Color of Change

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Color of Change
Color of Change logo.png
Founded 2005
Founder James Rucker, Van Jones
Type 501(c)(4)
Focus Civil Rights, Politics, Mass media
Method Lobbying, Public Education, Petitions
Key people
Rashad Robinson
Slogan Changing the color of democracy

Color of Change is an organization that aims to strengthen the political voice of black America. It was formed after the events of Hurricane Katrina, a powerful storm that devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast. Color of Change is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation that engages in lobbying and public education. It is registered as a Political Action Committee (PAC) with the Federal Elections Commission. Rashad Robinson serves as its Executive Director.

In 2015, ColorOfChange was ranked 6th on Fast Company's list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.[1]


Color of Change was co-founded in 2005 by James Rucker and Van Jones. Rucker had previously been Director of Grassroots Mobilization for Political Action and Civic Action (2003–2005). Van Jones is the founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and was executive director at the time.[2] Van Jones left the organization several years later to move on to other pursuits, such as Green For All.[3] Rashad Robinson is its Executive Director, having joined the organization in May 2011. Robinson previously held leadership roles at GLAAD,[4] the Right to Vote Campaign,[5] and FairVote.[6]

Color of Change began in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, creating campaigns to help the hurricane's survivors.

Color of Change utilizes the Internet, and specifically e-mail, as its main conduit for communicating with its members. Web 2.0 developments such as social networking sites also contributed to the organization's scope and public impact, particularly in the case of the Jena Six (high school students charged with the beating of Justin Barker).[7] Rucker attributes the viral-nature of e-communications with helping promote the case of the Jena Six, and sees the Internet as a powerful resource for activists looking to garner attention for causes.[8] The Democratic Strategist also noted that major blogs and supposedly liberal media outlets were largely silent on the case of the Jena Six,[9] while The Cornell Daily Sun wrote that web-savvy organizations like Color of Change have been able to adopt new Internet technologies for causes of civic protest, but indicated that these new technologies should not be thought of as a total replacement for concrete grassroots work.[10]


Hurricane Katrina[edit]

Color of Change was involved with helping resolve issues associated with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. They advocated for the availability of housing to those whose homes were lost or damaged. One of Color of Change's past campaigns involved garnering support for Senate bill S.1668, which would have repaired and opened thousands of minimally damaged public housing units.[11] This bill was not enacted.[12]

Other related campaigns included the support of satellite voting for disenfranchised voters,[13] advocating justice for Algiers Point shooting victims,[14] and advocating against the construction of a 5,800-bed prison in New Orleans.[15]

While there was controversy over how money raised by various advocacy groups was spent, the Chicago Tribune‍ '​s Howard Witt noted that Color of Change were the only national civil rights group to be fully transparent with their use of the funds.[16]

Criminal Justice[edit]

Jena Six[edit]

Color of Change advocated for the Jena Six, a group of six black teenagers who were charged with the beating of a white teenager in Jena, Louisiana, United States, on December 4, 2006.[17] The Jena campaign was such a galvanizing force that it tripled Color of Change's membership.[18] According to the Chicago Tribune, Color of Change raised over $200,000 for the Jena Six defense.[19] A petition created by Color Of Change called for District Attorney Walters to drop all charges and for Governor Kathleen Blanco to investigate his conduct.[20]

Troy Davis[edit]

In September, 2008, Color of Change began a campaign in support of Troy Davis. Over 666,000 petitions urging clemency for Mr. Davis were delivered to the Georgia pardons board.[21] The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis.[22] Color of Change released a formal statement after Troy Davis' death.[23]

Trayvon Martin[edit]

Color of Change began a campaign advocating "justice" for alleged murder victim Trayvon Martin on March 19, 2012,[24] as well as the repeal of so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws nationwide.

Private Prisons[edit]

In 2013, Color of Change launched a campaign targeting the private prison industry, demanding “investors and board members of for-profit prison companies to get out of this exploitative business.[25]” To date, various corporations have since divested nearly $60 million from the private prison industry.[26]

News Accountability[edit]

Glenn Beck[edit]

In 2009 Color of Change launched a campaign urging advertisers on Glenn Beck's Fox News show to pull their ads, in response to comments by Beck in which he called President Obama "a racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture".[27] Affected advertisers switched their ads to different Fox programs.[28]

Nas and Fox News[edit]

A campaign against Fox News was developed in protest of recurring remarks that some believed to be racist,[29] including negative comments directed at President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.[30][31][32][33] This campaign was led by hip hop artist Nas, Color of Change,, and Brave New Films. The campaign collected 620,000 petition signatures, which were delivered to Fox News headquarters in July 2008.[34]

Pat Buchanan[edit]

