"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

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sit-In at City College! And so it begins?

 From: Save CCSF <>
Date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 9:13 PM
......nearly fifty participants have held the space in the [Ocean Campus] admin building for a solid seven and a half hours, and will be holding the building until the morning!
If people want to stop by for the night or just show their support and share their story about city college, feel free to come to the administration building, Conlan Hall, at the Ocean Campus.
Students Demand that Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman:
  1. Call on the Board of Trustees to reverse all cuts to classes, services, staff and faculty. Stop downsizing the mission of CCSF and promote equity.
  2. Organize town hall forums at all campuses so that students can have their voices heard. 
  3. Make a public statement calling for Prop A funds to be used for education as voters intended. Call on City Hall to give CCSF a bridge loan until Prop A and Prop 30 funds become available. 
  4. Speak out against CCSF being put on “Show Cause” without prior sanction. Call on the Department of Education to take action to stop the ACCJC’s misuse of the accreditation process
Invite your friends to the event:
Contact us at if you would like to get involved in the movement! - #saveccsfnow -

Thursday, February 21, 2013
The chancellor's office says she will not meet protesters. We spoke with one of them a few minutes ago who told us they're deciding how long to stay in Conlan Hall.
(Copyright ©2013 KGO-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Direct Action in Bangladesh

From AlJazeera Feb 20, 2013
(demonstrations ignited by the announcement of life sentence for Abdul Quader Mollah--instead of a death sentence).

Dhaka, Bangladesh - Slogans, songs, poetry, and street theatre - the heady mix of culture and protest has given burgeoning demonstrations in downtown Dhaka a unique Bengali ambience. . . . protesters gathering in central Dhaka believe they are fighting for a return of liberalism and secularism - and death to alleged war criminals from decades past.

A slogan in Bengali has been frequently shouted at the busy Shahbagh Square to annonce that the area is now the epicentre for change in Bangladesh: “Tomar aamar thikana, Shahbagher Mohona” or "your address, my address, Shahbagh Square". Tens of thousands have gathered here in recent days demanding reform, and protesters believe the scenes are reminiscent of the uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
On February 5, one of Bangladesh’s two war crimes tribunals announced a life sentence for a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami group, Abdul Quader Mollah, who had been accused of mass murder and rape during the 1971 civil war.. . . .
“We now want the death penalty for all war criminals. We want a ban on the politics of religious fundamentalism. We want a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami,” says Imran H Sarker of the Bloggers and Online Activists Network, one of the leaders of the Shahbagh protest.
True to her pre-election pledge, Hasina’s government constituted two war crimes tribunals under the 1973 law - one that began work in 2010 and the other two years later. Besides Mollah, eight other leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and two of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are now on the dock, standing trial for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the 1971 war.
“At last, the nation feels some justice is being done. Nobody here wants these war criminals to get away lightly,” says Shahriar Kabir, whose organisation Committee for the Elimination of the Killers and Collaborators of 1971 have pushed for the tribunals since the mid-1990s, after democracy was restored in Bangladesh.
Lucky Akhtar, one of the main demonstration organisers, says there is more to the protests than just holding those to account for war crimes committed more than 40 years ago.  “The movement is led not by politicians but by those who feel concerned about Bangladesh’s future, those who want the country to return to the secular and liberal spirit of the Liberation War, those who believe in humanity, those who want Bangladesh to be distinctively its own self,” she says. . . .

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Successful Direct Action in Pakistan

From New York Times: (my emphasis  --  concrete demands made to people who can carry them out, with sit ins and symbolic demonstrations to force meetings and negotiations with people in power).

The government announced a security operation against sectarian death squads in the western city of Quetta on Tuesday, four days after a sectarian bombing killed at least 89 people and led to unusually sharp criticism of the powerful military and its intelligence agencies.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf vowed to target the extremists behind Saturday’s bombing.....

On Tuesday evening, following talks with government officials, Hazara leaders called off countrywide protests that highlighted the failure of Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities to stem the rising tide of sectarian bloodshed.

Grieving Hazaras, who had demonstrated in the streets of Quetta beside the coffins of bombing victims, agreed to abandon the symbolically powerful protest and bury their dead.

But participants in the Quetta sit-in and other cities refused to end their protest, continuing to demand that soldiers be deployed in the city to provide protection to the Hazaras.
Lashkar militants bomb and shoot Shiites, whom they believe to be Muslim heretics, across Pakistan, although in Baluchistan Province, which includes Quetta, they concentrate on Hazaras, who immigrated from Afghanistan over a century ago and whose members have distinctive Central Asian physical features.

Mr. Ashraf fired the police chief of Baluchistan Province
and replaced him with Mushtaq Sukhera, the former head of counterterrorism operations in Punjab Province. Unusually, though, the brunt of the criticism has focused on role of the military and its powerful intelligence agencies.
Mr. Ashraf, meanwhile, sent a six-member delegation of lawmakers, led by Mr. Kaira, to hold talks with Hazara leaders in Quetta.

