Color of Change

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Color of Change
Color of Change logo.png
Founded 2005[1]
Founder James Rucker, Van Jones
Type 501(c)(4)
Focus Civil rights, politics, mass media
Method Online advocacy, lobbying, petitions
Key people
Rashad Robinson
$548,389 (2013)[2]
Slogan "Changing the color of democracy"

Color of Change is a progressive[3][4] nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization in the United States.[5][6][7] It was formed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in order to use online resources to strengthen the political voice of African Americans.[8] Color of Change is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organizing with an affiliated political action committee.[9] Rashad Robinson serves as the organization's executive director.

History and overview[edit]

Color of Change was co-founded in 2005 by James Rucker and Van Jones to replicate the email list model among African American Internet users.[10][11] Rucker had previously worked for the Political Action and Civic Action while Jones was the founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.[12] Rashad Robinson is the organization's executive director, having joined the organization in May 2011.[13]

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 contribute to the organization's strategy.[14][15]

In 2015, Color of Change was ranked 6th on Fast Company's list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World.[16]


Criminal justice advocacy[edit]

The organization gained prominence with its national campaign to assist the Jena Six, in which Color of Change raised $212,000 for the Jena Six legal defense, largely through online donations.[12][17] The Chicago Tribune‍ '​s Howard Witt noted that Color of Change was the only national civil rights group to be fully transparent with their use of the funds related to the Jena 6.[18] The Jena campaign was such a galvanizing force that it tripled Color of Change's membership.[17]

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.[19] The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency to Troy Davis.[20] Color of Change released a formal statement after Troy Davis' death.[21]

Color of Change began a campaign in support of Trayvon Martin on March 19, 2012. The organization also advocated the repeal of Stand Your Ground laws nationwide.[22][23]

In 2013, Color of Change launched a campaign targeting private prisons, demanding that investors in private prisons divest their investments. Various corporations have since divested nearly $60 million from the private prison industry.[24][25]

Media criticism[edit]

Glenn Beck

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."[26] Affected advertisers switched their ads to different Fox programs.[27][dead link]

Nas and Fox News

A campaign against Fox News was developed in protest of recurring remarks[by whom?] that Color of Change believed to be racist,[28] including negative comments directed at President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.[29][30][31] 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.[32]

Pat Buchanan

In 2011, Color of Change launched a campaign urging MSNBC to fire Pat Buchanan for his remarks about white supremacy and his affiliation with a white supremacist radio program.[33][34] MSNBC suspended Pat Buchanan's show for four months before cancelling it in February 2012.[35]

News Accuracy Report Card

In March 2015, Color of Change and Media Matters for America released Not To Be Trusted: Dangerous Levels of Inaccuracy in TV Crime Reporting in NYC,[36] a report detailing how the organization believes that local news coverage in New York City distorts the picture of criminal justice, and the negative impacts this inaccurate imagery has on black communities.[citation needed]

All My Babies' Mamas

In January 2013, Color of Change launched a campaign demanding that Oxygen 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. Color of Change argued that the show perpetrated harmful stereotypes about African American families.[37] A petition garnered over 40,000 signatures and Oxygen announced the cancellation of the show.[38]

Saturday Night Live

In October 2013, an open letter penned by Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson and published in the Hollywood Reporter criticized Saturday Night Live (SNL) Executive Producer Lorne Michaels 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.[39]

Amy Pascal

In December 2014, Color of Change launched a petition for Sony to fire Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, after her e-mails were leaked.[40] 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.[41][42]

Policy positions[edit]

In 2012, representatives from the Color of Change attended a meeting of the Democracy Initiative, a progressive coalition whose goals include restricting political contributions permitted by the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and combating voter ID laws.[43]

In July 2014, Color of Change launched a campaign calling out ten members of the Congressional Black Caucus for opposing efforts to protect net neutrality.[44]

Color of Change advocated for the investigation of Wall Street banks in wake of a national housing and foreclosure crisis.[45]

Political advocacy[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.[46][47] After the campaign was expanded to a protest of stand-your-ground laws following the Trayvon Martin shooting, a number of major companies pulled their funding from ALEC. Color of Change also urged its members to take online and offline action to convince corporations to quit ALEC.[48]

Congressional Black Caucus[edit]

The organization lobbied the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 2007 to not host a Democratic presidential debate with the Fox network.[49] 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."[50]

