"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.
View Kathy Emery, PhD's LinkedIn profileView Kathy Emery, PhD's profile

Monday, December 31, 2012

Humor is more Effective than Anger in Achieving Social Change

Bruce Hartford has argued that humor is more effective than anger.
Laughter and ridicule undermine authority and diminish its ability to compel obedience. You can weaken, unbalance, and ultimately overthrow the king quicker by laughing at him than by futilely screaming fury at him.
Below are excerpts from an article in the NYTimes about how Bassem Youssef is "weakening and unbalancing" the religious right in Egypt.  One can tell Youssef is effective because he has become a target himself.

December 30, 2012
For Liberals in Egypt, a Champion Who Quips

CAIRO — As a new Constitution engraves Islam ever more firmly into Egyptian law, a young comic’s escalating battle with a group of ultraconservative television sheiks has become an early skirmish over the application of Islamic law, or Shariah.

In the weeks leading up to the referendum over the Islamist-backed charter, sheiks hosting Islamist variations on “The 700 Club” have spent weeks attacking the protesters who clogged Cairo’s streets, calling them perverts, drug users, paid thugs and Christians. When a 38-year-old television comedian, Bassem Youssef, began mocking the sheiks for their outlandish allegations, they turned on him, too, accusing him of sexual immorality and even poor hygiene.

“Bassem Zipper,” one called him, “the varmint.” Mr. Youssef “doesn’t know how to wash after he uses the bathroom,” another one said.

Far from offended, Mr. Youssef replayed clips of their attacks. “To those who tell me, ‘You insult the sheiks and scholars,’ I say, ‘The equation is very simple,’ ” he told his audience. “ ‘Just like you don’t consider us Muslims, to us, you’re not sheiks or scholars.’ ” ....

....during his war of words with the sheiks, young men at street cafes in poor neighborhoods far from Cairo could be seen watching his show and shaking with laughter. ...

“He makes a point of saying, ‘We are reclaiming Islam. Islam belongs to us and not you. As Muslims we are offended by what you are saying, so we are defending our religion by ridiculing you,’ ” said Hossam Bahgat, the executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. ....

“You could write a Ph.D. dissertation on the contradictions in Salafi discourse, or I could write a human rights report about its bigoted rhetoric,” Mr. Bahgat added, “but none of this is half as effective as one of Bassem’s weekly shows.” ....

....Another Salafi sheik, apparently speaking in a mosque, urged his listeners to recapture Tahrir Square from protesters. “No matter who dies and no matter who’s killed,” he said. “And the rule is well known: our dead are in heaven, and their dead are in hell.”

“So to become a martyr, you need apply for the party’s ID card?” Mr. Youssef asked, displaying a membership card for the Brotherhood’s political arm. “Is everyone going to tailor the path to paradise to their own measurements?”

Soon the sheiks were aiming their fury mainly at Mr. Youssef.
Sheik Khaled Abdullah, another television preacher, lashed out at Mr. Youssef’s audience, calling them “paid kids from downtown.” Nabih el-Wahsh, a lawyer and frequent guest on Salafi networks, called the same viewers “a bunch of gays and hermaphrodites.”

.......But after reprimands for reducing Islam to an exchange of insults with a late-night comic, Mr. Abdullah last week professed a change of heart. He asked Mr. Youssef’s forgiveness for being “tough on him.” ....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival

  Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival

Martin Luther King Jr. weekend  January 18-20, 2013  

 IAM Local 1781 Hall  1511 Rollins Rd., Burlingame, CA

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s contribution to the civil rights and labor movements.  A weekend of solidarity in an era of war, racism, and hard times.

Registration: $75 for the full weekend, $15 Friday night, $35 Saturday only, $60 Saturday-Sunday, $10 single workshop, $15-30 sliding scale for the concert
No one turned away for lack of funds.
Scholarship funds available for attendees under age 30- application form here.

Hotel: Crowne Plaza, 1177 Airport Blvd Burlingame, CA (650) 342-9200
Call hotel directly and ask for the Western Workers Labor Heritage Festival rate
$89 Festival rate, $10 each for a third or fourth person in a room with two double beds
Overnight Parking $18

YouTube of previous festival video highlights here.
27th Annual Festival
Tentative Schedule of Events

Friday, January 18
6 pm Registration opens
7-10 pm Solidarity Circle (Machinists, Main Hall)
Featured performer: Lyn Marie Smith, Detroit Motown Labor Diva
Song, poetry, and story swap

Saturday, January 19
9-10 am
Muffins, juice, coffee available – donations please; informal song swap/arts exchange


Occupy Songs, with Hali Hammer and Bobbie Rabinowitz (10-11)
“We Were There” with Bev Grant (11-12)
MoTown Labor Music, with Lyn Marie Smith
Labor Organizing (Eleanor Roosevelt, Rose Schneiderman) with Brigid O’Farrell

Film: "Walkout," directed by Moctezuma Esparza, 115 min. A school boycott by Chicano students in Los Angeles protesting their unfair treatment.

