Saul Alinsky would have done more than talk about Oprah

As just about everyone in Chicago knows by now, Oprah Winfrey's show opener this season is causing blocks of prime shopping real estate on N. Michigan Ave. to be closed for two-and-a-half days. 

Commentary from the blogosphere has ranged from discussions of Oprah's ego-too big, according to several Chicago Now bloggers-to Mike Doyle telling us how to navigate the closure on public transportation. 

Here's another thought.

This year marks 100 years since the birth of fabled community organizer Saul Alinsky

While it's not clear exactly what he would have done with the opportunity presented by Oprah's closure of Michigan Ave., it's an almost sure bet that he and the people with whom he was working would have done something. 

I just finished reading Rules for Radicals, Alinsky's "pragmatic primer for realistic radicals." 

The book lays out his philosophy of self-interested and non-ideological organizing in which the goal is to gain small victories and increase the community's power.

I emerged from the reading with both a better understanding of his influence on nearly every community organizer in the city since coming from and his love of theater.

Alinsky writes in the beginning of the book about how lawyers did not sufficiently capitalize on the chance presented by Judge Julius Hoffman during the trial of the Chicago Seven.

Odds are that he would not have missed this one.


The only question would be what injustice he would highlight.  

What do you think Saul Alinsky would do today?   Would you have participated?  Jeered? Ignored him? 


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  • Thanks for this thoughtful post. It challenges me to think more about those small victories that Alinksy spoke of and how inspiring and important they are. I'll be picking up his book. Thanks again.

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