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.[51] 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.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gold, Matea (August 24, 2009). "Glenn Beck goes after Color of Change co-founder Van Jones". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "IRS Form 990 2013" (PDF). GuideStar. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Carroll, Lauren; Contorno, Steven (October 30, 2014). "Republicans are trying to impeach Barack Obama, civil rights group says". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  4. ^ Chockshi, Niraj (September 24, 2014). "Yahoo, Yelp, Facebook, Google and Microsoft reconsider their relationship with free-market group ALEC". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Krissah (December 28, 2010). "Activist groups take full advantage of new media outlets to spread their message". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "What Is". Color of Change. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Lewis, Renee (October 22, 2014). "Activists demand comprehensive federal data on Americans killed by police". Al Jazeera America. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  8. ^ Shaw, Randy (2013). Activist's Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century. University of California Press. p. 170. ISBN 9780520956995. 
  9. ^ Kaplan, Larry (September 22, 2014). "DOJ Initiative on Community-Police Relations Draws Support". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Weigel, David (March 28, 2011). "Shut Up Everybody". Slate. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  11. ^ Bai, Matt (August 6, 2008). "Is Obama the End of Black Politics?". New York Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  12. ^ a b Moulitsas Zuniga, Markos (2008). Taking on the System: Rules for Change in a Digital Era. Penguin. ISBN 9781440635526. 
  13. ^ Seligson, Hannah (October 8, 2012). "The Advocates Jerime Black, Rashad Robinson". Ad Week. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  14. ^ Witt, Howard (2007-09-18). "Blogs help drive Jena protest". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  15. ^ "ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES". CNN. September 20, 2007. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  16. ^ McCorvey, J.J. "Color of Change". Fast Company. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  17. ^ a b Garofoli, Joe (September 22, 2007). "Louisiana's Jena Six beating case galvanizes S.F.'s 'black MoveOn'". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  18. ^ Witt, Howard (2007-11-11). "Controversy over the Jena 6 funds". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-02-02. 
  19. ^ Sullivan, Lena. "Groups deliver petitions for Troy Davis". Georgia Daily News. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  20. ^ Barr, Bob. "Ruling to execute Troy Davis violates core principles". CNN. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  21. ^ Robinson, Rashad (2011-09-22). "Troy Davis Is Dead; the Movement Continues". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  22. ^ Nichols, John (July 16, 2013). "Outrage Is Rising Against Stand Your Ground". The Nation. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  23. ^ Muskal, Michael (November 15, 2013). "Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin shootings: How they compare". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  24. ^ "A Win For Civil Society As Corporations Divest From Private Prison Industry". Mint Press News. Retrieved 8 May 2014. 
  25. ^ Quandt, Katie Rose (April 28, 2014). "Corporations Divest Nearly $60 Million From Private Prison Industry". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  26. ^ New York Daily News, 18 August 2009, President Obama insult by Glenn Beck has advertisers boycotting show
  27. ^ Bloomberg Businessweek October 13, 2010 "Why Businesses Don't Trust the Tea Party"
  28. ^ "An overview: Fox News and its problem with African-Americans". Color of Change. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  29. ^ Slate: The "Terrorist Fist Jab" and Me. July 14, 2008.
  30. ^ Malcolm, Andrew (2008-06-12). "Fox News in trouble again over Obama smear: 'baby mama'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  31. ^ Tuned In, Time: In Which I Admit That Bill O'Reilly Is Right. March 31, 2008.
  32. ^ Reid, Shaheem (July 23, 2008). "Nas Takes Fox News To Task For What He Calls ‘Racist Attacks,’ At NYC Rally". MTV. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  33. ^ Huffington Post: Pat Buchanan's MIA From MSNBC While Promoting Controversial Book. November 8, 2011.
  34. ^ Shapiro, Rebecca (October 25, 2011). "Color Of Change Urges MSNBC To Fire Pat Buchanan". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  35. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ "Not To Be Trusted: Dangerous Levels of Inaccuracy in TV Crime Reporting in NYC". Color of Change. Retrieved March 2015. ,
  37. ^ Couch, Aaron (January 13, 2013). "Civil Rights Group Accuses Oxygen Reality Show of Racism". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  38. ^ Porter, Alfonzo (January 16, 2013). "All My Babies’ Mamas: scores a victory against negative images". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  39. ^ "Civil Rights Group to Lorne Michaels: Why Doesn't 'SNL' Cast Black Women? (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  40. ^ Aaron Couch, Civil Rights Group Asks Sony to Fire Amy Pascal Over Leaked Emails, The Hollywood Reporter, December 18, 2014
  41. ^ Matthew Zeitlin (2014-12-10). "Scott Rudin On Obama’s Favorite Movies: "I Bet He Likes Kevin Hart"". Buzzfeed. 
  42. ^ 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. 
  43. ^ Kroll, Andy (January 19, 2013). "Revealed: The Massive New Liberal Plan to Remake American Politics". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  44. ^ "Fight over net neutrality gets racial". Seattle pi. Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  45. ^ "MoveOn, Color Of Change Demand Obama To Investigate Wall Street Banks, Housing Crisis". Huffington Post. January 19, 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  46. ^ Hsu, Tiffany (April 6, 2012). "Coca-Cola, Kraft leave conservative ALEC after boycott launched". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  47. ^ Condon, Stephanie (April 23, 2012). "Liberals keep up the pressure on ALEC". CBS News. Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  48. ^ Hoffman, John. " and Advocacy: The ALEC Campaign". Nonprofit Quarterly. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  49. ^ Derkacz, Evan (2007-04-05). "Group calls on Dems to leave Fox debate out in cold". Alternet. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  50. ^ Hernandez, Raymond, and Jacques Steinberg (2007-05-27). "For Democrats, Debate on Fox Reveals Divide". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  51. ^ "Tell CBC superdelegates to uphold the will of the voters". Color of Change. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  52. ^ 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]