12:00 – 1:00 pm
– Sandwiches and salad available at a reasonable price

1:15 – 1:45 pm
Featured Performers: La Peña Community Chorus

2:00-3:30 pm Workshops
“Telling Stories Through Art” with Eric Drooker
“Politics of Catastrophism” panel with Sasha Lilley, Jim Davis, and Eddie Yuen
“Latino Worker Songs” with Jose Luis Orozco

Film: "Our Right to Sing," by Carolina Fuentes, 45 min.  Documentary of the Popular Resistance in El Salvador, with talk by Fuentes and questions afterward.

3:45-5:15 pm

Jazz workshop with Avotcja
“Documenting Communities Standing Up Against Hatred: Not In Our Town” with Patrice O’Neill
Theater workshop with James Tracy and others to be announced

Film: “Meeting Room," by Jim Davis and Brian Gray. A social history of the Concerned Parents Against Drugs movement in Dublin. Davis and Jai Jai Noir also featured in filmmakers' panel Sunday 10am

5:30-7:00 pm
– Hot meal available at a reasonable price

7-10 pm Arts Exchange (Machinists, Main Hall)
Featured performers: Bay Area Rockin’ Solidarity Labor Heritage Choir
Arts Exchange (song, poetry, and story swap)

Sunday, January 20
9:00-10:00 am
Muffins, juice, coffee available – donations please; informal songswap/arts exchange


“Post-Election Reflection” with Nina Fendel or Shelley Kessler
Independent filmmakers panel, with Jim Davis, Jai Jai Noir and others to be announced. Moderated by Mark Wright.

Film: "Shift Change," by Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young. 120 min. Cooperatives in Mondragon, Spain and the United States.

Noon – 1 pm
- Sandwiches and salad available at a reasonable price

1:30-2:30 pm (Machinists, Main Hall)
Mid-Day Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jimmy Collier, civil rights songs
Vukani Muwethu

3:00-4:45 pm
Practice for concert performance
(TWU Hall) Chorus group, directed by Lichi Fuentes

Films: 3:00-4:00:  "This Way Out, by Jai Jai Noir, a guide to starting a worker cooperative.
4: 00-5:25:  "Brother Outsider," 83 min.  Documentary about Bayard Rustin, gay civil rights leader in the 60's.
5-6 pm
– Hot meal available at reasonable price

7 pm
Benefit concert for workers in need
Elise Bryant, MC
Labor Arts Award presented to Nina Fendel
Performers to be announced

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

No "Back of the Bus" for Women of the Wall

An interesting manifestation of the continuing influence of the Southern Freedom Movement.  In this case, the reference to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Freedom Rides.

The Women of the Wall are engaging in civil disobedience (disobeying and "unjust law") in order to move the debate beyond  
"talking about who’s going to take care of the air-conditioning in the back of the bus."

From the New York Times today:
Israel to Review Curbs on Women’s Prayer at Western Wall

JERUSALEM — Amid outrage across the Jewish diaspora over a flurry of recent arrests of women seeking to pray at the Western Wall with ritual garments in defiance of Israeli law, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency, to study the issue and suggest ways to make the site more accommodating to all Jews.

The move comes after more than two decades of civil disobedience by a group called Women of the Wall against regulations, legislation and a 2003 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that allow for gender division at the wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, and prohibit women from carrying a Torah or wearing prayer shawls there.
.....Critics, particularly leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements in the United States, complain that the government’s recent aggressive enforcement of restrictions at the wall has turned a national monument into an ultra-Orthodox synagogue. ...

Mr. Sharansky. . .  and Mr. Dermer said the agenda would include improvements for Robinson’s Arch, a discrete area of the wall designated for coed prayer under the court ruling, and the easing of restrictions in the larger area known as the Western Wall plaza, along with the more sensitive questions regarding prayer at the main site. ...Anat Hoffman, the chairwoman of Women of the Wall, reacted with cautious optimism to Mr. Netanyahu’s initiative, but said it would not stop the Israel Religious Action Center, of which she is executive director, from filing a Supreme Court petition as soon as next week challenging the makeup of the heritage foundation’s board. ....

“It’s a good thing that after 24 years the highest echelons in Israel are actually paying attention to this rift that is breaking diaspora Jews from Israel,” she said. “The table that should run the Western Wall should have everyone who has an interest in the wall sitting around it.” ...

“If in the end what happens is that the Robinson’s Arch area will be run by the Jewish Agency instead of the antiquities department, then we’re talking about who’s going to take care of the air-conditioning in the back of the bus,” she said. “I don’t care about that. I don’t want to sit in the back of the bus. I want to dismantle the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.” ....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Latino Vote--Media, GOTV, and SEIU

From the NEW YORK TIMES today:
For Latino Groups, Grass-Roots Efforts Paid Off in Higher Number of Voters

MIAMI — On Election Day, President Obama got 71 percent of the Latino vote nationally....

....Hispanic television and grass-roots groups working together generated a civic campaign they called Ya Es Hora. Now Is the Time.

In countless households, Latinos tuned their television sets to Univision and heard Jorge Ramos, the host of “Al Punto,” the Spanish version of “Meet the Press,” discuss the candidates’ positions on issues critical to them. They switched on Spanish-language radio and heard myriad reasons their vote could spur change.