In 2011 Color of Change launched a campaign urging MSNBC to fire Pat Buchanan for his remarks about white supremacy[35] and his affiliation with a white supremacist radio program.[36]

MSNBC suspended Pat Buchanan's show for four months before cancelling it in February, 2012.[37]

News Accuracy Report Card[edit]

In March of 2015, ColorOfChange released "NOT TO BE TRUSTED: Dangerous Levels of Inaccuracy in TV Crime Reporting in NYC,"[38] a report detailing how local news coverage in New York City distorts the picture of criminal justice, and the negative impacts this inaccurate imagery has on Black communities. ColorOfChange partnered with Media Matters to study the representation of Black people in nightly local TV news reporting on crime. The resulting report found that every major network affiliate station in New York City consistently over-represents Black people as perpetrators of crime. is committed to working to ensure that the local news in New York City is reported accurately.

Media Justice[edit]

All My Babies' Mamas[edit]

In January 2013, Color of Change launched a campaign demanding the Oxygen network and its parent company NBCUniversal cease production on the reality TV show All My Babies’ Mamas, starring rapper Shawty Lo and the ten mothers of his eleven children. Within days the campaign garnered 45,000 signatures, prompting Oxygen to announce the cancellation of the show.[39]

Saturday Night Live[edit]

In October 2013, an open letter penned by Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson and published in the Hollywood Reporter took Saturday Night Live Executive Producer Lorne Michaels to task for the lack of diversity on SNL, pointing out that only three Black women had joined the show’s repertory cast in its then-39-year history.[40]

Amy Pascal[edit]

In December 2014, Color of Change launched a petition for Sony to fire Amy Pascal, the co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, after her racially insensitive e-mails were leaked.[41][42] Pascal had suggested President Barack Obama would enjoy Django Unchained and The Butler, two films which deal with slavery in the United States and the pre-civil rights era.[43][44] ColorofChange contended, "Pascal’s comments are confirmation of the manipulative, exploitative relationship corporations like Sony have with Black folks."[41] They added, "We must hold Pascal accountable here; not just for her horrendous comments, but also for her role at the helm of a corporate agenda that views Black America as one big, lucrative joke."[41]

Net Neutrality[edit]

In July 2014, Color of Change launched a campaign calling out 10 members of the Congressional Black Caucus for opposing efforts to protect net neutrality, demanding they no longer do the “dirty work” of telecommunications companies like AT&T and Time Warner.[45]

Economic Justice[edit]

Wall Street[edit]

Color of Change advocated for the investigation of Wall Street banks in wake of a national housing and foreclosure crisis.[46]

Political Accountability[edit]

American Legislative Exchange Council[edit]

Color of Change began a boycott campaign against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on December 8, 2011, objecting to ALEC's support of Voter ID laws.[47] After the campaign was expanded to protest of Stand Your Ground initiatives, following the Trayvon Martin shooting, a number of major companies pulled their funding from ALEC.[48] Color of Change also urged its members to take online and offline action to convince corporations to quit ALEC.[49]

Congressional Black Caucus[edit]

The organization also lobbied the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 2007 to not host a Democratic presidential debate with the Fox network, which it argued "consistently marginalizes... Black leaders and the Black community.".[50] Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama eventually decided to shun the Congressional Black Caucus/Fox debate. James Rucker, one of the founders of Color of Change, argued that Fox was using its partnership with the CBC as part of an image building campaign to make itself appear more "Black-friendly."[51]

In 2008, Color of Change began an e-mail campaign to urge members of the CBC (those who are superdelegates) to endorse candidates according to how their districts voted.[52] In February, 2008, Representative John Lewis, a senior member in Congress and the CBC, declared that he would switch his allegiance from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama because his district overwhelmingly supported Obama in its primary.[53]


