For years I made my living as a security guard. After a life spent keeping businesses safe, I had one more job that I wanted to do.
Every morning I would stand on the corner to make sure that the prostitutes and drug addicts in my neighborhood stayed away from the kids waiting for the bus.
I fought that fight alone, every day, from the time I moved into my neighborhood until a few years ago. That was when a community organizer with ACORN walked up to me and asked me how to make my community better. We got cameras installed on the corners, and got officers approved for overtime so that the police would be there to ensure the kids' safety.
The more I learned about ACORN and the more involved I got, the more I realized that my story and experience were not unique.
In addition to untold neighborhood improvements, ACORN's organizing victories have put billions of dollars back in working people's pockets by working to increase minimum wages, stop budget cutbacks and fight back against predatory lending practices.
We were taking predatory lenders to task in Minnesota years before it was a household term. Our first legislative success on that front came back in 2004 in the state Legislature.
But when right-wing extremists own a TV network and most of talk radio, spurious attacks can spread like wildfire until they seem to have resonance.
We are not perfect -- none of us is -- but let's be clear: There was not one single fraudulent ACORN voter, either in Minnesota or the rest of the country.
ACORN has gotten a lot of grief from the right wing, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the editors of the Wall Street Journal, who attack ACORN for what we believe. While they call ACORN "corrupt" and "socialist," what they are really worried about is how ACORN effectively challenges big business and its conservative political allies on behalf of working families.
Recently, a former ACORN board member, Karen Inman, joined the right wing in attacking the organization -- and wrote a commentary on the subject for MPRNewsQ. The public should know that Inman was removed from her position on ACORN's board early this year.
Since her dismissal from the board, Inman has attacked ACORN, making false accusations about its finances and governance in an attempt to disrupt our work.
While viewers of Fox News might be led to believe that ACORN is awash in public dollars, the truth is that ACORN gets very little of its money from government agencies. The group's work is financed by member dues and the generous support of individuals, foundations and organizations who share our commitment to justice.
People from the community make up ACORN. I'm going to keep fighting alongside them, and so should anyone else who cares about making the Twin Cities a better place to live.
Sherman Wilburn, Minneapolis, is a retired security guard and Minnesota board chair of ACORN.