And if voters in some battleground areas needed a ride to the polls, television and radio stations owned by Entravision Communications, Univision’s largest affiliate, offered those, too.

The drumbeat lasted months.

Univision, which reaches 96 percent of all Hispanic households; Telemundo, the second-largest network; and their affiliates ran information about the election and the issues regularly. And not just on newscasts, but also on their most popular news programs. They sponsored hundreds of public service announcements, giving Latinos local information on where to register and vote. The effort, by and large, was nonpartisan.

“I invite you to join me, so they can’t say Latinos don’t care what happens to this country,” Natalie Perez, a Univision news anchor for WVEA-TV in the Tampa Bay area, said in a public service announcement, as she asked viewers to join her at a local voter registration drive.

The television stations even staffed phone banks so people could inquire about finding their precincts or taking the correct form of identification.
..... Ben Monterroso, the executive director of Mi Familia Vota, a large nonpartisan voter education group that worked closely this year with the networks. “The Spanish media became one of the most informative instruments in our community.”

....Beginning in 2006, the networks and advocacy groups rolled out similar smaller efforts to encourage citizenship and explain the importance of the census.

..... An estimated 12.5 million Latinos voted in 2012, 1.8 million more than in 2008.

....Aggressive fund-raising also played a role, elevating Latino influence in the corridors of power. Prominent Latinos like Eva Longoria, the actress; Henry R. Muñoz III, a Texas architect; and Andrés W. López, a Puerto Rican lawyer, led the national effort to raise money for Mr. Obama. The Futuro Fund, the Hispanic outreach and fund-raising committee for Mr. Obama’s campaign, raised $30 million, significantly more than in 2008.

“All this earns us not just respect from the highest levels of the campaign, but also a seat at the table going forward,” said Mr. López, the national chairman of the Futuro Fund and an Obama campaign adviser.

.....Entravision took the television spotlight one step further, moving out of the studio and onto the street, by working with Mi Familia Vota and giving viewers rides to the polls during early voting and on Election Day.

......Latino leaders said their power in the voting booth was already being felt in Washington. The Dream Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young immigrants, and immigration changes are now high priorities.

If lawmakers need additional prodding, Latinos like to remind them that in the next 20 years, 50,000 Latinos will turn 18 — voting age — every single month.

“The way we describe it is we are getting ready for 2014 so we can start rewarding our friends and punishing those that get in the way,” Mr. Monterroso said.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Buy Nothing Day

Adbusters, the people who financed the first Occupy Wall Street, has been promoting "Buy Nothing Day" since 1992. Below their ad are excerpts from today's NY Times article indicating that momentum is picking up for a change in our hyper consumer culture/economy. The tensions are clear, in both the video and in the article, between (1) the understanding that over-consumption is bad for the environment, community and individual health and (2) that our economy depends on over-consumption.

Where Pilgrims Landed, Thanksgiving Is Kept at Table, Not Mall
FLOAT TITLE: "America is still the land of plenty."
PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Here in the birthplace of Thanksgiving, where the Pilgrims first gave thanks in 1621 for their harvest and their survival, some residents are giving thanks this year for something else: the Colonial-era blue laws that prevent retailers from opening their doors on the fourth Thursday of November.....

Some of the nation’s biggest retailers — Sears, Target and Toys “R” Us among them — announced this month that they would be moving up their predawn Black Friday door-buster sales to Thanksgiving Day or moving up their existing Thanksgiving sales even earlier on Thursday. Walmart, which has already been open on Thanksgiving for many years, is advancing its bargain specials to 8 p.m. Thursday from 10 p.m. But in Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the stores will sit dark until the wee hours of Friday. Even Walmart will not open in Maine until just after midnight Friday or in Massachusetts or Rhode Island until 1 a.m.

Nationwide, a protest is developing against Thanksgiving Day sales. Workers at some stores have threatened to strike, saying the holiday openings were disrupting their family time. Online petitions have drawn hundreds of thousands of signatures protesting the move. The stores say that many of their workers have volunteered to work on the holiday, when they will get extra pay, and that consumers wanted to shop early. It is not yet clear what effect the protests might have.....

“Leave the holidays alone,” said Carole A. Maiona, 72, a retired medical records worker, as her husband wheeled a shopping cart out of the store the other day. “The family should be together and not out shopping and supplying Walmart or whoever with more money.”

William Lorenzo, 35, who serves in the Coast Guard, said Thanksgiving sales were unfair to employees. “It’s not very American to make these people work on a holiday,” he said, packing his groceries into his van. His wife, Nicole, 33, agreed — to a point. She confessed that she went shopping last year at 5 a.m. on Black Friday. “I don’t go just to go,” she said. “But if I can get a better deal — we’re a family of five, one income — if I can get a deal, I’ll get the deal.”

Monday, November 19, 2012

Protesting Walmart

Unionizing Walmart workers has been impossible so far because of the company's effective retaliatory tactics and weak labor laws. But past efforts appear to not have been made in vain. During the last ten years of retaliation and poor conditions, Walmart has angered and alienated enough people who are willing, in this new era of occupy, to join a coalition of groups inside and outside of Walmart that obviates Walmart's tactics of retaliation.

