The U.S. Social Forum gathers tens of thousands of activists over several days with the goal of building a unified, national social justice movement across the country. Since its inception, two forums have taken place, in Atlanta in 2007 and in Detroit in 2010. Each forum drew over 15,000 activists, and offered a multitude of programs, including workshops, arts and culture performances, activities for children and youth, direct actions, tours, and fundraising initiatives. The event has attracted organizers–a younger, ethnically diverse crowd from a range of fields–interested in developing new “solutions to economic and ecological crises.”
Inspired by the World Social Forum–which, starting in 2001 brought together international activists fighting against neoliberal globalization–the U.S. Social Forum began to take shape in 2005. The planning committee was formed by the group Grassroots Global Justice and was comprised of over forty-five organizations, including Amnesty International USA, the AFL-CIO, and the U.S. Human Rights Network. Despite the breadth of the event, and vast attendance, the USSF, has received little press coverage in the mainstream media.
Detroit was a particularly apt host city for the USSF because of its persistently declining economy, lack of jobs, and other inequitable conditions that have come into central focus in recent years. The tagline for the event, “Another U.S. Is Necessary,” marks the spirit of the USSF, and the desire to overhaul economic systems and government practices–also reflected in the recent “Occupy Wall Street” movement, as well as other protests cropping up in municipal plazas across the globe. Over 1,000 USSF workshops took place, which veered away from standard meeting formats toward more collaborative efforts.