Nebraska: Grassroots Leaders in Training

On August 2nd and 3rd, a group of 15 Nebraska grassroots leaders participated in their first-ever Democracy School program. Democracy Schools, which are a project of FIRM, aim to develop basic leadership skills among new grassroots immigrant leaders across the nation. Two participants came from Fremont, Nebraska, fresh off of the defeat of a divisive anti-immigrant measure. Their efforts directly contributed to the defeat of the hotly debated bill, which would have required employers to use the flawed E-verify system when hiring new employees.

In the wake of the struggle to kill the bill, participants shared their experience and concerns with the other students of the Democracy School. They want to continue to build Fremont's future but are concerned with the rising divide over the issue of immigration that they witnessed in their small town. Both felt hopeful about the future of the small town, however, saying that Fremont's mayor had taken a step in the right direction by voting against the bill.   

Democracy Schools will continue to take place in different parts of the country and for more information, please contact Mayron Payes at


Mayron Payes is a Community Organizer and Trainer with FIRM.

Pictures: Gloria Sarmiento, Nebraska Appleseed.