Introducing our New Executive Director

The Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Karissa Lewis has been named Executive Director.  Karissa helped found the Bay Area chapter of the National Taxi Workers Union and has played a key role in establishing and anchoring black movement organizations in the Bay Area.  As a graduate of CTWO’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP), she has worked on issues ranging from environmental justice, police and state violence, as well as workers rights. Karissa started with CTWO six years ago and has held many positions with the organization, continuing to push the envelope, sharpen our work and lean into our organizational vision.
“There is no one whose life and work better embodies the mission, vision and spirit of CTWO, and the Board of Directors is proud to be able to announce Karissa’s well-deserved promotion to Executive Director.  We have full faith and confidence that her commitment, creativity and considerable skills will continue the essential contributions that CTWO makes in developing and supporting leadership and building capacity in the movement for social, economic and racial justice.”  said board member Louis Guida, on behalf of the entire CTWO Board of Directors.
Karissa has served as Interim Executive Director since May 2016. Under her leadership, she has increased funding, broadened our reach programmatically and designed two new programs. As an active participant in her community, Karissa is a member of Black Lives Matter Bay Area Chapter and the BlackOUT Collective.
“As a MAAP alumni I have always considered CTWO my organizing home. I am so humbled and excited to be chosen to lead CTWO in this moment. I am standing on the shoulders of the former directors and MAAP alumni, who have acted as mentors and comrades. I know this moment calls for us all to step into challenging conditions, it calls for us to be creative in our strategies and steadfast in our commitment to the world we are fighting to create. I am honored to continue to support this beautiful struggle, and to build cadre for the movement. I believe centering joy is as necessary as centering strategy and I am a commitment to carrying both into this leadership role at CTWO.”
The Center For Third World Organizing Board of Directors and Staff would like to extend our utmost gratitude to the community and stakeholders as we moved through this transition.  As we head towards our fourth decade of leadership development and movement building, we are excited to enter into a phase under Karissa’s leadership to ensure the next period of our work is both deeply impactful in these critical times, and connected to our mission and vision of the organization.

An Important and Exciting Announcement from CTWO

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am writing to let you know about an important and exciting personal transition. As of May 9th, I will be stepping down from my position of E.D. at the Center for Third World Organizing and stepping into the role of program officer at the VEATCH Program at Shelter Rock. I will continue to be active on the  CTWO Board of Directors and will be leading the effort to expand board membership and participation in service of CTWO’s mission.

We have promoted Karissa Lewis, MAAP graduate and Training Director to Interim Director. Karissa helped found the Bay Area chapter of the National Taxi Workers Union and has played a key role in establishing and anchoring black movement organizations in the Bay.  Karissa’s leadership during this period will serve as a bridge and lasting connector to black movement infrastructure and CTWO’s Bay area roots.

I have been honored to play a role in continuing CTWO’s 30+ year history of advancing racial justice and building movement infrastructure. I am looking forward to continuing to work with CTWO and friends to advance this mission and continue our legacy.


Faron McLurkin

Meet & Greet with CTWO and MAAPers in NYC on Saturday, April 18

Meet & Greet Mixer

You are invited to a meet & greet mixer in New York City on the evening of Saturday, April 18 during the weekend of our New York Community Action Training (NY CAT) where you can meet staff and friends of CTWO, MAAP alumni, and a few applicants of this year’s MAAP cohort.

Note: There is still time to register for the upcoming NY CAT on Friday, April 17 – Sunday, April 19. The training will be held at Retail Action Project at 140 West 31st Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001 (between 6th and 7th ave).

Bring friends, colleagues, and spread the word!

We are also launching a “Sponsor a MAAPer” campaign to support the 30th year of our flagship organizer training program, the Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP).

Don’t have the time to participate? We would still greatly appreciate your support. Your contributions will ensure that our 30th anniversary of MAAP will be a success and we continue to build a new generation of MAAP graduates in the fight for racial and economic justice!