From the New York Times today:
The food and commercial workers union has made Wal-Mart a target because the company has helped put many unionized supermarkets out of business and helped push down wages at many competitors. Wal-Mart...has vigorously resisted unionization drives, closing a store in Canada after workers there voted to unionize and arranging to have outside suppliers provide prepackaged meat after the butchers at a store in Texas voted to unionize in 2000.

The food workers union has been spending heavily on this push, paying more than $50,000 for hotel rooms near Wal-Mart’s headquarters last year when it sent employees and representatives to company events, according to a filing with the Labor Department.
In this week’s planned events, OUR Walmart, which stands for Organization United for Respect at Walmart, is enlisting a broad range of allies, arranging fliers and letters that community, church and civil rights groups can use to publicize the Black Friday protest. OUR Walmart has even prepared remarks that it is suggesting members of the clergy might use in prayer, “to call upon the world’s largest corporation to treats its workers with justice and fairness.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

School Counselor Conference at Stanford

I will be giving a workshop at this conference (described below)
You Can Fight City Hall: How Everyday People, Acting Together, Change Society. Kathy Emery, San Francisco State University.

What can one individual do to make change? Quite a lot, actually. The first step towards empowerment is realizing that there are many roles from which to choose in order to contribute to building a movement for social justice -- and that you must choose the role that suits you. The second step is to understand where we are in history. This session will allow participants to explore the Civil Rights Movement as a model of activism, evaluate the Occupy Movement and discuss the implications for individual action today

The H.B. McDaniel Foundation, Inc. and The California Association of School Counselors, Inc. have partnered to provide a day of professional development opportunities at Stanford University

November 10, 2012, 9 - 4 pm

Spend a day on the spectacular campus of famed Stanford University in Palo Alto where presenters from UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, University of San Diego, Saint Mary's College of California, as well as school counselors and community organizations within the greater East Bay will provide information on the following topics:
  • Job-Seeking Strategies
  • Working With Homeless Youth
  • School Reform and Social Justice
  • Tips for Counseling Male Students
  • Study Abroad
  • Addressing Teen Dating Violence from a Strengths-Based Approach
  • Fostering Leadership Roles for Students
  • Access to Higher Education
  • Support for Undocumented Students
  • Cross-Cultural Counseling Literacy
  • Effective Communication
  • Prevention/Intervention Strategies for At-Risk Students
  • Self-Care for Counselors
  • Substance Abuse
And more!



SESSION 1: 9:00 AM – 10:15 AM
SESSION 2: 10:30 AM – 11:45 AM
LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:45 AM – 1:15 PM
SESSION 3: 1:15 PM – 2:30 PM
SESSION 4: 2:45 PM – 4:00 PM


Thursday, November 1, 2012

FILM SCREENING: The Untold Story of Latino in America

Monday, November 12 and Tuesday, November 13:

Harvest of Empire – the film: The Untold Story of Latino in America

The new feature-length documentary made from the recent book by Juan González.
Hosted by Wendy Thompson-Marquez, Miguel Gavilan Molina & Davey D
Monday, November 12 2012 – 2 screenings: 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm
Brava Theater
2781 24th St, San Francisco
or Modern Times Books, Marcus Books, Global Exchange Store ($12 door)
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 – 3 screenings: 4:15 pm, 7:00 pm, 9:30 pm
Grand Lake Theater
3200 Grand Avenue, Oakland
or Pegasus Books (3 locations), Marcus Books, Mrs. Dalloway’s, Moe’s Books, Walden Pond, DIESEL a Bookstore ($12 door)  
Information:    KPFA benefit
While immigration is one of America’s most fiercely controversial issues, little is understood about the growing Latino presence in the U.S. This excellent new documentary reveals the direct correlation between centuries of U.S. armed intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean and today’s immigration crisis. Adapted from the popular new book written by award-winning journalist Juan González of radio and television’s Democracy Now!, the film by Wendy Thompson-Marquez and Eduardo López – in conjunction with director Peter Getzels and editor Catherine Shields – vigorously details the social conditions and U.S. government actions (overt and covert) that led inexorably to millions of Latino families to flee their homelands, triggering an unprecedented migration that is transforming America’s cultural and economic landscape.   
In addition to rare archival material, this film features interviews with Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Junot Diaz, Mexican historian Lorenzo Meyer, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, poet Martín Espada, journalists Maria Hinojosa and Geraldo Rivera, historian and broadcast journalist Juan González, and film producer Wendy Thompson-Marquez.
In person:
Wendy Thompson-Marquez is the President and CEO of the Onyx Media Group and EVS Communications, Inc. In 2004 she was honored by the National Conference for Community and Justice with the Media and Community Service Award. Currently she is a board member of Latino Public Broadcasting, the Washington Performing Arts Society, and the Community Foundation in D.C.
Miguel Gavilan Molina, a longtime activist, is the Executive Producer of KPFA Radio’s La Onda Bajita, and Associate Producer of Flashpoints.
Davey D, Popular Hip Hop journalist and media activist, is the Executive Producer of KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio.
Co-Sponsoring Organizations (in alphabetical order): 67 Sueños, Bay Area CISPES, BuildOn, Colectivo Cinema Errante, El Mensajero Newspaper, El Tecolote Newspaper, Global Exchange, Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (CLUE-CA), La Peña Cultural Center, Mission Cultural Center, Pájaro Latinoamericano – KPOO, Radio Bilingue, Radio Indigena, School of Americas Watch (East Bay + San Francisco)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Education Reform Movement?

