For many of us, 2016 was a turning point. More and more Pennsylvanians saw that the system was broken — and that it was up to us to fix it. Local groups formed in Lancaster, Reading and Harrisburg to stand firm against leaders who tried to divide us by the color of our skin, by our immigration status, by the way that we worship. Community members in places like Scranton and the Lehigh Valley launched efforts to take on the billionaire class and root out the greed that starves our communities of the resources we need to ensure that everyone has a good paying job, a safe place to call home, and good public schools in their neighborhoods.
From the start, our local chapters understood that making big change requires electing new leaders, who stand up and fight for our communities. In 2017 and 2018, we backed local candidates like Jess King and Rev. Dr. Greg Edwards — who were unafraid to take on the political establishment and committed to organizing their local communities.
As we built power on the local level, we recognized that the issues we faced in Lancaster weren’t so different from what folks saw in Harrisburg, Allentown, or Reading. So in 2019, our local chapters came together to form Pennsylvania Stands Up as a new, statewide organization, committed to building the power of working people across race and place.
2020 tested the power of our new statewide organizing model, launching People’s Bailout campaigns in the face of the pandemic, organizing dozens of events to stand up for Black lives, and coordinating efforts around the state to protect our democracy. In the years following, our members and volunteers had more than 700,000 conversations with voters to defeat Donald Trump and to elect statewide and down-ballot champions like Josh Shapiro, John Fetterman, Jess Royer, Izzy Smith Wade-El, Zach Cole-Borghi, Bridget Malloy Kosierowski, and hundreds of Democratic Precinct Committee People.
Today, PA Stands Up and our local chapters carry this history forward by organizing around issues such as housing, democracy, reimagining public safety, and exposing corrupt billionaires that attempt to strip us of our rights. Our chapters continue the work of electing local champions and putting leaders into local, statewide, and federal offices who we can hold accountable to serving our communities. At the center of it all, we remain committed to building the leadership of working class people of all races, across the commonwealth.