In some ways, the beginnings of Social Justice Tours started in 2010, when founder Dan Kaminsky was living and working in Post-Katrina New Orleans. The organization he worked with gave tours of the Levees highlighting systemic injustice and the ways in which Katrina was more a human and justice-related disaster than a natural one.
Five years later, he had a job as a tour guide on double decker buses (while also organizing to create a workers' union). As a guide, any time he mentioned anything social justice-related, he was met largely with blank stares by tourists. While he was disillusioned with his bus audience, he very much saw the power in using tours as a medium to create dialogue, ask hard questions and spread information on histories of justice and equity that many people were not seeing in their experience of these areas.
After getting fired for organizing a union, he decided to start giving a gentrification tour with the aim of spreading information amongst locals and residents who may be aware of the changes in the neighborhood, but unaware of the backstory, the policies that led to those changes and how to work to fight against them. Some years later, Dan decided to bring some fellow activists and organizers into the fold, and to transition out as those he’d brought together formed a collective.
Social Justice Tours transformed into a collective in February 2020 -- yes, that's right, literally a month before the pandemic! Somehow, the collective kept going throughout the entire lockdown, and as soon as we could hit the streets again we were ready to bring you an array of powerful, enlightening, inspiring in-person walks again. Today we are back to offering in-person educational walks and programs which highlight historical struggles and current social movements here in New York City. These days, we regularly arrange tailored programs for scholars and students, activists and organizers, workplaces and youth-groups. Furthermore, we offer monthly public programs to local New Yorkers and visitors seeking to engage in radical, place-based, visceral and emotional self-education.
In 2022, we renamed ourselves "Social Justice Walks," a reflection of our effort to provide radical political education (as opposed to focusing on the business side of things, which often entailed guiding tourists as they observe the city from a distance). On all our walks, we continue to learn alongside you about the origins and development of this city, its neighborhoods, and its institutions; in the process we understand the incredible challenges New Yorkers have taken on, and we connect with the city's proud and creative histories of resistance. Join us for our next public program here, or book a private walk, here!