"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 27, 2011

Sentiments of a Kind

As an African-American, I am always conscious of how I am treated by my fellow citizens based on my heritage, education, and status of citizenship according to my income level. And I notice that there exist a tendency for citizens to treat African-Americans with a lack of respect based on a school of thought which stems from the idea of white superiority. Race has always been an issue that has divided us as citizens and as humans in general however the idea that a person is superior and deserves an inherent privilage is absurd. Furthermore, white superiority resembles the same train of thought and belief system that produced Nazsim. Yet society has adopted this idea that amongst human race being black is being onfthe lowest rung on the ladder and is similar to being on a team that is and will always come in last place in the human race by default. I do not believe that everyone shares these sentiments towards African Americans but for those that do are under an illusion that this acceptable and that African Americans can not and are not taking the actions to deal the threat to their well being.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reflections on CIW and SFA class visit

Recently Max Perez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Liz Fitzgerald of the Student Farm worker Alliance came to speak at Kathy's Critical Social Thought class at SFSU. CIW is based out of the agricultural town of Immokalee, Florida. Workers and allies have been organizing since 1996 to campaign for fair food and just labor practices. Max told us that CIW began out of harsh work and living conditions in Immokalee and, in particular, of an incident in which a man working the fields stopped to get water and was beaten. The town then organized and marched to the contractors house with the message that "to beat one of us is to beat us all." After that march change came. Their was a realization of the power of the collective and strength of empowered workers. According to Max, CIW still has the bloodied shirt of the beaten worker. What stood out vividly to me in this talk was Max describing the conditions of the workers in 1000+ acre fields: men and women waiting early in the morning for buses to the fields, waiting for tomatoes to dry before harvest, waiting in lines to turn in over-filled buckets of produce for a single wage chip, waiting to cash in wage chips for 40 cents each, waiting for liberation, waiting, working, waiting. For me the idea of waiting for justice brings King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" to mind. King states, "there comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair." The beating of a fellow worker set off organization which led to failed strikes but other huge successes with a modified organization plan. The role of the student in this movement has been great, as Liz and the SFA have directly worked with and supported CIW to achieve significant change. To fight back CIW and SFA have campaigned to gain the support of food service corporations to pay 1 cent more per pound of tomatoes to be allocated to pickers. The most recent big success has been the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange agreeing to a code of conduct. This code of conduct enforces labor laws, implements the penny per pound increase, protects worker health, etc. SFA has engaged in direct actions that targets food chains and supermarkets to sign on to the penny more per pound agreement.
Listening to Max and Liz and hearing the conditions that sparked this movement, as well as the strategies they are using to gain great success in their struggle inspires me to see the connections to our country's past and future. CIW has documented several cases of slavery which most people in this country believe no longer exists but is, in fact, thriving. I envision the waiting and despair that slaves endured, the waiting that our black and other citizens of color did in the 50s and 60s for desegregation, and the waiting that workers in our agriculture fields are doing for fair conditions today. So much waiting for liberation. Max and Liz called their struggle "collective liberation." As I write there is revolution and uprising in the middle east. I can not help but think what an uprising in America would look like? With the assault on labor unions in Wisconsin and the protests of workers defending their negotiations rights I wonder if these days are one of the historical moments so many have been waiting for. As I learned in Freedom School, we need to be prepared to take action at the right historical moment and it gives me hope envisioning CIW workers marching, with everything to lose, to the home of their contractor to tell him that they had rights and that their collective was a community not easily broke

Healing Slavery's Legacy

At California Institute of Integral Studies

April 21 - Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, with Dr. Joy DeGruy
April 22 - Slavery's Legacy: A workshop on Intergenerational Trauma and Healing

This series features ground-breaking dialogues with leading scholars, psychotherapists and shamanic practitioners dealing with the residual effects of historical trauma on Native and African American communities and other under-served communities. The series will explore current clinical findings and scientific research and raise questions such as:

    * What is intergenerational trauma?
    * How does it manifest in particular groups?
    * How do historic systems of oppression impact modern health?
    * Is trans-generational trauma one of the causative factors in the alteration of gene expression?
    * What are some of the healing modalities and practices from indigenous and Western traditions?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Freedom Riders Reunion -- panel discussion and photo exhibit

