How to Build a Civil Rights Movement for the Digital Age

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Media Outlet: Wired

Gideon Lewis-Kraus wrote a profile of Rashad Robinson in Wired's Obama issue:

On the fourth and final morning of last summer’s Democratic National Convention, Rashad Robinson rose early, selected a hat to match his suit, and traveled via Uber to a converted industrial WeWork installation in an otherwise barren and unprepossessing section of Northeast Philadelphia. Robinson runs Color of Change, the nation’s largest online civil rights organization, and he was taking an hour out of a grueling convention schedule (panels, parties) to tape an episode of a political reality show.
The program was called Party Girls, and it followed a handful of first-time voters, all of them millennial women of color, through the rigors of a crash course in electoral politics. Robinson had been called to appear in his usual role as an avatar of social justice’s future. “FDR had radio,” he told me late the night before, when I asked him why he’d agreed to the show when so much else was going on, “and JFK had TV. Obama had the Internet.” Now is the age of reality television and social media. The problem with that landscape, he continued, is that “the villain is the star. You get followers by being harsh.” Robinson wanted to demonstrate, especially to younger activists, that social-media strategy could be about more than simple, incendiary cultivation of rage and shame.

Author:

Gideon Lewis-Kraus is a New America fellow. He is a writer at large for the New York Times Magazine, a contributing writer at Wired, and a contributing editor at Harper's, and writes regularly for a variety of other publications.