After 16 Years Of Activism, Philadelphia Is Reclaiming Its Public Schools

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By Sarah Jaffe for Truthout – Sarah Jaffe: We are talking on Thursday, and the news today is that Philadelphia is taking back control of its public schools. First off, tell us about the news breaking today. What is going on? A.K. Klagsbrun: We just came from city hall, where Mayor Jim Kenney, who was elected on a pro-education platform, just announced that he will be calling on the School Reform Commission (SRC), which is the 16-year-long body that has ruled Philadelphia schools as part of a state takeover, to abolish itself and therefore claim the Philadelphia schools for local control. This is 16 years in the making, since the beginning of the SRC. Our coalition has been calling for this to happen, so we are pretty excited to see it happen this year. It is going to happen on November 16. A.L. Little: This is a great moment, but it is not just a great moment for the people who were part of this process. This is a great moment for the children of Philadelphia — the students of Philadelphia who have been affected by this failed experiment that last 16 years. Now they have an opportunity to actually receive the same education as their counterparts in many suburban districts. Hopefully, we will be able to see a changeover from the rule of the SRC to now local control here in Philadelphia.

Oklahoma City Changes Street Name Removes KKK Leader

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By Nick Hazelrigg for Oudaily – In a meeting filled with emotional appeals from members of the Norman community, the Norman City Council voted unanimously to rename DeBarr Avenue by June 1, 2018. Spurred by local activists at its Oct. 24 meeting, the council agreed to amend its original resolution regarding DeBarr Avenue, named for former OU professor and Ku Klux Klan chaplain Edwin DeBarr, to better meet the requests of the community. Norman Citizens for Racial Justice, a new activist group, led the night’s push on city council as part of its “DeBarr Avenue Action Week.” The council’s original resolution proposed sending the issue of renaming city streets to the City Council Oversight Committee, a solution that caused many demonstrators to accuse the council of dragging its feet and being complicit in racism. After hearing hours of public commentary, the city council unanimously passed an amendment added by council member Breea Clark promising to change the street name by June 1 of 2018, if not earlier. The council also voted to remove two sections from its original resolution which said the city council did not originally name DeBarr Avenue, since many demonstrators said they saw this section as the city’s attempt to avoid blame.

From The Old Left To The New: Progressive Parenting

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By Steve Early. As a left-wing labor activist and father of two (now adult) daughters, I once grappled with the challenges of “progressive parenting.” It was hard enough, I soon discovered, to avoid screwing up the basics of old fashioned child rearing (ie keeping kids safe, healthy, reasonably happy and well-adjusted). Insuring conformity with parental views and values was an additional heavy lift—and an effort that could easily backfire. I tried to learn from the experience of lefty parents who made their own politics a mandatory (rather than elective) subject, turning any related praxis into a grim family duty. Dragging kids to meetings, lectures, rallies, and picket lines, against their will—and telling them what to think—has been known to produce offspring who are resentful, apolitical, and even conservative in their views.

Seven Games For The Resistance

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By Darya Marchenkova for TESA Collective and Felicia Perez for Center for Story-based Strategy – Have you ever talked politics with someone you disagree with and tried to change their mind? If so, then you probably know that the facts rarely speak for themselves. It’s not enough to tell people facts and figures about the truth if we want to convey deeper values. To do that, we need stories, images, and metaphors. We need imagination. Games are sensational storytellers. They can take us to magical places and alter our perspectives. And what if that fun mental break we get from games wasn’t just about escaping real life but about imagining a better world? The TESA Collective has just launched Rise Up: The Game of People and Power, a cooperative board game where players build a fiercely powerful social movement step by step, while warding off attacks by aggressive opponents. It’s a fun and low-stakes way to practice political strategy, created for both new and experienced activists. The Center for Story-based Strategy made Resistance Bingo, a print-and-play game that responds to the “oh shit” feeling many people might be feeling by giving players practical actions they can take to resist fascism in real life, then tracking their progress on a bingo board.

Artist Ai Weiwei On The Ingredients For Effective Activism

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By Jordan Riefe for Truth Dig – In 2003, artist and activist Ai Weiwei landed a plum commission from the Chinese government: designing the Beijing National Stadium (the “Bird’s Nest”), which became a symbol for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The government’s decision was in part due to Ai’s unique vision, honed by a decade of living and working in New York’s art scene, but it also might have been an attempt to mend fences. Ai’s father, poet Ai Qing, was a dissident who spent roughly 20 years in exile until he was reinstated following the death of Mao Zedong. Ai was raised in the dire conditions of a refugee before finally moving to Beijing in the late 1970s to study art. Although jailed by the Chinese government in 2011 for his political activism, this experience hasn’t stopped him from speaking out for human rights. In a recent interview in Beverly Hills, Ai discussed a number of subjects, including his new documentary, “Human Flow,” an intimate and epic look at the refugee crisis spanning four continents. His current refugee-themed art installation, titled “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors,” went up in New York City on Friday to coincide with the movie’s opening. The film opens in Los Angeles on Friday. Here, Ai tells us why “America First” represents the worst of America, and offers a peek at the ingredients of effective activism.

