"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, May 23, 2011

Reimaging the Black Man

Saturday, June 4, 2011 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
RSVP by May 15th to

Reimaging the Black Man
Revising Mis-history through Photovoice

Join us for a rich intergenerational conversation
Photographs courtesy of Youth Photo Exhibition
Guests are invited to bring a positive Black male image to add to the exhibit. Photographs will become a permanent part of the exhibit. Maximum size – 3”x4”

Youth Photo Exhibition
Youth Panel Discussion

Second Floor rooms 229 and 225
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library
San Jose State University
Co- sponsored by Cultural Heritage Center Advisory Board and Africana Advisory Board
Department of African-American Studies, San Jose State University

One Lesson of the Freedom Rides - the power of nonviolent resistance

Bernard Lafayette wrote an op-ed piece for the NY TIMES about one particular incident he witnessed while caught in a church in Montgomery, Alabama.  Lafayette, a veteran of the Nashville sit-ins, was one of the volunteers for the first Freedom Ride of 1961 (The FIRST Freedom Ride was in 1947).  His bus had been stopped by violence in Birmingham and then in Montgomery.  Rev. King held a mass meeting in Montgomery's First Baptist Church in support of the riders.  During that meeting, a white mob surrounded the church threatening more violence.  Meanwhile, some black cab drivers were organizing an attack on the mob to rescue those in the church.  King needed 12 volunteers to leave the church and tell the cab drivers not to attack the mob.  Lafayette observed the volunteers, a

art work by Matt Rota for NYTIMES
...small group gathered at the front door of the church, lined up in twos. Then they walked out the doors, as if they were marching. There was an unforgettable silence as they passed out of the church. We watched as they walked through the howling crowd; I was sure I would never see them again. And yet, for all the yelling, the mob didn’t touch them — such is the power of nonviolence. About an hour passed. Suddenly, out of the darkness, they all reappeared, unharmed. Dr. King had convinced the cab drivers to abandon their mission. This was no small miracle. Dr. King showed through this act of courage in this most harrowing moment of the campaign that fear was not a factor for him. It was, at that point in the Freedom Rides, the greatest lesson he could have offered. 

Bernard Lafayette and King were philosophically nonviolent.  Most of the activists who did participate in nonviolent resistance (NVR) during the movement were tactically nonviolent--they did not believe in the power of nonviolence to win over the hearts of their oppressors.  Those who were tactically nonviolent adopted NVR because they knew it was the only way to defeat violence and money power.  Either way--philosophically or tactically--the power of nonviolence has always been more effective more often than violence.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Close the Achievement Gap in a Service Economy?!

As this article from today's New York Times indicates, getting a college degree in no way assures one a good paying job that requires a college degree (unless you are into computers or engineering or want to be a teacher -- one very well paid to young white or foreign men and the other very poorly paid with low status filled mostly by white middle class women)

Some interesting points made in the article:

1. It's who you know: “I have friends with the same degree as me, from a worse school, but because of who they knew or when they happened to graduate, they’re in much better jobs,” 
2. Shit rolls downhill when there is structural inequality: the number of these workers employed in food service, restaurants and bars had risen 17 percent in 2009 from 2008, though the sample size was small. There were similar or bigger employment increases at gas stations and fuel dealers, food and alcohol stores, and taxi and limousine services.  This may be a waste of a college degree, but it also displaces the less-educated workers who would normally take these jobs. 
3. EVERYONE go to college?  merely makes the college degree less valuable: Many graduates will probably take on more student debt. More than 60 percent of those who graduated in the last five years say they will need more formal education to be successful.

In Prison Reform, Money Trumps Civil Rights

Michelle Alexander had an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times on Sunday, May 15th.

Michelle argues, rightly so, for a " a re-commitment to the movement-building work that was begun in the 1950s and 1960s and left unfinished."

.....Today, 2.3 million Americans are behind bars; the United States has the world’s highest rate of incarceration. Convictions for non-violent crimes and relatively minor drug offenses — mostly possession, not sale — have accounted for the bulk of the increase in the prison population since the mid-1980s. African-Americans are far more likely to get prison sentences for drug offenses than white offenders, even though studies have consistently shown that they are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites. 