Meet & Greet Mixer Details

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015

Time: 6-10pm

Location: The Thirsty Fan

Address: 254 W 31st, New York, NY 10001 (between 7th & 8th ave – closer to 8th ave)

Directions: Across from Penn Station near the corner of W 31st St and 8th Ave. (Directions via Google Maps)

All Night Happy Hour Specials

$6 Well drinks & wine; $5 Bud & Coors

$5-10 Appetizers

$10-16 Salads, Burgers, Sandwiches

$17-25 Entrees


MAAP 2015 Fundraising Update: 70% and climbing

With the support of community/social justice host organizations and foundations, CTWO has raised enough money to support over two-thirds of our expected MAAP cohort this year. In order for CTWO to support the full incoming MAAP class of 2015 this summer, we are kicking off a “Sponsor a MAAPer” campaign to raise the remaining 30% of our MAAP budget from grassroots sources — that means people like you! DONATE HERE

The Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program (MAAP) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Established in 1985, MAAP has been the flagship organizer training program for people of color, bringing motivated young activists together from all over the country to teach them the science and art of organizing communities around racial and economic justice issues. MAAP has trained more than 450 organizers, many of whom currently hold leadership positions within social justice organizations around the country.

CTWO Executive Director featured in Organizing Institute’s Video

“Come organize with us. You’ll get friends, you’ll get family, and you will live to be 100. Guaranteed.”

– Faron McLurkin, Executive Director, Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO)

Check out this video documenting workers organizing for higher wages and better working conditions across the country. The video was shown at the first annual National Organizers Workshop sponsored by the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute on March 6-7, 2015. Over 400 of the country’s best organizers from community organizations and labor unions gathered for this historic 2-day event. CTWO organizers and MAAP graduates received scholarships to attend the conference and our executive director, Faron McLurkin, facilitated a workshop “Organizing for Racial Justice” and was featured in the video shown at the conference. View pictures of our MAAP graduates and CTWO staff at the conference below and check out clips of Faron’s interview in the video at minute 2:29, 6:27, and 7:17.

Faron facilitating a workshop “Organizing for Racial Justice” to a packed house at the AFL-CIO National Organizers Workshop.


CTWO staff and MAAP alums attend the AFL-CIO National Organizers Workshop







Calling all MAAP Alums! Complete online survey by Friday, March 27

For years I’ve wished there was a comprehensive study of the impact of the Center for Third World Organizing’s Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program. And now Lynn Roberts is doing one! MAAP alums please take the survey – 45 minutes, you get a $20 bookstore certificate.  – Rinku Sen, President & Publisher, Race Forward,

Calling all MAAP Alums to complete a CUNY survey of the impact of MAAP on civic and political engagement by Friday, March 27!

Click here for the survey

Lynn Roberts, Assistant Professor, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and Roderick Watts, Professor in the Hunter College School of Social Work are conducting a research study titled “Predicting Future Civic and Political Engagement from the Experiences of High School and College Students.” The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between early life experiences, participation in activism training or a college course in community organizing, and sustained civic and political engagement. The results of this study may inform identity development in activists and provide new insights for the education and training of future activists and practitioners. You will have the opportunity to reflect on your experiences and commitments to civic and political engagement. This might provide valuable insights that will be helpful in your future life and career development.

For your participation in this study you will receive a $20 bookstore gift certificate that will be redeemable on-line after completion of the survey. If you have any questions or would prefer to complete the survey off-line, contact Dr. Lynn Roberts at (212) 396-7742 or

Help spread the word! Share this link with MAAP alums before Friday, March 27:


New chapter on immigration activism by our research director

Check out CTWO’s research director Dr. Karey Leung’s chapter on New Jersey immigration policies and activism in the newly published Contemporary Immigration in America: A State-by-State Encyclopedia. The chapter highlights recent legislation and activism over immigration policies at the local and state level as well as the historical linkages to immigrant worker activism in New Jersey.

The chapter highlights a historical example of multiracial farm worker organizing at Seabrook Farms near Bridgeton. In the 1930s, owner Charles F. Seabrook implemented Henry Ford-style industrial factory farming. This “pioneering” invention meant that farm workers were alienated from each other and their labor in assembly lines at the frozen vegetable processing plant. Despite such atomization, African American and Italian American workers, men and women, organized together in historic farm strikes in 1934.

During one of the strikes, 500 black and white workers staged a peaceful walk-out and picketed side by side at the 5,000-acre farm to counter a wage cut and to fight for a union. Their collective action was met with brutal police force as sheriff’s deputies armed with shot guns and tear gas bombs sought to break up the strike. The authorities with the support of the active Klu Klux Klan in the area were ultimately unsuccessful as the bitterly fought strike achieved a wage increase and a union for the workers. (This was one year before the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 protected the rights of workers to collectively bargain. However, the NLRA currently excludes certain sectors from coverage such as independent contractors, agricultural workers, and domestic workers.) However, a subsequent strike lead to the withdrawal of union recognition. 

