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Post-Election America—What’s Next for Social Justice?

"The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 In the end, the 2012 campaign came down to one question: Are we in this alone or in this together?

On November 6, America answered. We voted for the social contract that unites us as a people and against an Ayn Rand dystopia modeled on "the virtue of selfishness."

We the people voted for public education, immigration reform, full equality for gay citizens, economic justice for poor and working families, and a woman’s right to equal pay for equal work. We the people overcame a mass attempt to suppress our voice and our vote, and now the work of building a more just society begins.

If there’s one thing we've learned in the past four years, our elected officials can't bring about social change on their own. Social change takes grassroots action, the kind of action that helped elect pro-public education candidates who share our vision of an inclusive America.

During his first campaign for president, Barack Obama told the story of a meeting between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and renowned labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, in which Randolph asked the President for economic opportunity for workers and poor Americans. According to the story, Roosevelt told Randolph, "I agree—now make me do it."

It’s up to us to work with our elected officials, and to pressure them when necessary, to do the right thing. We have the power to bend the universal arc towards justice—but only if we treat this election as a beginning, not an end.

Top 10 List for Social Action

Congratulate the president, then roll up your sleeves and choose one action to help advance the cause of social justice in your community:

  1. Exchange information and ideas with a colleague about a pressing social justice issue in your community.
  2. Communicate with your elected representative in Congress or the state legislature via email or letter.
  3. Join a local civil rights organization. If you already belong to one, raise a social justice issue that affects the children in your community.
  4. If you’re a member of a church, temple, mosque, or other faith-based community, join the social justice ministry.
  5. Volunteer your expertise at a neighborhood school. Convince a friend, family member, or neighbor to volunteer as well.
  6. Take the NEA Bullyfree Schools pledge.
  7. Sign up for NEA’s EdVotes email updates at
  8. Train for today's education environment with free NEA programs, including bullying prevention, ELL instruction for general educators, and culturally competent instruction.
  9. Call a social justice or political organization and volunteer now to start or assist with a voter education/protection campaign well in advance of the 2014 elections.
  10. Consider running for your school board or other local office.