“The reality is these protests are becoming very mainstream; these are not fringe events,” said Daniel Gillion, a University of Pennsylvania professor who studies how activism shifts public policy.
Momentum is a nonprofit for nonprofits. The group calls itself a community, an incubator of movements, a Hogwarts for organizers. It was founded by alumni of protest movements like United We Dream, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the fossil fuel divestment campaigns—young people who’ve come of age in a time of political crisis.
The group avoids saying any of the other strategies are wrong, just that they are different theories. “We’re a community of practice, not a church,” noted Seth Woody, Sunrise’s Iowa director and a former member of the Momentum core team, which is sort of like the group’s board of directors. The harshest critique of alternative tactics I heard was that they want to go beyond growing their email lists, and instead create the triggering events that cause the public to come to them, and the politicians to react. In other words, rather than exclusively doing things in reaction to the news, the groups involved with Momentum want to make news.
In just five years, momentum has trained more than 1,500 young activists in at least 30 states who’ve gone on to be at the center of protests that have ricocheted throughout the nation.