Laura Rozen reports that the Save Darfur Coalition president Jerry Fowler is stepping down. At the end, she quotes something I wrote a few months ago about what I believe to be some of the strengths and limitations of the Save Darfur movement. Here’s what I wrote:
The time for activism is long gone. In terms of being able to affect change, the movement has played itself out. This is not meant to diminish the accomplishments of the Save Darfur movement. In fact, I would argue that the Save Darfur movement is a singular example of successful activism… Like the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, the Save Darfur movement was able to bring to light a disaster halfway around the world and nurture a general political consensus around it. In fact, the movement was so successful it infiltrated the institution whose behavior it was seeking to change. A number of the leading lights of the Save Darfur movement now hold top positions in the Obama administration. Darfur is a household name.
These are amazing successes — for any movement.
Jerry Fowler is one of the movement leaders who deserves a lot of credit for this. The Save Darfur Coalition was able to nurture a large group of activists around the idea that human rights violations abroad ought to be political priorities here at home. Over the past few years, this has extended beyond Darfur. And now, groups born out of the Save Darfur movement are mobilizing around issues like sexual violence in the Congo and conflict-free investing. This is a sign of mature and vibrant movement. Its leaders ought to be proud.