Abolitionist Leadership Training Institute

Last week, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP) hosted a training in Washington D.C. The training was the First Annual Abolitionist Leadership Training Institute. It was held at Catholic University. States were asked to bring a team of 4 individuals to the training. The Tennessee delegation consisted of myself, Jenny (Knoxville), Amy (Memphis), and Clemmie (Nashville). We were all very excited to travel to Washington D.C. to further Tennessee’s abolitionist movement and to work with others from around the country. A total of 57 folks came from 30 states–a great turnout.

Early on the focus was on membership development, i.e., signing up new members for your organization. One lesson, albeit a fairly technical one, that I gleaned was to change our sign up sheets. This might sound mundane, but I am very excited about the shift because it will allow members to answer more questions and feel compelled to give all of their information. Next, we had a training on fundraising. Other than learning about how to raise funds for our organization, I was made aware of how many of the anti-death penalty organizations around the country subsist with meager funds. They do so much with so little. These organizations inspire me and affirm my conviction to seize this moment and take advantage of the position TCASK is now in.

For the three other Tennesseans, this was their first experience gathering with abolitionists at a national level. They were all so excited. Aside from the usefulness of the training, these events serve as a valuable time for networking. Lessons learned in Tennessee can be applicable to Pennsylvania. Lessons learned in South Carolina can be useful in Tennessee. Amy, who is a Presbyterian minister, saw this as a valuable opportunity to discourse with other ministers about inciting interest amongst clergy.

NCADP deserves significant praise for putting on this training. While the anti-death penalty movement is a state by state movement, there is a need for national cohesion–solidarity. The Abolitionist Leadership Training Institute has given states the tools they need to strengthen their respective movements and has also built the national relationships necessary to fully capitalize on the success of other states. For me, trainings or conferences on a national level serve as a reminder of how amazing the anti-death penalty is and how wonderful the people involved in it are.

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