Below is another attempt to get some kind of traction against high stakes testing.  There is certainly value in using such a resolution to find out where the consensus is regarding high stakes testing.  But as long as we are reacting to another's agenda (in this case, the Business Roundtable's), we can work on gaining consensus on ours. What is our vision of what education should look like?  Certainly not what it was pre 1990.  Public schools continue to sort and socialize, as they have been designed to do from the beginning.  Education, when it happens, does so in spite of the structure and pedagogy of the public (and private) schools.

Help Build the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing campaign!
The Resolution campaign continued to gain strength over the summer. We now have more than 430 organizations and 13,000 individuals!  Our work has earned national attention, including from the New York Times, Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
In Florida, school boards in several of the state's largest districts and the state PTA endorsed it, and the Florida State School Board Association passed a parallel resolution. More than 830 Texas school boards representing 88 percent of the state’s children have signed a similar resolution. School boards in Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia have also endorsed it. PTA’s and PTO’s and many other kinds of groups have also signed on. 

With outreach in additional states, we'll have an even stronger impact! Getting more organizations to endorse is an essential part of this campaign. Now that school is back in session, it is a good time get more signers and increase attention to this issue.
Your organization’s help is needed to build testing reform clout. You can expand the campaign with any or all of these actions:
  • Put a link to the Resolution signature page on your website and/or in your newsletter: (
  • Inform local media of your endorsement, perhaps in a letter to the editor, such as the samples at
  • Write/adapt an op-ed for your local paper (see sample at the above link).
  • Reach out to allied organizations in your community, region or state, and encourage them to sign on.
  • Organize a public meeting in your community to discuss testing and the Resolution campaign, with an eye on what to do to overhaul assessment policies.
Thanks again for your help! If you have questions or suggestions for additional actions to advance the Resolution, please contact Monty Neill at (617) 477-9792 or
The Sponsoring Committee for the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sudan v Southern Freedom Movement

From the Sudan Tribune

September 26, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Is there a Revolution on the horizon in Sudan? On the evening of June 16th 2012, the voices of a small group of female students from Khartoum University’s Barracks dorms broke out in unison, chanting against the ruling National Congress Party (NCP); setting off a chain of events .....

A significant number of new actors have joined the political movement further broadening the base from being exclusively just activists and traditional groups.

The recent protests attracted the attention of the world’s media and the sympathy of international civil society – and this has helped in highlighting the democratic movements in Sudan and prompted analysts to rethink their approach regarding the political situation in the country.

A new generation of leaders has emerged as a result of the protest movement at both the national and regional levels. This can be viewed as nothing less than a positive step for the future of Sudan’s political scene.

Awareness and the need to ’rebuild’ unions was another positive step; as a result, activists went on to form new, more active professional unions and syndicates covering doctors, lawyers, teachers and journalists....

The protests only served to further emphasize and bring about divisions and rifts within the ruling regime and the system it has put in place. Voices within the government and party began to question whether it’s possible to retain complete power in the near future and already exit plans and steps are being made.

Why is Sudan Not There Yet?

Lack of Leadership: In all its years of rule, the NCP has systematically and efficiently worked on demolishing the political and trade unions which in the past were the heart and base of Sudanese political activism; and had a leading and well respected position in the streets of Sudan in regards to it answering the people’s demands and interests. As such there is a vacuum of leadership and an inability to bridge this gap.

1. At the political level, with a lot of the opposition parties being based abroad has led to a ’break down’ between their leadership and the parties’ support base.....

2. The politicization of the mandatory civil service has also played a big part in dismantling state institutions that brought together professionals from various sectors resulting in the breaking of links of association between them.

3. The new demographic in the country is a factor as the doubling of the urban population in relation to the rural rising from 20% in 1989 to more than 40% in 2011. This drastic change has caused the rural areas to be void of traditional leaders and cities populated with people who have no social or cultural links, therefore a limited sense of camaraderie and kinship ties....
 A Successful Social Movement = The coordination of a variety of membership organizations that effect a fundamental paradigm shift.....

To be strategic, an action needs to be designed to answer, at least, the following questions:
1. Will it dramatize the injustice you want to change?
2. Is it designed to gain the sympathy of a wider audience (and do you have a variety of tasks ready to assign for the expected number of recruits who will want to join when they see or hear about your action?)
3. Is your action part of a larger, long-range plan?

While the four major organizations - NAACP, CORE, SCLC, and SNCC - formed the basic infrastructure of the movement, they were supported by a variety of other important membership organizations both national and local in scope -- religious, labor, lawyers, doctors, civil rights and so forth...too many to name here.

Kennedy’s election in 1960 and his public commitment to spreading “Freedom” throughout the world made the Federal government extremely vulnerable to direct action like Sit Ins and Freedom Rides that exposed the government’s hypocrisy to the world.