In Lahore, a spokesman for the Majlis-e-Wahdat ul Muslimeen, a Shiite lobbying group, said the hand-over of Quetta from civilian to military control was a central demand of the protesters. “We want the army to maintain peace and stop the massacre of Shiites,” said the spokesman, Mazahar Shigri.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Community Cinema - Whitney Young

The Powerbroker: Whitney Young's Fight for Civil Rights
February 19, 2013
5:45 PM
San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch, Koret Auditorium
100 Larkin St.

During the 1950s and 60s, civil rights leader Whitney Young navigated a divided society. He challenged America's white business and political leaders directly, but his efforts to open the doors for equal opportunity were often attacked by Black Americans who felt his methods were in contrast with the Black Power Movement of the time.

A panel discussion follows the film.

Civil Rights Act 1965 - front page today!

Has the South outgrown its tendency to suppress black voting?  Read this article in front page of NY TIMES!

EVERGREEN, Ala. — Jerome Gray, a 74-year-old black man, has voted in every election since 1974 in this verdant little outpost of some 4,000 people halfway between Mobile and Montgomery. Casting a ballot, he said, is a way to honor the legacy of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a civil rights landmark born from a bloody confrontation 70 miles north of here, in Selma.

....based on utility records. A three-judge federal court in Mobile barred the city from using the new voting list, invoking Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...

Critics of the Section 5 preclearance requirement call it an unwarranted and discriminatory federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified....

The law applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.

.....They had removed almost 800 people from the voting rolls, including Jerome Gray.”

Monday, February 4, 2013

SFSU Civil Rights History course - drop ins welcome

PLSI 357 Political Movements: Lessons from Freedom Summer
Below is the schedule of my spring course at SFSU - HSS 157
Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:10 pm to 3:50 pm (with some exceptions)
READINGS refer to text: Lessons from Freedom Summer (Emery, Gold, Braselmann)

Monday, January 28th INTRODUCTION

Wednesday, January 30th
The Southern Freedom Movement as a CASE STUDY

Monday, February 4th
Building the Foundations of a Social Movement: Infrastructure and Research
FLASH MOVIE: Without Sanctuary

Wednesday, February 6th
Building an Argument, Civil Disobedience and Nonviolent Resistance (Thoreau, Douglass and Gandhi)
READ: Foreward, Introduction, Frederick Douglass (pp 8-11), Thoreau: Essay on Civil Disobedience (pp. 16-17), and the section on Gandhi in Lessons from Freedom Summer

Monday, February 11th
Building the Foundations of a Social Movement: Infrastructure, Research, Identifying the Problem
Read: Chapter TWO from Lessons

Wednesday, February 13th
Highlander Folk School: Research and Community Building
Reading: Chapter section 4.B from Lessons and Chapter one from Democracy and the Arts of Schooling by Don Arnstine

Monday, February 18th
Becoming an Activist
Guest Speaker: Jean Wiley

Wednesday, February 20th
The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Coalition Building and Nonviolence
MOVIE: Boycott
READ:  Chapter 4  INTRO AS WELL AS  4.A, 4.C, 4.D

Monday, February 25th
Sit Ins and the formation of SNCC: Strategic Use of Nonviolent Direct Action
READ: Chapter 5

Wednesday, February 27th
The Strategic Use of Nonviolent Direct Action
CLASSWORK:  The Role of Nashville Sit Ins in the Southern Freedom Movment

Monday, March 4th
Examples of the Strategic Use of Nonviolence
Guest Speaker: Bruce Hartford

Wednesday, March 6th
The Freedom Rides 1961-3: Strategic Use of Nonviolent Direct Action
MOVIE: Freedom Riders (excerpts)
WATCH: Interactive Map of First Freedom Rides and the OTHERS!!!!  (this won't take long, but will 
SKIM:  these events:
please look at MAP
Effect on SNCC. Before the Freedom Rides, SNCC as an organization is little known outside Movement circles. The public and press are aware of the various student sit-in movements, but know little of SNCC as an organization.
    At the end of 1960 SNCC was still a loosely organized committee of part-time student activists, uncertain of their roles in the southern struggle and generally conventional in their political orientations. Yet within months, SNCC became a cadre of full-time organizers and protesters. Its militant identity was forged during the 'freedom rides,' a series of assaults on southern segregation that for the first time brought student protesters into conflict with the Kennedy administration. — Clayborne Carson [1]
Or, as one Movement veteran succinctly put it: "S.N.C.C. became SNICK!" 

