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Standing Up For Democracy: How Activists Are Fighting Injustice in America Today

Bill Moyers talks with activists about an initiative to open Americans' eyes about income inequality.

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And that we have to name that racial justice would benefit us all. And we have to go after it and make it happen. And lastly, we're part of a community of people that are in this together. And as we win that idea battle, which I think we will win, that's when our victories on the issues will follow.

BILL MOYERS: You know, I have a corporate underwriter. My sole corporate underwriter for 25 years. Mutual of America. They've been terrific to us. How do people distinguish between corporations that are trying to be good citizens and those you have on your hit list?

GEORGE GOEHL: I think there's a set of things that corporations can do that will make them clearly good citizens. Good, corporate citizens in this country. And so I do think it is, like, making sure they treat workers with dignity. And that these are jobs with justice and people get paid.

That they actually are very conscious about their environmental impact in this country. That they pay their fair share of taxes. And that they are thoughtful to how they contribute to the community that they work in. They-- we have lots of corporations in this country that do good stuff. The 40 that we'll be visiting this spring are ones that clearly failed on all those fronts.

BILL MOYERS: So how do people find out about what you're doing?

GEORGE GOEHL: There's a couple ways. There's a website called "The 99 Spring." And that's where people can learn how do I go to one of these trainings to really learn about how people are thinking differently about the economy. And also how do I learn about nonviolent, direct action and how to do that, and how to engage in that. And out of those trainings, in many cases, people will then go do demonstrations.

And then secondly, the build towards the shareholder meetings, there's a website called And people can go on there and learn: how can I engage in some of these 40 corporate campaigns focused on 40 corporations. All will have demonstrations at the shareholder meetings. How can I plug in and be a part of this fight to really restructure our relationship with the corporate sector?

BILL MOYERS: You've been doing this for a long time. Why did you become an organizer?

GEORGE GOEHL: I'll give you the short version. But I had got in a little bit of trouble, and ended up at a soup kitchen. And didn't expect to be there. Was a little surprised to be there. And went and ate. And when I was done, I felt a little uncomfortable about being there. So I asked if I could wash some dishes. And one thing led to another. And I actually got my act together and my life together at that soup kitchen. And thank goodness, three years later, I realized soup kitchens weren't enough for me. And I had to become an organizer.

BILL MOYERS: What makes a good organizer?

GEORGE GOEHL: I do think eternal optimism. I think a sense that we are, you know, able to, like, create change and that we can engage people. But I think it's also a great organizer starts where people are at, and actually understands what people are feeling and what they are needing. And figures out how to engage them in the development of a strategy and a plan to create change. But I think probably even more in, than anything, I mean, the job of an organizer I really think is often two things. It's to get people to do things they didn't know they wanted to do when they met you. And then secondly, get them to do that with a lot of other people.

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