.Examples of a few of the thousands of local leaders that were the backbone of the movement:
  • Birmingham: Fred Shuttlesworth (Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights) . . .
  • Montgomery, AL: Jo Ann Robinson (Women’s Political Council); E.D. Nixon; Rosa Parks; Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr.. . . .
  • Johns Island, SC: Bernice Robinson; Esau Jenkins
  • various Mississippi counties: Fannie Lou Hamer; Endesha Ida Mai Holland; Sam Block; Wazir Peacock. . . .
  • Nashville, TN: Diane Nash; James Bevel; John Lewis; Bernard Lafayette. . . . 

 The NAACP had local offices mostly in the North until the 1930s when James Weldon Johnson created his Southern Empire -- local NAACP chapters in the South.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What A Chicago Teacher Learned from the Strike

Pretty Interesting!

Teaching for Social Justice Weekend Conference in SF

Teaching Toward Justice: A Weekend of Building Solidarity and Strengthening a Movement
Events surrounding the Teaching for Social Justice annual educator's conference on Oct 6 in San Francisco, CA
Tough Times, Resistance and Real Talk: Into the Political Economy of Race, Place & School with David Stovall
Friday Oct 5, 7:30pm at I-SEEED (Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational and Environmental Design), 1625 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94612
David Stovall, Ph.D.  is Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC).  His scholarship investigates four areas 1) Critical Race Theory, 2) concepts of social justice in education, 3) the relationship between housing and education, and 4) the relationship between schools and community stakeholders. In the attempt to bring theory to action, he has spent the last ten years working with community organizations and schools to develop curriculum that address issues of social justice. 
Sponsors: Urban Education & Social Justice (UESJ)  & the International and Multicultural Education (IME) Department at the University of San Francisco, California NAME, Center for Urban Schools and Partnerships (CUSP), Teachers 4 Social Justice & the People’s Education Movement
This event is free and open to the public, donations will be accepted for the Raza Defense Fund

Teaching for Social Justice: Acts of Courage and Resistance
Saturday, October 6th, 2012 at Mission High School, 9am-5pm, 3750 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114
Register at:
Each year hundreds of educators both locally and nationally gather to network, explore empowering learning environments and develop a professional learning community.  We are excited to celebrate 12 years of building grassroots, peer-led professional development opportunities!
Keynote Speaker: Sean Arce, former director of Tuscon Unified’s Mexican-American Studies Program and Dr. Sonia Nieto, author of The Light In Their Eyes, Creating Multicultural Learning Communities.

Precious Knowledge: film on the struggle for Ethnic Studies in Arizona, with Sean Arce and Curtis Acosta as special guests
Saturday, October 6th, 2012 7pm-9pm 
Presentation Theater, Education Building, University of San Francisco
2350 Turk Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118
Sponsored by the Urban Ed and Social Justice Cohort at University of San Francisco
Arizona lawmakers believe Tucson High School teachers are teaching victimization, racism, and revolution in their Ethnic Studies classes. Meanwhile Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies Department have data showing that almost 93% of their students, on average, graduate from high school and 82% attend college.
PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE, the movie, illustrates an epic civil rights battle as brave students and teachers battle with lawmakers and public opinion in an effort to keep their classes alive.

Ethnic Studies People’s Movement Assembly
Sunday, October 7th, 2012 9:30am-12:30pm
SF Community School - 125 Excelsior Street, San Francisco, CA 94112
It is time for action! As recent events in Tucson have proven, the struggle for Ethnic Studies is alive throughout the nation. This assembly will be a collaborative and democratic process that will be used to create a plan of action, culminating in a national assembly at Free Minds, Free People 2013. It is time to develop a regional and national strategy for K-12 Ethnic Studies nationwide together. All levels of experience and expertise are welcome!
Assembly Co-sponsors
Association of Raza Educators
Association of Mexican American Educators
Napa Valley Ethnic Studies Advocates
Pico Youth and Family Center
Raza Studies Now
Rethinking Schools
Save Ethnic Studies
Teachers 4 Social Justice
Tucson Freedom National Network

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicago Teachers' Strike Redux - lessons to be learned (hopefully)

The Chicago Teachers Delegate Assembly has called off the strike (the members still have to vote on it but that seems to be pro forma). The deal that was struck was, not surprisingly, a compromise. The deal, if accepted will
give annual raises to teachers, lengthen the school day and allow teachers to be evaluated, in part, with student test scores. The school system would also aim to guide laid-off teachers with strong ratings into at least half of any new job openings in the schools. NYTIMES
Teachers, by law, have been allowed to organize collectively only around economic issues.  That legal requirement has made it very difficult for teachers to oppose the implementation of high stakes testing (high stakes attached to a standardized test score) that began in the 1990's.  For the last twenty years, students have been suffering under the onslaught of state standards, state tests and sanctions (especially the high school exit exams which have dramatically increased drop outs.)  Teachers are now the DIRECT targets of the corporate business agenda (hence the bipartisan nature of the use of standardized tests to impose educational reform) in that CEO's want to attach test scores to teacher evaluation.  Most district unions have caved in to the pressure of money power (it's ability to use the media and foundation money to put teachers on the defensive).