Radical Self Care: Six Ways Activism Is Good For You

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By Victoria Albina and Jules Netherland for Drug Policy Alliance – Seemingly everyday we wake to some new terrifying and dispiriting news from the Trump Administration. It’s almost too much to bear and yet, we must not only bear it, but continue to resist it and all the other politics of hate. Since the election of Donald Trump and the mobilization of millions of activists (new and seasoned), much has been written about self-care for activists, and with good reason. Less than a year into this new political reality, the refrains of “I’m burnt out,” “I’m overwhelmed,” “I just can’t face it,” grow ever louder. Indeed, it’s a lot to endure, especially for those living on the margins and/or directly in the line of fire of Trump and the GOP’s policies of meanness and hate. Self-care is absolutely vital to our ability to resist over the long run. If we do not take excellent care of ourselves and our communities, none of us will be able to sustain the fierce activism and organizing that is essential to withstand four years of the Trump presidency, not to mention the years of devastation that are likely to follow. And we aren’t talking about the expensive, “spa day” kind of self-care or that aimed at making people feel better or learn to tolerate structural and systemic oppression and injustice. We believe in radical self-care that transforms individuals and communities so that they can bring their best to the fight for freedom.

Industry Lawsuits Try To Paint Environmental Activism As Illegal Racket

Greenpeace activists hung banners on the headquarters of Procter & Gamble to draw attention to palm oil plantations and deforestation. Credit: Tim Aubry/Greenpeace

By Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News – On a bright afternoon in May 2016, two men in a silver SUV pulled into Kelly Martin’s driveway. One of them, tall and beefy with a crew cut, walked up to her front door. “The guy said, ‘Is Joshua Martin home?’ and I said, ‘No, who are you?” recalled Kelly. “He said, ‘I’m with a company that’s talking to current and former employees of ForestEthics, and I’m wondering if he still works there’.” Joshua had left ForestEthics, renamed Stand last year, to run the Environmental Paper Network. Kelly asked to see the stranger’s ID and to snap a picture on her phone. Instead, the man retreated to the SUV and “they literally peeled out of the driveway.” Around the same time, Aaron Sanger, another former employee of Stand, also received a visit from two men asking similar questions. So did others, some of them former employees of Greenpeace. Then, on the last day of that month, Greenpeace and Stand were hit with an unusual lawsuit brought by Resolute Forest Products, one of Canada’s largest logging and paper companies, that could cost the groups hundreds of millions of dollars if Resolute wins. The timber company said the organizations, which for years had campaigned against Resolute’s logging in Canada’s boreal forest, were conspiring illegally to extort the company’s customers and defraud their own donors.

How Profit Deals With Protest: Disappearance Of Argentinian Activist Santiago Maldonado

Top photo | Demonstrators hold photos of missing activist Santiago Maldonado, during a protest at Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

By Ramona Wadi for Mint Press News – The Maldonado case has exposed state repression of Mapuche resistance and activism. Digging deeper, we find linkage of the activist’s disappearance to capitalist exploitation — and to the clothing company, Benetton, which owns the largest share of territory allocated to a foreign company in Latin America. Over 40 days have passed since the forced disappearance of Argentinian activist Santiago Maldonado. President Mauricio Macri’s government appears to be more preoccupied with protecting the impunity of the Argentine Military Police, also known as the gendarmerie, than with listening to the demands for Maldonado’s release — or at least for information on his whereabouts and condition — being made by a mobilized populace. Maldonado was detained and disappeared on August 1 while participating in a protest in Chubut calling for the release of Mapuche leader of the Ancestral Mapuche Resistance(RAM), Facundo Jones Huala. Jones had been detained upon extradition requests by Chile. Both Argentina and Chile have labeled Jones a terrorist, on account of his resistance activities against capitalist exploitation of ancestral Mapuche territory.

Why A Team Of 8-Year-Old Football Players Decided To Kneel For National Anthem

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By Tyler Tynes for SB Nation – A group of youth football players in Cahokia, Ill., decided as a team to kneel to protest racial injustice in America, mirroring Colin Kaepernick’s original stand that got him exiled from football. Members of the Junior Comanches football team demonstrated Sunday after kids asked team coaches about the protests in St. Louis over a not-guilty verdict of an officer killing a black man in 2011. Protests in the city over the unjust killing, sparked by a new verdict, have continued for days. Jason Stockley, a white officer, killed Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011. Dashcam recordings showed Stockley saying he was going to “kill that motherfucker” while he and another officer pursued Smith assuming he was a part of an earlier drug deal. Stockley ended up shooting Smith five times. Following a discussion by the youth players who saw protests on televisions at home, Orlando Gooden, a Junior Comanches coach, told the Belleville News-Democrat that the idea came up during practice and that parents supported it.