  1. ^ Corvey, JJ. ".6 Color of Change". 
  2. ^ Color of Change: "How it Started,"
  3. ^ Color of Change, What Is, accessed 18 August 2009
  4. ^ Goode, Morgan. "GLAAD’S Senior Director of Media Programs Appearing Tonight on the Derek and Romaine Show". GLAAD. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Robinson, Rashad. "Nebraska Ends its Permanent Voting Ban for People with Felony Convictions; Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto to Change the States' Felony Disfranchisement Law". Common Dreams. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Rashad Robinson". Fair Vote. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Witt, Howard (2007-09-18). "Blogs help drive Jena protest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  8. ^ Anderson Cooper, 360 Degrees, 09-20-07 <>
  9. ^ Compton, Matt. "Jena and the Internet". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  10. ^ The Cornell Daily Sun, 09-11-2007, "The New Age of Activism,"
  11. ^ "Help Katrina Survivors Come Home," Color of Change <>
  12. ^ "S. 1668 (110th): Gulf Coast Housing Recovery Act of 2007". Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  13. ^ "Help Run Ad Calling out Governor Blanco". Color of Change. Retrieved 5-12-2006.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  14. ^ "Demand justice in post-Katrina shootings". Color of Change. Retrieved 12-01-2008.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ "Lift up, don't lock up New Orleans". Color of Change. Retrieved 2011-11-21. 
  16. ^ Witt, Howard (2007-11-11). "Controversy over the Jena 6 funds". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  17. ^ Franklin, Craig (2007-10-24). "Media myths about the Jena 6". The Christian Science Monitor (Jena, Louisiana). pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  18. ^ Garofoli, Joe (2007-09-22). "Louisiana's Jena Six beating case galvanizes S.F.'s 'black MoveOn'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  19. ^ "New Reports Claim Nearly Half A Million Dollars Donated to Jena Six is Missing". Fox News. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  20. ^ Color of Change. "Justice for the Jena 6". Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  21. ^ Sullivan, Lena. "Groups deliver petitions for Troy Davis". Georgia Daily News. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Barr, Bob. "Ruling to execute Troy Davis violates core principles". CNN. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  23. ^ Robinson, Rashad (2011-09-22). "Troy Davis Is Dead; the Movement Continues". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "Justice for Trayvon Martin". Color of Change. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "Tell the private prison industry: Black bodies are not for sale". Color of Change. 
  26. ^ "A Win For Civil Society As Corporations Divest From Private Prison Industry". Mint Press News. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  27. ^ New York Daily News, 18 August 2009, President Obama insult by Glenn Beck has advertisers boycotting show
  28. ^ Bloomberg Businessweek October 13, 2010 "Why Businesses Don't Trust the Tea Party"
  29. ^ "An overview: Fox News and its problem with African-Americans". Color of Change. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  30. ^ "Fox News Jokes About Killing Obama". Youtube. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  31. ^ Slate: The "Terrorist Fist Jab" and Me. July 14, 2008.
  32. ^ Malcolm, Andrew (2008-06-12). "Fox News in trouble again over Obama smear: 'baby mama'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  33. ^ Tuned In, Time: In Which I Admit That Bill O'Reilly Is Right. March 31, 2008.
  34. ^ "Demand Fox stop race baiting and fear mongering". Color of Change. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  35. ^ "Pat Buchanan/MSNBC". Color of Change. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  36. ^ Huffington Post: Pat Buchanan's MIA From MSNBC While Promoting Controversial Book. November 8, 2011.
  37. ^ Bauder, David (2012-02-16). "Pat Buchanan, MSNBC Part Ways: Network Drops Conservative Commentator 4 Months After Suspending Him". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  38. ^ "Not To Be Trusted: Dangerous Levels of Inaccuracy in TV Crime Reporting in NYC". Color of Change. Retrieved March 2015. ,
  39. ^ "Oxygen Media officially cancels "All My Babies’ Mamas"". Color of Change. Retrieved 15 January 2013. 
  40. ^ "Civil Rights Group to Lorne Michaels: Why Doesn't 'SNL' Cast Black Women? (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  41. ^ a b c Aaron Couch, Civil Rights Group Asks Sony to Fire Amy Pascal Over Leaked Emails, The Hollywood Reporter, December 18, 2014
  42. ^ ColorOfChange: Tell Sony: Fire Amy Pascal!
  43. ^ Matthew Zeitlin (2014-12-10). "Scott Rudin On Obama’s Favorite Movies: "I Bet He Likes Kevin Hart"". Buzzfeed. 
  44. ^ Hayley Tsukayama (2014-12-11). "A Sony exec cracks jokes about Obama’s race, and eight more bruising revelations from the Sony leak". Washington Post. 
  45. ^ "Fight over net neutrality gets racial". Seattle pi. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  46. ^ "Hold Wall Street banks accountable". Color of Change. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  47. ^ "Tell corporations: stop funding ALEC". Color of Change. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  48. ^ Rusch, Timothy. "Major Companies Leave ALEC as ColorOfChange Organizing Effort Continues". FitzGibbon Media. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  49. ^ Hoffman, John. " and Advocacy: The ALEC Campaign". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  50. ^ Derkacz, Evan (2007-04-05). "Group calls on Dems to leave Fox debate out in cold". Alternet. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  51. ^ Hernandez, Raymond, and Jacques Steinberg (2007-05-27). "For Democrats, Debate on Fox Reveals Divide". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  52. ^ "Tell CBC superdelegates to uphold the will of the voters". Color of Change. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  53. ^ Zeleny, Jeff, and Patrick Healy (2008-02-15). "Black Leader, a Clinton Ally, Tilts to Obama". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 

External links[edit]