The Abolitionist Dream: Breaking down the prison walls

Freedom to Thrive

The Abolitionist Dream: Breaking down the prison walls

“Proceed from the dream outward”

Jung, as quoted by Anais Nin

When we proceed from the dream outward, our visions for the future become our present reality. We dream for those who will soon come as we live out the legacy of our ancestors who dared to dream. As Maya Angelou says in her poem “The Dreamer”,

If you desire a bright tomorrow, you must build a brighter dream

Dare to let your dreams reach beyond you

Know that history holds more than it seems

We are here alive today because our ancestors dared to dream

It can often feel that our dreams get lost as our movements are forced to divert our energies towards putting out today’s fires, both figuratively and literally. Or worse – we have stopped dreaming entirely. To stop dreaming is to give up on what is possible, to surrender our potential collective power. How can we build a world without walls, without prisons, without war if we lose our ability to imagine a new world.

At Freedom to Thrive, we proceed outward from the dream of abolition. Breaking down walls, shutting down prisons, ending all war, and dismantling systems designed to harm. We fight to abolish, what visionary abolitionist Mariame Kaba calls, “death-making institutions” be them jails, detention centers, the military industrial complex, the police, borders, or other institutions keeping our communities from living fully and freely.

We are dedicated to ending the punishment-based criminal and immigration systems that are predicated on violent colonization and enslavement which have for centuries separated families, kept our people in cages, and criminalized freedom seekers. We recognize the deep connections between the abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex as it intersects with the abolition of walls, borders and all destructive forces. These mechanisms rob us of what is rightfully ours as they attempt to steal away our communities, our dignity, and our dreams.

In 2010, we launched the National Prison Industry Divestment campaign as a step forward in the pursuit of our abolitionist dream. Our campaign celebrated an unprecedented victory in 2016 when Portland, OR became the first city in the US to divest from prisons, pipelines, and apartheid. This dream was made a reality through building across struggles, while committing to abolition and the belief that everyone is valuable. Our coalition was unwavering and unwilling to compromise because our collective liberation is uncompromisable.

Abolition is not just about ending one system but rather as scholar and abolitionist Angela Davis explains, “…we might envision an array of alternatives that will require radical transformations of many aspects of our society.”

As with our movements, our abolition must center radical imagination.

Our abolitionist dream is liberation for all.

We are worthy of dignity.

We are worthy of safety.

We are worth of freedom.

Come dream with us.