Email: billywimsatt (at) gmail.com
Social entrepreneur, philanthropic advisor, public speaker, journalist, and political organizer, Billy serves as the Executive Director of Movement 2017 a platform to support progressive donors to find and fund the best local and national networks combining grassroots issue organizing and voting. He is also President of the Gamechanger family of organizations which supports innovation, collaboration, and new leaders to upgrade social movements for the 21st Century. Projects include the Crazy Ideas Bank and the Movement Voter Project (MVP) which connects organic social movements and electoral politics; VOTE MOB (which has trained and/or supported more than 900 local organizers in 33 states since 2012); Student Power Networks supporting long-term multi-issue student organizing in more than a dozen states; and Local Vote (formerly TheBallot.org) a platform featuring progressive local voter guides in 50 states.
Political Organizing and Social Entrepreneurship
He has co-founded several organizations including Ready for Warren, a campaign to draft Elizabeth Warren to run for President (2015) and the Solidaire Network (2013) a progressive donor community.
In 2003, he co-founded the League of Young Voters & the League of Pissed Off Voters which organized 3000+ youth to create 300+ voter guides. The League impacted at least 29 state and local elections or pieces of legislation including helping swing the Washington State Governors Race in 2004 (by 127 votes) and to elect Senator Al Franken as the 60th Democratic Senator in 2008 (by 312 votes). The League is no more but the SF League is going strong and an NYC League was recently started.
In 2008, he co-created Vote Today Ohio and also created and ran the Ohio Youth Corps program for the Ohio Democratic Party/Obama For America, which trained and deployed 50 staff throughout Ohio.
In 2010, he co-founded Rebuild the Dream (which evolved into Dream Corps) with Natalie Foster and Van Jones. Over his career as a funder, donor adviser, and fundraiser, he has helped move more than 15 million dollars to social change.
He also co-founded the Active Element Foundation (1999); Generational Alliance (2005), and the Coffee Party (2009) – which, sadly, no longer exist.
Books and Journalism
Wimsatt has written for Vibe, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, The Nation, and published six books with 100,000+ copies in print including No More Prisons, Bomb the Suburbs, and its follow up companion: Please Don’t Bomb the Suburbs: A Midterm Report on My Generation, and the Future of our Super Movement.
He is also the editor and publisher of three anthologies: Another World is Possible: Conversations in a Time of Terror (2001): Future 500: Youth Organizing and Activism in United States (2002); and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office: the anti-politics, un-boring guide to power, with Adrienne Maree Brown (2004).
Education, Consulting and Public Speaking
He has consulted for dozens of organizations including Rock the Vote, MoveOn.org, Green For All, and Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing, and has completed Rockwood’s year-long course for executive leaders. A proud Oberlin college drop-out, he has lectured widely on leadership and social change from Yale and Stanford to the Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, to MIT’s graduate school of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Awards and Honors
- Firecracker Book Award – Political Non-Fiction (1999)
- Best First Person Essay – Society of Professional Journalists, Chicago Headline Club (1994)
- Utne Visionary – Utne Magazine (1995)
- Power 30 – The Source Magazine (2008)
- Finalist for “Most Valuable Organizer” – Rootscamp (2012)
- 21st Century Innovator – Midwest Academy (2015)
Praise for Bomb The Suburbs and No More Prisons:
–New York Times
–Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune
–Ronin Ro, The Source
–Jim Meyers, City Pages
“Ahead of the curve.”
–Charles Aaron, Spin Magazine
–Jennifer Gonnerman, Village Voice
“His charisma stems from his courage.”
–Cornel West, Transition
“A refreshing voice for Generation X.”
“One of the five best books of the year.”
–Salim Muwakkil, In These Times
“Punchy, lucid, visionary… mastermind.”
–Robert Christgau, Village Voice
“Not only is Upski one of the best writers on hip-hop bar none. He’s also one of the most exciting theorists on racial and cultural identity in quite awhile.”
–Ben Kim, New City
“Bomb the Suburbs and No More Prisons are cult classics deftly reflecting the hip-hop generation’s maturation.”
–Mosi Reeves, Miami New Times
“Spiritual heir to Norman Mailer…deeply committed to hip-hop’s transformative powers.”
–Hua Hsu, The Atlantic Monthly
“One of the most unique, daring, visionary critiques of race relations ever published.”
–Carl Upchurch, Columbus Alive (organizer of the first national Gang Peace Summit)
“Every generation has its progressive or radical leaders–its Saul Alinsky, you might say. For today’s rabble rousers, it just might be William “Upski” Wimsatt.”
“Chuck D called Bomb the Suburbs one of the best books on hip-hop. He was wrong. It is the best.”
–Jeff Chang, Bay Guardian (Author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop)
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“No More Prisons” was the first book I read when I landed in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn after I uprooted and left home for the first time (with 24 hours notice). It changed my perspective and opened my mind. It opened the door to a different way of thinking for me.
Thank you, Billy Wimsatt, for carrying a message that has helped me become who I am.
I couldn’t help but find hilarity in the fact that when i showed my friends Bomb the Suburbs, they thought it was written by a racist black man.
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Loved your first 2 books. Would be great to have you come to South Bend / Notre Dame and have you speak on activism & social issues. What would it take? $$$
During a meet up with TSEL WRS he showed an original copy of Bomb the suburbs with the actually hand written title. I’m a believer in if you see something twice maybe you should avoid it or look in to it. I was 19 at the time and bought the book, it really helped put some purpose to what I already knew. Just gotta say that you are a great conversationalist even through ink on the page. I’m 22 now and half way through Please Don’t Bomb The Suburbs it’s a lot more pages than the first one on but still just as invoking.
I was 17 years old in 1995. I waited an incredibley short time after he spoke at Northwestern University about The Cool Rich Kids movement for a chance to talk to the person who had become the most influential writer and philosopher in my life. I had read his books, was profoundly effected by his words and had the exact same veiws on hip hop. I remember he needed a ride downtown and I was lucky enough to get a half hour with him alone. At one point, he looked at me and asked “Have you ever wanted to help people? I mean a whole lot of people?” I understood the expanse of his statement through looking at reaction to his own question. He looked like he was in a trance for a moment, like he was aligning a great future for the people he loved in his country and was so determined to make the world a better place. What got me the most, was that I had never thought on that level. Helping a whole lot of people is just what he has done now that I look him up 13 years laster. I am so grateful of his success in making the world a better place. God Bless Upski.