Those who believe that righteous indignation and protest politics were appropriate in the struggle to end Jim Crow, but that something less will do as we seek to dismantle mass incarceration, fail to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge. If our nation were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s, we would have to release 4 out of 5 people behind bars. A million people employed by the criminal justice system could lose their jobs. Private prison companies would see their profits vanish. This system is now so deeply rooted in our social, political and economic structures that it is not going to fade away without a major shift in public consciousness.

Yes, some prison downsizing is likely to occur in the months and years to come [because of the current financial crisis]. But we ought not fool ourselves: we will not end mass incarceration without a re-commitment to the movement-building work that was begun in the 1950s and 1960s and left unfinished. A human rights nightmare is occurring on our watch. If we fail to rise to the challenge, and push past the politics of momentary interest convergence, future generations will judge us harshly.


Friday, May 6, 2011

T4SJ Thank an Educator

Thank-A-Teacher for Social Justice

 SFFS has nominated Linda Jordan of Mission High School in SFUSD for her amazingly successful work in getting African American high school students into college.  She has worked tirelessly and against the odds to create a curriculum for these students that others need to know about.

4th annual Thank-a-Teacher* for Social Justice
Friday May 13, 2011     6-10pm
DJ • Drinks • Community • Recognition

A celebration of teachers for social justice, nominated by peers and our community!  This event is a fundraiser for Teachers 4 Social Justice.
Bring a Teacher, Meet a Teacher, Come with a Teacher, Celebrate Teachers, Support Youth!! 

* "teacher" is being used in its most generic sense.

Asilomar Conference

Asilomar 60

SF Freedom School will be offering a workshop at this conference
From a plethora of choices, Participants choose to attend only ONE workshop whose sessions are Friday night, Saturday (10-4 pm) and Sunday morning.  The rest of the time is social, keynote speakers and special readings.  The food and lodging are excellent at the Asilomar state park just South of Monterey, along the 17 mile scenic vista.

The Curriculum Study Commission announces the 60th Asilomar Language Arts Conference, scheduled for September 23-25, 2011.

The Asilomar Conference for English teachers has been in existence for 60 years.  Keynote speakers over the years have include the likes of Elizabeth George, Tony Hillerman, Billy Collins, Dorothy Allison and Dave Eggars. This year the keynote speakers will be Mary Roach and Arturo Munoz Vasquez. To find out more about Asilomar 60 go to There you will find information on how to register for the conference and much more about about its history and contribution to the field of English education. Be prepared to tell your story; the story of you as a teacher, the story of your students, the story of what is happening in education today. Join us at Asilomar 60 and become a part of history.

CAAAE Conference

"Taking the Courageous Conversation to the Next Level: Pedagogies and Practices for Successfully Reaching African American Students – Models of Excellence"

June 29 – 30, 2011
Center for Educational Research at Stanford (CERAS), Stanford University, Stanford, California
sponsored by the California Alliance of African American Educators, Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education and University of California, Los Angeles - Center X/GSE&IS

NOTE:  For the past nine years, the California Alliance of African American Educators (CAAAE) has offered summer institutes featuring some of the best and brightest researchers and practitioners from throughout the United States. Visit for complete information. This tenth institute will be our final one. For the next ten years, the CAAAE plans to help districts, who send representatives to this year's institute, to apply the pedagogies and the practices that will help close the racial opportunity gap. This year's dynamic format is designed to signal that transition.

AUDIENCE: Teachers, administrators, professional developers, parents, support providers, school Board members, undergraduate and graduate students who work with African American students

COST: $300 (1 person – CAAAE financially current member rate; includes membership renewal from July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012); $350 (1 person – non-CAAAE member rate; includes a 1-year CAAAE new membership from July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2012). This fee covers continental breakfast and lunch for both days, all sessions, presentations and resource materials.

REGISTRATION: please visit for form, fill it out and mail it so it arrives by June 15, 2011.