tides Advocacy, the advocacy arm of the left-leaning San Francisco-based Tides Foundation. Tides acts as the fiscal sponsor of BLOC meaning that it handles administrative duties and collects donations for the organization from other left-leaning funders in addition to the funding provided by Tides. [8]

While the format of BLOC as a project of Tides Advocacy makes details of its funding vague BLOC Executive Director Angela Lang has stated that the organization has a $3 million annual budget that is funded by Tides as well as groups including Center for Popular Democracy, For Our Future, and the Movement Voter Project. BLOC plans to use its funding to hire 70 additional canvassers in the Milwaukee area during the 2020 campaign season and expects to have a total of 100 paid canvassers for the election. [9]

References

  1. Woods, Sam. “Milwaukee’s Black Leaders Organize to Build Civic Engagement”. U.S. News & World Report. February 1, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2020-02-01/milwaukees-black-leaders-organize-to-build-civic-engagement ^
  2. “Campaigns” Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. Accessed April 21, 2020.  https://www.blocbybloc.org/campaigns-3 ^
  3. “Staff” Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. Accessed April 21, 2020. https://www.blocbybloc.org/staff-4 ^
  4. Woods, Sam. “Milwaukee’s Black Leaders Organize to Build Civic Engagement”. U.S. News & World Report. February 1, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2020-02-01/milwaukees-black-leaders-organize-to-build-civic-engagement ^
  5. “The BLOC Agenda” Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. Accessed April 21, 2020. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59b15de8d7bdcec266038669/t/5df3fb64b1e93317fdcf42ce/1576270701146/BLOC+Agenda-12%3A07%3A2019.pdf  ^
  6. “Campaigns” Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. Accessed April 21, 2020.  https://www.blocbybloc.org/campaigns-3 ^
  7. “Spring 2020 Endorsements” Black Leaders Organizing for Communities. Accessed April 21, 2020.  https://www.blocbybloc.org/spring2020 ^
  8. Woods, Sam. “Milwaukee’s Black Leaders Organize to Build Civic Engagement”. U.S. News & World Report. February 1, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2020-02-01/milwaukees-black-leaders-organize-to-build-civic-engagement ^
  9. Woods, Sam. “Milwaukee’s Black Leaders Organize to Build Civic Engagement”. U.S. News & World Report. February 1, 2020. Accessed April 22, 2020. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/wisconsin/articles/2020-02-01/milwaukees-black-leaders-organize-to-build-civic-engagement ^
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Black Leaders Organizing for Communities


Milwaukee, WI