Wednesday, March 13th
Freedom Rides
Guest Speaker: Mimi Real (Freedom Rider)

Monday, March 18th
Toward Freedom Summer
READ: Chapter 7 in Lessons

Wednesday, March 20th
Preparations for Freedom Summer
READ: Lessons: Chapter 8

Wednesday, April 3
Development of Local Leadership
Guest Speaker: Wazir Peacock (Mississippi, SNCC, 1960-63)

NO CLASS April 8th OR April 10th
McComb, Mississippi 1961-63

Monday, April 15th
Freedom Schools and the Arts, Part 2
Guest Speaker: Chude Allen (Freedom School Teacher)

Wednesday, April 17th
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic PartyMOVIE: Freedom on My Mind (excerpts)
READ: Chapter 10
Movie: Eyes on the Prize (excerpts)

Monday, April 29th
Organizing in Lowndes County
Guest Speaker: Jimmy Rogers

Wednesday, May 1st
The FBI's War on Black America
MOVIE: Orangeburg Massacre

Monday, May 6th -- What did the movement accomplish?
Guest Speaker: Phil Hutchings



Rosa Parks, Revisited

Charles Blow in Saturday's New York Times refers to a new biography of Rosa Parks.  I reproduce it below (adding links).  Anyone interested in the real story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, I highly suggest watching the excellent docu-drama, BOYCOTT
Most of what you think you know about Rosa Parks may well be wrong. On the verge of the 100th anniversary of her birth this Monday comes a fascinating new book, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” by JeanneTheoharis, a Brooklyn College professor. It argues that the romanticized, children’s-book story of a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history in a moment of uncalculated resistance is pure mythology. As Theoharis points out, “Rosa’s family sought to teach her a controlled anger, a survival strategy that balanced compliance with militancy.” Parks was mostly raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, a follower of Marcus Garvey, often sat vigil on the porch with a rifle in case the Klan came. She sometimes sat with him because, as the book says she put it, “I wanted to see him kill a Ku Kluxer.”

When she was a child, a young white man taunted her. In turn, she threatened him with a brick. Her grandmother reprimanded her as “too high-strung,” warning that Rosa would be lynched before the age of 20. Rosa responded, “I would be lynched rather than be run over by them.” One of the most troubling and possibly most controversial scenes in the book occurs when Rosa is a young woman working as a domestic. A white man whom she calls “Mr. Charlie” tries to sexually assault her. Determined to protect herself, she taunts him as she evades him, haranguing him about the “white man’s inhuman treatment of the Negro.” “How I hated all white people, especially him,” she continued. “I said I would never stoop so low as to have anything to do with him.”

Parks added that “if he wanted to kill me and rape a dead body, he was welcome but he would have to kill me first.” The author points out that although the story is recorded in Parks’s own handwriting, it isn’t clear whether it’s completely true, half true or just allegory. Rosa married Raymond Parks, a civil rights activist who sometimes carried a gun and who impressed her because, she said, “he refused to be intimidated by white people.” 

She spent nearly two decades before the bus incident struggling, organizing and agitating for civil rights, mostly as the secretary of the Montgomery, Ala., branch of the N.A.A.C.P. But it wasn’t until Parks was in her 40s and attended anintegrated workshop that she found “for the first time in my adult life that this could be a unified society.” This didn’t mean that she was eager for integration, though. She was later quoted as saying that what people sought “was not a matter of close physical contact with whites, but equal opportunity.” And Parks was by no means the first person to perform an act ofcivil disobedience on a bus. She was very much aware of many of the people whose similar actions had preceded her own, even raising money for some of their defense funds. She also encouraged others to commit these acts of civil disobedience. Parks explained that “I had felt for a long time, that if I was ever told to get up so a white person could sit, that I would refuse to do so.” That day came on Dec. 1, 1955, when a bus driver asked her to get up so that a white man could sit. She refused. This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was a political calculation informed by a life of activism. As Parks put it, “an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others.” And the idea that she stayed seated because of physical fatigue is pure fiction.

“I didn’t tell anyone my feet were hurting,” the book quotes her as saying. “It was just popular, I suppose because they wanted to give some excuse other than the fact that I didn’t want to be pushed around.”
The book also lays out Parks’s leading role in the bus boycotts and her decades of activism after the civil rights movement. When Parks died in 2005, Theoharis says, “The Rosa Parks who surfaced in the deluge of public commentary was, in nearly every account, characterized as ‘quiet.’ ‘Humble,’ ‘dignified,’ and ‘soft-spoken,’ she was ‘not angry’ and ‘never raised her voice.’ ” Parks, like many other Americans who over the years have angrily agitated for change in this country, had been sanitized and sugarcoated for easy consumption. As Theoharis writes: “Held up as a national heroine but stripped of her lifelong history of activism and anger at American injustice, the Parks who emerged was a self-sacrificing mother figure for a nation who would use her death for a ritual of national redemption.” Fortunately, this book seeks to restore Parks’s wholeness, even at the risk of stirring unease. The Rosa Parks in this book is as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King Jr. Happy Black History Month