"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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Monday, April 16, 2007

Sing don't Chant

Saturday morning I participated in a picket and distributed leaflets against NCLB in front of the Moscone Center. Phil Brown from Eliminate NCLB, Phil Kovacs from Educator Roundtable,
Joe Lucido from Fresno and Craig Gordon from OEA came with others from their organizations and joined SF's Teachers 4 Social Justice Saturday morning, April 14th to picket and hand out literature to those attending the National School Board Association's annual meeting. (Thanks to Karen and Dawn for taking the lead in organizing the SF folks -- and kudos to Eric and Mark for coming out and joining us.)
The groups from Fresno and King's County/Tulare had gotten up at some god awful time in the morning (5 AM?) to get on buses and arrive at 7:30 AM. Phil Brown guessed that they handed out 7500 flyers. Dawn and I arrived at 10 AM and handed out our flyers. We were shooed away from the doors of the Center and put on a traffic island where we joined those walking in a oval who were chanting. I immediately thought of one of Bruce Hartford's "seven key concepts of nonviolent direct action"-- chanting is to singing as a mouse is to an elephant. I told Marsha Feinland of the Peace and Freedom Party that we had to sing and not chant. (Singing can be heard farther away, the words carry farther; you can sing a lot longer than you can chant; singing invites people in while chanting pushes people away; lyrics of songs tend to be much more informative than chants, etc.). So on the spot, Marsha and I tried to come up with a song. We took the tune of "Row, Row, Row your Boat" and sang,

Test, test, test the kids
send them down the stream
N--, C---, L---, B---
makes you want to scream

Not the greatest attempt, but we tried. The problem is picking a tune that everyone knows and likes but is not complicated, lends itself to lyrics where a few new lyrics can easily be plugged in. This was my small attempt to take the lessons learned in the SF Freedom School and apply them today.

later that day I thought of another verse to Row, Row, Row you Boat:

test, test, test some more
until they bubble in
N--, C---, L---, B---
Don't believe the spin

Then to the tune of When the Saints Come Marching In:

Oh when the schools
stop giving tests
Oh when the schools stop giving tests,
I want to be in that classroom,
when the schools stop giving tests

Oh when the schools
get fully funded (get needed funds?)
oh when the schools get fully funded
I want to be in that classroom
when the schools get fully funded

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