Skip to main content
Expand AU Menu

For the Media

100 Years of Community Organizing: From Alinsky to Obama

American University explores how Obama utilized and reinvigorated and brought attention to a new generation of organizers

Arnie Graff, senior organizer, national staff, Industrial Areas Foundation
Bruna Genovese, associate organizer, V.O.I.C.E (Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement)
Sanford  D. Horwitt, author of Let Them Call Me Rebel: Saul Alinsky, His Life and Legacy
Coleman Milling, senior organizer, WIN (Washington Interfaith Network)
Patrick Griffin (moderator); academic director for American University’s Public
Affairs and Advocacy Institute, assistant to the president for legislative affairs         
during the Clinton Administration

WHAT: 100 Years of Community Organizing: From Alinsky to Obama and Beyond—a discussion focusing on community organizing during the last 100 years  

WHEN:  Wednesday, November 4, 2009; noon – 1:45 p.m.

WHERE:  American University, Kay Spiritual Life Center Lounge, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016

Interested media contact Maralee Csellar, American University’s Communications Office, at 202-885-5952 or

WASHINGTON, DC (November 2, 2009) – Saul Alinsky, often called the father of community organizing, began his legacy in the South Side of Chicago, a place not unfamiliar to Barack Obama, who learned and applied Alinsky’s ideas to his own work in Chicago in the 1980s. One year following the election of Obama, American University will analyze how Obama utilized, reinvigorated and brought national attention again to the importance and influence of Alinsky’s community organization and activism.

The discussion, 100 Years of Community Organizing: From Alinsky to Obama and Beyond, will be held from noon–1:45 p.m. in American University’s Kay Spiritual Life Center lounge.

At 4:30 p.m., a panel of experts will build upon the earlier discuss and focus on career paths a new generation of organizers—college students—should consider.  “Careers in Community Organizing: From Alinsky to Obama” will be held at the university’s Washington College of Law. The daylong focus on community organizing will conclude with the screening of the film The Democratic Promise: Saul Alinsky and His Legacy, narrated by Alec Baldwin. The film will be shown at 8 p.m. in the Mary Graydon Center room 200.  

The series of events is co-sponsored by American University’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Washington College of Law. 

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.