Freedom Riders Reunion   Tue, Mar 1, 7:00pm ---- an evening of stimulating discussion among veterans of the Freedom Rides 

Jewish Community Center, 3200 California St. SF CA
Advanced Reservations Required

Email or call 415-292-1233

In the spring and summer of 1961, hundreds of Americans – blacks and whites, men and women converged on Jackson, Mississippi, to challenge state segregation laws. The Freedom Riders, as they came to be known, were determined to put an end to segregation and discrimination through civil action. Be there for a Freedom Riders reunion panel and and a tour of the “Breach of Peace” photo exhibition in JCCSF’s Katz Snyder Gallery.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Evening with Bobby Seale at USF

Empowering Youth; Creating Change: An Evening with Black Panther Party Co-Founder Bobby Seale Thursday, February 24, 2011, 6:30-7:45p.m., McLaren Complex. Annual Black Cultural Dinner immediately following, McLaren Complex (free and open to the public).

Carrying on the movement for radical black politics after the death of Malcolm X, Mr. Bobby Seale co-founded the controversial Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966. Spreading the message of “power to the people,” Seale and the Party encouraged African Americans to take an active stand against oppression and discrimination, and established several community programs including breakfasts for school children, preventative medical health care, and mass voter registration drives. The noted American Civil Rights Activist will engage in a question and answer conversation with Dr. Candice Harrison, USF professor of African American History. Topics for discussion will be a accompanied by a student-produced video and will include the development of radical black politics, the formation of the Black Panther Party's platform, the past and present political engagement of youth, the future of black political leadership, and interracial grassroots organizing campaigns. Immediately following the conversation, all are invited to attend the Annual Black Cultural Dinner in the McLaren Complex. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP for dinner, contact

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Civil Rights Veterans at SFSU

I am teaching two courses at SFSU -- Women, Politics and Citizenship and Critical Social Thought.

I have invited Civil Rights Veterans to speak in both classes.  If you are interested in attending when they speak, please feel free to drop by.

WPC (women politics and citizenship)  (M,W, F)  HSS (Humanities and Social Science) 130  --   1:10 - 2 pm

March 11    Rape and Porgy and Bess  ---  Chude Allen
April 11  Jean Wiley (asked but not confirmed)
April 20  Cathy Cade
April 15   Race and Radicalism  -- Debra Watkins (founder and ex dir of CA Assoc of Af Am Educators)

CST (Critical Social Thought)  Wednesday  4:10- 6:55 ---  Thorton Hall 409

Feb 16   Don Jelineck
March 9   Bruce Hartford
March 23  Wazir Peacock
April 6   Miriam Glickman & Chude Allen
April 20  Jimmy Rogers
May 4 Mike Miller

Heroines of the Southern Freedom Movement

Black History Month Honors 50th
Anniversary of Heroines in Civil Rights
Sunday, February 27th, 2:00–4:30pm

Join FACES of the East Bay in honoring the 50th anniversary of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and the courageous women who risked their lives on the front lines of the civil rights movement.
The free event will feature presentations by four Bay Area activists and contributing authors to the new book Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. Fifty-two women share their stories in this book about the movement that changed the course of history.

Hear the stories of “women bursting out of constraints, leaving school, leaving their hometowns, meeting new people, talking into the night, laughing, going to jail, being afraid, teaching in Freedom Schools, working in the field, dancing at the Elks Hall, working the WATS line to relay horror story after horror story, telling the press, telling the story, telling the word. And making a difference in the world.”

Jean Wiley, Cathy Cade, Jane Bond Moore, and Betita Martinez will be signing their book, and poet Chude Allen will moderate a discussion. Additional guests include Rev. Phil Lawson and pianist and composer Jacqui Hairston, who will present history and highlights of the musical spirit that carried the Civil Rights movement.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to meet the heroines and hear the stories and songs of this pivotal era.

Also, on Friday, February 25 from 7:00 to 9:30 pm, FACES will show two films, Standing on My Sisters’ Shoulders, a powerful documentary about courageous women leading the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s, and excerpts of You Got to Move, featuring profiles of Bernice Reagon and Bernice Robinson.

Location for both events: East Bay Church of Religious Science;
4130 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, California. For further information
contact Amahra Hicks, 510-758-4212.

Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement
East Bay Church of Religious Science
Ella Baker Center
OneLife Institute