Recently, I participated in my fifteenth Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Marade and celebration. I love this Denver tradition because it provides a space for tens of thousands of people to gather and pay tribute to an incredible leader and movement that continues to shape our lives today. I’m always amazed by the sheer number of people marching down Colfax from City Park to the state Capitol, as we all collectively dream of a better world.
I vividly remember the first time I participated in the Marade, as a teenager, and the feeling of being part of something so much bigger than myself. This year, as I marched with my wife, kids, friends, and family, I couldn’t help but imagine the power my fellow marchers and I would have, if we were all marching with the same mission and goal in mind. To be sure, Dr. King and countless other civil rights leaders harnessed the power of people to march with clear, bold demands, and, as a direct result of their organizing, ultimately won significant victories in line with their movement’s goals. However, those marches of the Civil Rights Movement were distinctly different, and more effective, than our current day Marades and Women’s Marches because they were driven by one, key, unifying concept: membership. Marchers in that movement were organized by powerful, member-led organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee that unified the demands of their bases into a significant force for change.
For over 20 years, Center for Health Progress has been a membership organization because we’ve always known that our collective power is greater than the sum of its parts. Over this time, our members have been critical financial supporters, as well as invaluable advisors and allies of our strategy, but we’ve lacked a clear base-building strategy that unites our membership in a movement toward collective goals.
In 2020, we are excited to strengthen and build out our membership program in a way that harnesses the collective power of the individuals that make up our base. To do this, we are making a few changes to our membership program that prioritize people power. Prior to this year, organizations who paid dues were considered members of Center for Health Progress—as were all of their staff. This gave organizations an out-sized influence and centered them in our membership program, and it’s important that we correct that. Starting this year, all of our memberships will be individual memberships, and members will have an increasingly important role in shaping our direction and campaigns. Members will also receive a variety of benefits that build health equity leadership and increase access to resources.
Organizations who want to support our work remain critical to furthering our mission and will now contribute as “partners.” Partners will receive benefits ranging from educational resources to marketing opportunities. If you’re a part of an organization who was previously a member of Center for Health Progress, we hope your organization will renew as a partner, and that you’ll consider joining as a member!
Through these changes, we’ll continue to center the needs and priorities of our individual members—most especially those with lived experiences of health inequities—as we build out our campaigns. We’ll host three annual meetings this year, one each in Denver, Fort Morgan, and Pueblo, and bring our grassroots members together for the first time in a membership assembly to determine the direction of our next strategic plan. And, we’re excited to strengthen our relationships with all our members and partners, new and old. Our 2020 membership drive runs through the month of February. Whether you’ve been a part of our organization for a long time or are just getting to know us, consider becoming a member of Center for Health Progress and joining the movement!
Photo Credit: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission