We see to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families and communities.
LOS ANGELES, CA – EIN 463064675 dignityandpowernow.org
Dignity and Power Now (DPN) is a Los Angeles based grassroots organization founded in 2012 that fights for the dignity and power of all incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Our mission is to build a Black and Brown led abolitionist movement rooted in community power towards the goal of achieving transformative justice and healing justice for all incarcerated people, their families, and communities.
Grounded in the principles of abolition, healing justice, and transformative justice, we have multiple programs centered around activism, health and wellness, and leadership building, including a coalition to end sheriff violence, a coalition to stop jail construction, an arts and wellness collective, a rapid response team of healers, a leadership institute for high school aged youth affected by incarceration, a leadership institute for people coming home from prison, a reentry program inside Soledad State Prison, and an influential media department. Immediate campaign focuses include establishing comprehensive and effective civilian oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and allocating the money from LA County’s 3.5 billion dollar jail plan into mental health diversion programs and community resources. Dignity and Power Now is founded and chaired by Black Lives Matter Cofounder Patrisse Khan-Cullors.
Cullors recalls being forced from her home at sixteen when she revealed her queer identity to her parents. She was involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses as a child, but later grew disillusioned with the church. She developed an interest in the Nigerian religious tradition of Ifá, incorporating its rituals into political protest events. She told an interviewer in 2015 that "seeking spirituality had a lot to do with trying to seek understanding about my conditions—how these conditions shape me in my everyday life and how I understand them as part of a larger fight, a fight for my life." She later earned a degree in religion and philosophy from UCLA. She also received an MFA from USC.
Cullors credits social media being instrumental in revealing violence against African Americans, saying: "On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death ... It's literally saying, 'Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the more safe it will be."
Cullors defines herself as an prison, police and "militarization" abolitionist, a position she says is inspired by "a legacy of black-led anti-colonial struggle in the United States and throughout the Americas". She also favors reparations for what she describes as "the historical pains and damage caused by European settler colonialism", in various forms, such "financial restitution, land redistribution, political self-determination, culturally relevant education programs, language recuperation, and the right to return (or repatriation)".
She cites the activist and formerly incarcerated Weather Underground member Eric Mann, as her mentor during her early activist years at the Bus Riders Union of Los Angeles. She draws on various ideological inspirations. One is black feminists such as Audre Lorde and her "Black, queer, feminist lens", as well as bell hooks : both "helped [her] understand [her] identity". She cites Angela Davis for her "political theories and reflections on anticapitalist movements around the world", her work towards "a broader antiracist and antiwar movement", and her fight against white supremacy in the US. Frantz Fanon is another inspiration, his "work on colonial violence in Algeria and across the Third World [making] timely connections" for the understanding of the context in which Black people live across the world. She also cites Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, as "provid[ing] a new understanding around what our economies could look like".
Also known as public artist and curator, her website (see External Links section) states that she relies on art to reflect social spaces in ways that words fall flat. A journalist who interviewed her for Rolling Stone wrote that Cullors turns to art "as a complimentary form of resistance-building." 
Asked whether she believed in violence as a method of protest, she has said that she believes in "direct action, but nonviolent direct action", and that this was also the belief of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty named her among the fifty heroes "leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people".
In 2014 Cullors produced the theatrical piece POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, which debuted at Highways Performance Space. She has contributed articles about the movement to the LA Progressive, including an article from December 2015 titled "The Future of Black Life"  which pushed the idea that activists could no longer wait for the State to take action, and called her followers into action by encouraging them to begin building the world that they want to see. Her book, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir was published in January 2018.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90007-4316 | Tax-exempt since July 2014
Classification (NTEE) Public Foundations (Philanthropy, Voluntarism and Grantmaking Foundations)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.
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