1934 Press Photo Seabrook Farms Strike Bridgeton NJ Dave Horuvitz   eBay

Seabrook Farms Strike in Bridgeton, NJ

In the next decades, Seabrook implemented the practice of hiring dispossessed and displaced ethnic minorities and prisoners of war, housing them in ethnically segregated barracks to break up potential worker organizing efforts. In an attempt to keep workers from organizing for better wages and working conditions, Seabrook arranged for contracted labor to relocate to the farm camp to work grueling 12-hour days for a few cents an hour with only a day off every two weeks.

Seabrook’s answer to the labor-shortage at his farm was to contract with the government for cheap labor—workers included Japanese American and Japanese Peruvian internment camp evacuees. About 3,000 Japanese American and Japanese Peruvian internment camp survivors resettled in Bridgeton and Vineland resulting in Cumberland County having the largest concentration of Japanese Americans in the country at the time.

For an in-depth perspective on the life at Seabrook, check out Seiichi Higashide’s book, Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps in which he considers living conditions at Seabrook as worse than what he experienced at the Crystal City internment camp. In place of barbed wire, farm laborers at Seabrook lived and worked behind fenced-in barracks, tied to the farm camp through the company owned stores similar to conditions of African American sharecroppers after the Civil War.

Japanese American Workers at Seabrook Farms

Japanese American and Japanese Peruvian Workers at Seabrook Farms

Other contracted labor groups include German and Italian prisoners of war; displaced Estonian refugees escaping Soviet occupation; West Indian, Jamaican, and Puerto Rican laborers; and Mexican guest workers through the Bracero Program who all worked at the farm labor camp throughout the following decades.

From the 1950s to the present day, the growth of migrant farm workers from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central and South American countries have turned southern New Jersey farming communities into majority-minority districts of mostly low-income communities of color where Latinos, African Americans, and Asian Americans comprise the majority of the population. Today, such communities have formed farm worker support committees such as El Comité de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agrícolas (CATA) to support migrant workers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.


El Comité de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agrícolas

The tradition of worker organizing across race, ethnicity, occupational, and immigration status continues to this day as workers build alliances across sectors that include day laborers, domestic, guest, tipped (restaurant), farm, service sector, taxi, and formerly incarcerated workers. 

Rinku Sen Interviews Jeff Chang on his latest book

Check out Rinku Sen’s interview with Jeff Chang on his latest book Who We Be: The Colorization of America. These two powerhouses of the racial justice movement first met as MAAP apprentices. Rinku Sen then became the Co-Director of CTWO in the 1990s and is currently the President and Executive Director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation and the Publisher of the award-winning news site Colorlines. Jeff Chang currently serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. His first book Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation won the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award, among many other honors.

SFTWA Shut Down San Francisco International Airport in Protest

CTWO provided organizational support to the San Francisco Taxi Workers’ Alliance (SFTWA) in coordinating a direct action to shut down San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to protest unfair advantage given to private car service companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar which can bypass airport gate fees to pick up and drop off passengers curbside. Hundreds of taxi workers circled the arrival level at SFO on the night of November 17 refusing to pick up passengers and blocking traffic. SFTWA vowed to continue the disruption at SFO as long as private car service companies are given an unfair advantage in serving the airport. See NBC news video coverage

CTWO helps organize the NTWA’s Newest Local in San Francisco

CTWO organizers worked alongside San Francisco taxi workers to established the National Taxi Workers Alliance’s newest local, the San Francisco Taxi Workers Alliance (SFTWA). CTWO helped to mobilize SF’s taxi workers in this crucial time when an international campaign is underway to fight against companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, which are threatening public safety and lowering public transportation standards.

CTWO partners with GPS coalition on education justice in Pittsburgh

CTWO provided movement organizational support through MAAP and consultation to the Great Public Schools (GPS) coalition in organizing communities of color to prevent the resegregation of the Pittsburgh Public School District by blocking the expansion of a privately run charter school. The proposed school would serve far fewer low-income students of color, students with disabilities, and those who are English Language Learners than other public schools in the district.