"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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Friday, March 22, 2013

social media and the dearth of stories of people power in movies

From ICNC newsletter:

By: Rebecca L. Stein, MERIP, March 20, 2013
In the West Bank today, cameras are ubiquitous, as is the usage of social media as a means of online witnessing. Both are deemed nothing less than political necessities, the sine qua non of political claims in the networked court of public opinion. According to one Israeli soldier, "A commander or an officer sees a camera and becomes a diplomat, calculating every rubber bullet, every step. It's intolerable; we're left utterly exposed. The cameras are our kryptonite."
By: Emily Achtenberg, North American Congress on Latin America, March 22, 2013
The Academy Award-nominated film "NO" re-opens a window on a moment when Chileans used the ballot box to bring down the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 plebiscite. Genaro Arriagada, the Christian Democratic Party tactician who directed the "NO" campaign, says the movie ignores the reality of extensive organizing work by Chilean popular movements, unions, and political parties, over several years. Pinochet planned to foster violence, annul the plebiscite, and reassert dictatorial powers if he lost (which was only hinted at in the film. The self-coup plan was thwarted when the other members of the military junta refused to back Pinochet.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Video of CCSF Rally March 14th - We Are City College

Hopefully, this is the beginning of a movement in SF and the Bay Area for fully funded schools that are centers of community energy, empowerment, health and spiritual growth.

The organizers of the event probably benefited the most from this event (as it should be according to Bruce Hartford's Onion Theory).  They certainly developed better leadership skills; organizing skills; public speaking skills; media and outreach skills. (learning by doing!).  The problem continues to be defined in an ongoing organic fashion, through rallies and lots and lots of smaller meetings.

We Are City College!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday, March 14th Rally at Civic Center

 [This could be the beginning of something new in SF]

Coalition to Save City College of San Francisco 

1 pm Walk Out at CCSF, Ocean Campus 
2 pm March starting from CCSF, Mission Campus 
4-6 pm Rally, Civic Center

"City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is widely acknowledged to be one of the best community colleges in the country. The current crisis is largely the joint creation of two groups: first, the accreditation commission (ACCJC), an unaccountable body that has close ties to for-profit colleges and the student loan industry; and second, interim administrators who have no long-term commitment to the school. Both are abusing the accreditation process to downsize the college, funneling students into private and online schools that will saddle them with crushing debt. This is an attack on tens of thousands of Bay Area residents, particularly from low-income, people of color, and immigrant communities. We, the people of San Francisco, want to save our school and reverse the cuts to classes, programs, staff, and teachers. Join us on March 14 to call on the city’s elected officials to take immediate action. City Hall must ensure that Prop A funds are used for education — as the voters intended. We call on City Hall to fill any extra budget gap by advancing funds to the college. And we urge City Hall to call on the US Department of Education to stop the ACCJC’s unjustified “show cause” sanction against CCSF."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Civil Rights Act of 1965 and Mississippi

Do we still need the Voting Rights Act of 1965?  Yes, but we need more than that! Below are excerpts from an article from the NYTimes and some maps of various Mississippi election results. The Media and mainstream history focus on the laws and national leaders.  But it is the people who make change, ordinary people like you and me. Without us, there is no change.

I would highly recommend watching the movie Freedom Song if you are interested in the history of the voting rights campaign in McComb -- a nice case study of the role of ordinary people in making change. While most commentators reporting on the recent Supreme Court's debate over the constitutionality of the 1965 Voting Rights Act have identified John Lewis as "coordinating SNCC in Mississippi," I would argue that Bob Moses was the actual coordinator in MS. He is portrayed by the character, Daniel Wall, in Freedom Song...which is amazingly historically accurate. McComb was a pillar in the foundation of the movement that broke apartheid in Mississippi and in the Deep South.

From site:
"In July, [1960] ... Bob Moses comes to Atlanta to work with SCLC. But there is little happening, and he begins helping Baker and Stembridge at the SNCC desk. Baker asks him to go down into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to recruit for a SNCC strategy conference scheduled for Atlanta in October. He leaves in August on a journey that will, in time, transform SNCC from a loose association of independent student groups to an organization of organizers fomenting social revolution in the Deep south. "
NY TIMES: A Divide on Voting Rights in a Town Where Blood Spilled
McCOMB, Miss. [PIKE COUNTY]—. . . . The McComb project, as it was called by civil rights workers in 1961, was one of the early battles in a long and bloody war for voting rights in the South, a crucible for future leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who drilled black residents to pass the constitutional literacy tests and in return for their civic engagement were shot at, jailed and beaten.  Most people here, whites and blacks, agree that that was a very bad time. They also, generally, agree that things are much better now.  But on the more specific question on the necessity of Section 5, which requires nine states, most of them Southern, to submit voting changes for federal approval, opinions begin to separate. And by and large, there is a relatively easy test here to tell what a person is likely to think, and it comes down to the person’s skin color. .. ...

“I have to agree that it was very bad,” said Hollis Watkins, 72, a leader of the McComb project who sang spirituals to his fellow civil rights workers as they languished in jail in 1961.  “But based on where we are now, and understanding their way of camouflaging things, instead of it being very bad, it’s bad,” added Mr. Watkins, who is still active in civil rights work in Mississippi. ........ “Rather than the literary tests and poll taxes, the problems we have now are different,” Mr. Dowdy said. “There are long lines in certain neighborhoods, there are voter ID requirements. And those kinds of problems are not restricted to the Southern states.” . . . .

With a black population of 37 percent, by far the largest in the country, Mississippi did not have a black representative in Congress until 1986. As recently as 1990, only 22 out of the 204 members of the Mississippi State Legislature were black. While no black statewide official has been elected, there are now a black congressman and 49 black state lawmakers.
 The McComb project seemed to fail at the time.  But it's success was in the learned lessons that were used in the voter education project of 1962-3 and then during Freedom Summer of 1964. 

The maps that I put together below attempt to show a correlation among 1964 MS Freedom Democratic Party voter registration centers,  majority black counties and their gradual transformation into majority democratic voting counties today.  My theory is that the 1964 MFDP campaign resulted in grassroots community organizations and local leaders who were able to leverage the 1965 voting rights act to steadily register critical masses of black voters over the last sixty years.  Is the struggle over yet?  Hell no!  but fundamental progress has been made.  Freedom is a CONSTANT STRUGGLE---we cannot rest on the laurels of others.  By the way, Pike County (PI), where McComb is, went for Obama (it's on the bottom, bordering Louisiana) in 2012.  RED = Republican  BLUE = Democrat