In the early 1970s, although AFSC had begun to diversify our staff, most people of color held support positions, not program or leadership roles. In 1971, a group of people of African-American, Asian, Latino, and Indigenous heritage formed the Third World Coalition (TWC) and brought their concerns to the AFSC Board. In response, the Board affirmed TWC’s mission with a mandate to incorporate the experiences and perspectives of people of color into the planning and execution of all Service Committee work.

This changed AFSC profoundly. Staff of color moved into new positions throughout the organization and challenged the status quo. Coalition members reviewed internal programs and initiatives, offering feedback and striving for greater inclusivity. In addition, the annual gatherings of the TWC created community and solidarity among staff of color from all levels of the organization.

Seeking to build connections across differences, TWC members also met with liberation advocates in the U.S. and internationally. Today the TWC lives on in a new incarnation, continuing to challenge structural racism inside and outside AFSC.

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  • Group of people sitting around a table, holding a sign that reads, "TWC in solidarity with third world struggles."
    Early TWC members hold a sign that says “TWC in solidarity with third world struggles.” As one founder said, “We wanted AFSC to become an ally who tried to empower, not merely service, disenfranchised people.”
  • Two people sitting on steps speak with a man standing up.
    At annual TWC gatherings, such as this one which coincided with the Chicago Conference for Latinos in 1987, staff from all levels made meaningful connections inside and outside of AFSC.
  • Huge group of people fill the park outside Philadelphia City Hall. One person holds a sign that reads "There is no justice, just us"
    After the verdict was announced in the 1992 Rodney King police brutality trial, TWC held a rally outside City Hall in Philadelphia.
  • Young woman holds a sign that reads "Solidarity: two walls, one struggle."
    TWC delegations (here, in Palestine) helped highlight the links between progressive struggles around the world.
  • Group of people climb stairs to a house with a sign in front that reads "Welcome home, Goodwin Family!"
    Soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2010, TWC members visited New Orleans to see how they could help in both the short- and the long-term.
  • Group of eleven people stand and sit together outside a building with an AFSC banner strung up behind them.
    TWC has been the only committee of the Board to include staff members, bringing diverse voices and perspectives to leadership.