The Chicago teachers tried to draw a line in the sand but are still divided amongst themselves and have yet to build a solid coalition with parents.
Pressure mounted in recent days as union leaders grappled with a complicated equation: how to find agreement among hundreds of delegates with vastly different views and concerns, while balancing the risk of losing public support as the strike stretched on.
By Tuesday, there were signs that union leaders realized they needed to move quickly. The union issued a leaflet aimed at maintaining patience from Chicagoans, which read, in part, “We would like to express our profound gratitude for your support in our fight for quality public education and a fair contract.” (same NYTimes article as above).
Until local teacher leaders can forge a consensus around issues that they have in common with the parents of their students, money power will prevail.  Mike Miller (a civil rights veteran among other credentials) has written a very good article explaining the importance of organizing around "lowest common denominator issues."

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jail no Bail -- the pros and cons of the tactic

From India/Real Time

Although the Bombay High Court granted him bail Tuesday, Mr. Trivedi refused to exit prison demanding that sedition charges against him be dropped, according to Alok Dixit, a close aide and business partner of the free speech activist.

From India/RealTime (A WSJ publication?)

Mr. Trivedi’s detention sparked outrage among many in India. Markandey Katju, head of the Press Council of India, the country’s main media self-regulatory body, spoke out strongly against Mr. Trivedi’s detention, arguing it is illegal.

One of the most important strategic developments during the Southern Freedom Movement was the idea of "jail not bail."  As Bruce Hartford explains on the Timeline:

At the October 1960 SNCC strategy conference in Atlanta, some activists argue for "Jail-No-Bail" tactics. They take a Gandhian position that paying bail or fines indicates acceptance of an immoral system and validates their own arrests. And by serving their sentences, they dramatize the injustice, intensify the struggle, and gain additional media coverage. There is also a practical component to "Jail-No-Bail." The Movement has little money and most southern Blacks are poor. It is hard to scrape up bail money, and sit-in struggles are faltering — not from lack of volunteers to risk arrest — but from lack of money to bail them out. Moreover, paying fines provides the cops with financial resources that are then used to continue suppressing the freedom struggle. By refusing bail, they render meaningless the no-money-for-bail barrier and by serving time they put financial pressure on local authorities who have to pay the costs of incarcerating them. . . .

. . The "Jail-No-Bail" tactic re-energizes the Rock Hill movement, 300 Blacks attend a mass meeting, and picket lines grow to over 100 protesters. The media resumes covering the demonstrations, including full-page spreads in the Baltimore Afro-American. More SNCC reinforcements arrive from Nashville on February 12 for a weekend of direct action culminating in a Sunday motorcade of 600 people to York County Prison Farm. [BUT] . . . it is not enough to force Rock Hill to desegregate. As exhaustion begins to sap the Rock Hill protests, Gaither proposes a new idea to push the struggle forward — a Freedom Ride through Rock Hill and other states of the Deep South. . . .
There are a number of reasons for "Jail-No-Bail" becoming the strategy of last resort [in the Southern Freedom Movement]: .........
  • ....Drama and media coverage become less important than broad participation and stubborn, long-haul determination.
  • ....organizers and community leaders have to be out in the community organizing and leading — not sitting in jail.
  • ....Mass movements have to include adults as well as students. But adults have jobs to keep and children to care for, so they cannot afford to remain in jail
  • ....[When the movement enters the Deep South,] It is simply too risky to leave anyone in jail if there is any way to get them out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chicago Teachers' Strike

In reading the New York Times' editorial and articles on the Chicago Teacher's strike, I was particularly struck by the following contradiction:
  • The lead editorial argued: "What stands out about this strike, however, is that the differences between the two sides were not particularly vast, which means that this strike was unnecessary."
  • The article analysing the dispute, however, had the following as it's second paragraph: " At stake are profound policy questions about how teachers should be granted tenure, promoted or fired, as well as the place standardized tests will have in the lives of elementary and high school students."
Either the editors don't read the articles in their own paper or don't believe that "vast" and "profound" are synonyms.

The NYT Editors argue that since "half the states" already require teachers to be evaluated (to varying degrees) by standardized test scores, the Chicago teachers are fighting against the historical trend.  In other words, this kind of evaluation is foretold -- it is written, so stop fighting against it UNNECESSARILY!

It is this very argument that bothers the likes of Civil Rights Veterans like Bruce Hartford.  One of Bruce's favorite quotations is from Bayard Rustin to whom Bruce attributes the following: "History is not an accident, it is a choice."  In a short essay, A Hundred Years of Nonviolent, Bruce provides evidence to support Rustin's claim.

Rustin was expressing a sentiment that has long been understood by all those who fight against tyranny.  For example, Frederick Douglass' famously argued that "If there is no struggle there is no progress....Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
“Let me give you a word on the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. If there is no struggle there is no progress. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to — and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
—Frederick Douglass, “The Significance of Emancipation in the West Indies”
(August 3, 1857)
Employers and school districts have been using standardized tests to sort the pool of workers for over a hundred years.  Only since 1989, however, have business leaders wanted to attach "high stakes" to these scores.  Teachers conceded to focusing their teaching to the tests during the last 20 years.  When I was trying to organize teachers, parents and students against the implementation of High Stakes Testing in 2000, the vast majority of teachers didn't feel they could stop the implementation of that policy and gave in.  Now, they are upset that the test scores are being applied to them and "half the states" have forced concessions from teachers.  Chicago teachers have decided to draw a line in the sand saying enough is enough.  This may inspire teachers in other cities to join in pushing back.  But this will only happen successfully if teachers can form coalitions with parents by agreeing to a new vision of what the public schools should be all about.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Sex Strike in order to distinguish between Togo and the Congo!

