"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

black history celebration at Alice Griffith Opportunity Center

Yesterday, Sherri and I went to the Alice Griffith Opportunity Center to participate in their first annual black history celebration. SFFS was there to show a movie, we showed 25 minute excerpt from With All Deliberate Speed (focusing on the Barbara Johns story with some of the Briggs story). We were scheduled at the beginning of the program (after an opening prayer and a couple of poems by Barbara Crittle). When we started the film there were about 15 very young children and a dozen adults. after 20 minutes only 4 adults remained. we stopped the film and had a good discussion with the 4 adults. We introduced each other and Sherri pointed out later that it was a good opportunity for "people to tell their stories, that doesn't happen enough." After the movie/discussion we went back outside to hear speeches from the invited speakers, but quickly had to retreat back inside because of rain. Dwayne Jones, Gregg Fortner, Lavelle Shaw and Victoria Vander-court spoke and received awards for their contributions to the community. Victoria gave a good brief history of the bayview and Gregg talked about how federal cut backs in federal housing money had forced him to layoff over 200 employees. He and Dwayne are the only two black heads of city departments (did I get that right). In our discussion with the four movie fans, we talked about the need for jobs among bayview residents and how the elimination of support for minority employment in the city has decreased dramatically minority employment and that was a the heart of the increase in violence going on. Gregg's story about his experiences as head of the housing authority were important for everyone to hear.

Yet, the Opportunity Center is a nice new building in the middle of the housing units, perfectly placed to provide an opportunity to develop community. we (sffs) hope to return again to support freedom education and community building.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

black history celebration

big day yesterday:

spoke with about 15 retired CTA teachers in Alameda in the morning. they were very fired up about fighting high stakes testing and interested in the SF Freedom Schools. Handed out a bunch of flyers. One participant asked if SFFS was a "west coast Highlander?" -- I was delighted that he made the connection!! That would be something, if we could become even a shadow of what Highlander once was.

sherri and I met with Dedria from APRI in the afternoon and plotted out the agenda for this saturday's black history celebration at the alice griffith opportunity center (2525 Griffith STreet). SFFS is responsible for showing a film from 11-12:30 (either something about the history of HIP HOP or the barbara johns's story)-- then there will be a skit, speeches, awards, poetry and PARTY at 2 PM -- food, DJ, and a jumper for kids. SFFS folks are all invited to attend. Dedria wants us to show films for her group at least once a month.

Had a terrific meeting in the evening to plot our first house party. have come up with a template for others. will send that out to all of those willing to do house parties to raise money for SFFS -- if we have enough house parties, maybe we can become a west coast highlander!!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

institutionalized racism

Sandra, Chia and I went to hear a panel on racism in oakland last night. It was at Geoffrey's Inner Circle and put on bythe Black Elected Officials and Faith Based Leaders of the East Bay, Oakland Black Caucus, The John George Democratic Club, the Wellstone Democratic Club, and the Socially Responsible Network. The four panelists wre Monique W. Morris, Director of Discrimination Research Center and author of "Too Beautiful for Words" and authors Francis Adams and Barry Sanders of "Alienable Rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man's Land, 1619-2000, and Dr. Wade Nobles, Executive Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Black Family Life & Culture, Inc., Psychologist and Professor of Africana Studies, San Francisco State University, and Director, Center for Applied Cultural Studies and Educational Achievement.

The DRC website has several publications you can download that identify clearly how racism is institutionalized today. Adams's and Sander's history of racism was a bit depressing; Sanders was a very good speaker (and brief) and Nobles was eloquent on how pathological white supremacy is. The only suggestion last night on how to attack institutionalized racism was to learn african wisdoms -- a necessary but not, by a long shot, necessary variable.

In going to the DRC website and its links I was once again confronted with a very fancy and well funded non profit organization that employs very smart people who are devoted to studying the problem. When will we stop studying and attacking the problem? the non profits are good at research and policy suggestions, but where is the community organizing that will really make the needed changes? Where is the direct action piece to the puzzle?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

a march is not a movement

read yesterday about march 17th march on washington to protest iraq war and thought about how a "march is not a movement". had lunch yesterday with a friend and talked about how the anti vietnam war MOVEMENT came out of the civil rights struggle. Many (a critical mass) of the anti war movement organizers PARTICIPATED in the civil rights movement thus LEARNING BY DOING how to organize a movement. I really feel that people today don't understand what it takes to create a movement. For example, nonviolent resistance (NVR) training and STRATEGIZING -- where is that happening? people today aren't understanding that one of the most important aspects, or the point of NVR, is to provoke the power structure to reveal itself as what it really is -- authoritarian and vicious. For example, the sit ins in Nashville in 1960 didn't desegregate the public accomodations or facilties. It was the boycott that did it, and the boycott was provoked by the REACTION to the sit ins. NVR engaged the community to participate and the tacticians of that movement made sure that their were many different ways in which people could participate, depending on their abilities and temperaments.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A New Beginning


This is an experiment to see if there are people out there who want to share with us their experiences, ideas, opinions about liberation education. We at the SF Freedom School, hopefully, are part of a development that is helping promote the next social movement in this country. We study Civil Rights History as a means to learn the lessons of movement building. Perhaps this blog can be one of many means to develop a better understanding of what we need to know and do in order to:
--stop global warming
--provide health care, affordable housing, living wages and community driven/fully funded education for everyone.

please contribute to the conversation.