Action NC helping Durham residents find their voice

By Kendra McNair-Worley
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

A recent shooting outside of an unlicensed club or “liquor house” on Delano Street in East Durham injured eight people and totally shocked the surrounding community. Now, residents plan to come together to find solutions to reduce crime.

This goal will be made a little bit easier with the help of Action NC. Members hope they can address their concerns about conditions more effectively by working as a group rather than as individuals.

Durham residents share their experiences at Action NC’s recent “Ban the Box” meeting. Ban the Box is a national campaign to push employers to remove questions about whether or not applicants have been convicted of a crime from initial job applications. (Photos courtesy of Action NC.)

The residents are organizing with Action NC to pressure the city for more police protection. Residents shared their stories with Neighborhood Improvement Services, PAC-1, Durham Crime Watchers and Action NC.

Action NC is a grassroots community organization with offices in Charlotte and Durham that empowers low to moderate-income communities to take action and win victories on issues of concern to their members, according to their website.

Their priorities include: better housing conditions for tenants, living wages for low-wage workers, affordable health care, more investment in communities from banks and governments, comprehensive immigration reform, and better public schools.

“Our mission is to organize low- to moderate-income families in order to seek change in the community,” Hector Vaca, lead organizer in Charlotte said.

Action NC was launched in January 2010 as a non-profit organization, by Pat McCoy, the executive director.  Durham’s office opened in July 2010 and is located at 115 Market Street suite 211.

It is funded through membership dues, grassroots fundraising activities and individual contributions. Members pay $36 annually. “A member can get started with a monthly payment of only $3,” said Gloria De Los Santos, the Durham director.

Action NC specializes in immigration reform, one of the organization’s top three priorities. They are empowering people in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform while also fighting hard to end the 287(g) program in North Carolina.

Locally, it also organizes members to work for tenant rights and education reform. They are taking on slum landlords and forcing them to make repairs and treat renter’s rights as well as fighting for quality public schools that give parents a voice and give children a good, complete education, according to their website.

Durham residents gather recently for an Action NC meeting.

The group has about 250 members in Charlotte and 50 and counting in the Durham area.

Action NC has worked on several campaigns in Northeast Central, South and West Durham. “Don’t Dump on Durham” came about when outsiders were dumping enormous amounts of trash in Northeast Central Durham. Their latest campaign is entitled “Ban the Box,” which is designed to reduce employment discrimination based on prior convictions.

“We would love to expand- our goals are to address the issues and help people get the word out,” said De Los Santos.  “[We try] to teach individuals to become leaders and talk to the public and organize their communities.”

Action NC believes that social change comes from the bottom up. Members are black, white, and Latino families who take ownership of their issues, by organizing their own communities to take action and are active in running the organization, not just contributors or newsletter readers.

“We would like to be known as the people’s organization- we are there for the fight,” said De Los Santos.

For more information visit:!/pages/Action-NC/111216038904721