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BK Blog Post
Posted by Wade Rathke.
Wade Rathke is the founder of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) – a nationwide activist network engaged in community organizing.
Pittsburgh When people who care about something get together in an organization that they also care about, stand back and admire the creativity that starts to blossom.
Of course there’s always ACORN swag which is almost a cottage industry in itself. There can’t be an ACORN convention without a convention t-shirt. I’m pretty sure that’s a rule. I have a whole shelf of them at home along with a couple in my bag with me now. I can remember a buzz at the back of the room, when I finally managed to get an ACORN “uniform” of sorts introduced to the organizers. I drink my own Kool-Aid though and I’m sitting here now with an ACORN short sleeve shirt on and wore my ACORN button-down long sleeve shirt in Montreal and a hundred other places. I will put an ACORN baseball cap on my head when I go to the ACORN “family” picnic at Homestead Park, and there’s an ACORN Canada handkerchief in my back pocket. There are always ACORN buttons and ACORN flags flying everywhere around the world where we work. I ride for the brand.
But, it’s not just me, because the members get even more creative. A member from Toronto brought me a bag of cookies she thought would be a great fundraiser for ACORN everywhere and at Fair Grinds Coffeehouses in New Orleans. In the bag were beautifully made gingerbread cookies with colorful icing. When you lined the cookies out on the table one by one, each one had a letter on it ,and they spelled www.acorncanada.org. What a treat!
Another member from British Columbia, Vern, regularly produces and designs his own notion of ACORN slogans on t-shirts and the occasional sweatshirt. The most famous, and almost a collector’s item, is one we call the “tiger” t-shirt. The slogan on the shirt is that “ACORN is the People’s Tiger” and the design has an ACORN symbol in gold on the front and a bit of the tiger. I love that shirt!
A member from Toronto named Heidi was called up to the podium in Montreal because she had developed an ACORN rap. From where I stood in the back it was hard for me to catch all of the words, so I’ll have to track down the lyrics verse by verse as soon as I can, but I know it started with ACORN and ended with ACORN, and other phrases included, “No back down,” and “Take a stand” and “Stop the greedy,” so however they were strung together it sounds like she was on track and the members were on their feet, clapping, finger popping, and hollering right until the end of her rap.
Another member from Ottawa had developed his own chant, which was also readily adopted on the march, and could become a standard with a little work:
Stop the war on the poor
Make the rich pay
We’re hungry! We’re angry!
And, we won’t go away!
Other members sometimes changed the last line on subsequent verses to “And, ACORN won’t go away,” and I even heard one chanting “We’re ACORN every day!” as the last line. There’s always the classic, “A-C-O-R-N,” and “People want to know, who we are, so we tell them, we’re ACORN, mighty, mighty ACORN.” In Montreal, we heard some of these chants in French as well, and of course we all learned “Sol, Sol, Solidarite!”
When we all get together in groups large and small, we know the story: “The People United Will Never be Defeated.”