 Togo's opposition coalition is having trouble gaining the sympathy and support of the outside world, which apparently is needed to overthrow their dictator.  Note the conclusion of the article below: "... this time, nobody mistook Togo for Congo."

Note also the classic escalation of tactics: negotiations, demonstrations, more negotiations, fasting and prayer, no more negotiations, sex strike.  The last finally garnering the attention of the international media.  But, can the Women's Collective leverage the sympathy of the world, or perhaps merely its current curiosity into real pressure on the dictator?  Is it the right historical moment?  The next few months will reveal whether that will happen or not.

Published in the Guardian by the Let's Save Togo Women's Collective:
Women's collective leader Isabelle Ameganvi
Togo is a republic only by name. It has been ruled with an iron fist by the Gnassingbé family since 1963 following the assassination of Sylvanus Olympio, the father of Togo's independence. The regime has been supported by the army ever since and in violation of constitutional provisions, Faure Gnassingbé was installed in power by army generals after his father, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, died in February 2005 after 38 years in power. . . . [T]he approach of parliamentary elections next October [and] the government's delaying tactics to evade pro-democratic reforms have exacerbated a protest movement countrywide...

...This is why Let's Save Togo's women's collective have called for the women of Togo to go on a week-long sex strike in order to press for Gnassingbe's resignation.

.....What are our demands? We asked for the release of those who have been arbitrarily arrested and held in appalling conditions in overcrowded prisons following peaceful demonstrations organised by our Collective. We also want to awaken the national and international community to our plight – too often, they pretend not to see Togo's inexorable descent into hell. And since negotiations are impossible at this point, we demand Gnassingbé's departure.

How will a sex strike help? We have chosen this weapon after exhausting all imaginable peaceful remedies. The Collective has consistently hit a wall and a regime that did not let go. We called for abstinence after having called for fasting and prayer because it was clear that our mobilisation was soon to take a decisive turn. And at this stage, we can modestly give thanks to God, for divine providence is already at work. Last week men of goodwill, including clergymen, woke up and assured us that they would get involved to search for a solution to the current political crisis. Their involvement led to the release of all those arrested.

While it is true that a "week of abstinence, fasting and prayer" would not have had the same media impact as our sex strike, the worldwide echo that the initiative sparked was totally unexpected. Suddenly, all newspapers from Greenland to Australia, Japan and Senegal, wanted to know about Togo's plight: it must have been bad, they wondered, for women to be driven to that extreme. Believe us, this time, nobody mistook Togo for Congo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pussy Riot -- Strategic? (nonviolent direct action)

Not all nonviolent resistance (NVR) is equal.  To be effective (that is, grow the movement) , NVR should be designed to do any of the following (preferable all three simultaneously):
  • dramatize an injustice.
  • to educate and/or
  • gain the sympathy of a wider audience
This article (excerpts cut and pasted below) seems to suggest that the arrest and trial of the punk rock band Pussy Riot may have been (unwittingly?) strategic!!!  or not!?
While attracting publicity to Pussy Riot’s cause, the action may have also given the opposition movement new energy by drawing a considerable number of new people to get involved in Russian politics

Russian opposition looks to move forward after Pussy Riot trial
by Anna Derinova | August 23, 2012

...there has been little discussion of their impact on the larger opposition movement, which has grown steadily from social media sites to massive street protests in recent months. While many Russians were outraged by the Soviet-era trial and its harsh verdict, Pussy Riot’s provocative action still remains a point of contention.

.... [Pussy Riot] stand against the discrimination of sexual minorities and the anti-gay law excluding displays of homosexuality that could supposedly influence children; the general dysfunction of the education and healthcare systems; and the gradual secularization of the Church through its businesslike behavior.

.....approximately 44 percent of respondents tended to support the trial against Pussy Riot and considered it quite reasonable, while 17 percent did not.
....The so-called “punk prayer” and the government’s reaction have divided the public into two irreconcilable camps, either fearlessly supporting the young feminists or furiously accusing them.

.....While attracting publicity to Pussy Riot’s cause, the action may have also given the opposition movement new energy by drawing a considerable number of new people to get involved in Russian politics. On Saturday, August 18 — the day after the verdict was announced — a March for Democracy was held in Moscow, in which hundreds of people turned out to commemorate the nonviolent defeat of a coup d’état that hastened the 1991 Soviet collapse...Next comes September 15....

Whether or not the fallout from the Pussy Riot trial will help these efforts remains to be seen. As the eminent sociologist Olga Kryshtanovskaya recently said, “We need some more fuel to light the fire, but Pussy Riot may have harmed the opposition by taking away some of its moral high ground.”