The NFL Players Union Just Awarded Colin Kaepernick ‘Week 1’ MVP

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By Grant Stern for Verified Politics – The NFL Player’s Association just picked a free agent quarterback as their Week 1 MVP for his charity work, even though he didn’t even make it onto the field. Colin Kaepernick has been blackballed by the NFL’s ownership – 97% of which is composed of enormously wealthy, mostly conservative white males – over his controversial stand to peacefully protest racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem while playing for the San Francisco 49ers last year. Kaepernick guided the Niners to a Super Bowl just four years ago, turning in a stellar performance while his team came up just short against the Baltimore Ravens. Now, he’s still making good on his pledge to donate $1 million to charity, even though he’s unemployed. The Chicago Tribune reports: The NFLPA found particularly impressive, Kaepernick’s continued donations to charity, including a Sept. 7 gift of $100,000 split between four organizations. Kaepernick, who some say hasn’t been signed by an NFL team due to his political activism, gave $25,000 each to DREAM, a New York City after-school program that promotes sports in urban neighborhoods, the Gathering for Justice’s War on Children, a forthcoming initiative to tackle child incarceration, United We Dream, an organization focused on empowering immigrant youth and the Coalition for the Homeless.

Campaign Nonviolence Mounts Nationwide Week Of Actions

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By Aggie Perilli and Jeanine Genauer for Pace e Bene – Corvallis, OR (September 15, 2017) –Over 1000 marches, actions, events and rallies are poised to take place in all 50 states nationwide as part of Campaign Nonviolence Week of Actions September 16-24. This unprecedented campaign of grassroots activism calls for nonviolent action against racism, war, poverty, and environmental destruction. In its inaugural year of 2014, 230 events took place. In response to the hate speech presently dividing our nation, this year people will join together in more than 1,000 rallies, to spread the word of unity and peace. “People across the United States and beyond are taking Campaign Nonviolence to the streets to end violence and injustices, and begin peacemaking,” said Dr. Ken Butigan, co-founder of Campaign Nonviolence and professor at DePaul University. “This unified voice calls for concrete policy shifts to build peace, economic justice, and environmental healing—and insists on being heard.” Campaign Nonviolence is sponsored by Pace e Bene, a non-profit organization committed to building a culture of peace through active nonviolence and shared understanding and partnerships to protect human rights, abolish war as well as nuclear weapons, end poverty, challenge injustice, heal the planet—and meet today’s profound spiritual task: to build a just, peaceful and nonviolent world.

Empire, Indigenous Rights And The Environment

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese for Clearing the FOG Radio. With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, wildfires and droughts fresh in our minds and threats of greater global aggression, we take a look at the connections between Empire, war, Indigenous rights and the environment. This week is the tenth anniversary of the official adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We speak with Gar Smith, editor of The War and the Environment Reader, about his new book and a conference he is organizing later this month with World Beyond War on the topic. Then we speak with Charmaine White Face, author of Indigenous Nations’ Rights in the Balance, who participated in and protested the process used by the United Nation, about Indigenous sovereignty and her work to protect the Black Hills, a sacred site.

“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism And Embracing Power

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By Bruce Levine for Bruce E. Levine – Occupy Wall Street insider Jonathan Smucker’s recently published Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals (AK Press, 2017) is the post-Occupy guide for how to be smarter about politics. Smucker, a long-time grassroots organizer, does not dismiss what Occupy did right but is honest about its failures. The 99% remain just as powerless as ever, and we still have endless wars, corporate control, and increasing social and economic injustices. In the tradition of Saul Alinsky and Antonio Gramsci, Smucker points out that “knowledge of what is wrong with a social system and knowledge of how to changethe system are two completely different categories of knowledge.” Before touching on how Hegemony How-To speaks directly to my own experience, a feel for Smucker’s punches. Smucker spares nothing and no one—including himself—in his passion to achieve political victory. Smucker asks himself: “How many times, I wondered, had I favored a particular action or tactic because I really thought it was likely to change a decision-maker’s position or win over key allies, as opposed to gravitating toward an action because it expressed my activist identity and self-conception? How concerned were we really, in our practice, with political outcomes?” Smucker concludes, “We often seemed more preoccupied with the purity of our political expression than with how to move from Point A to Point B. It felt as if having the right line about everything was more important than making measurable progress on anything.”

‘People’s Congress Of Resistance’ Draws Grassroots Activists

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By Sarah Jaffe for Truthout – We’ve both been partnering, along with a number of other co-conveners, for the past almost six months now. It was obvious, certainly at the moment that Donald Trump was elected, that a massive grassroots movement had come into being, resisting against Trump’s odious and reactionary and racist and misogynist policies. … People were in the streets instantly, they were in the airports, they were reacting en masse to Trump’s plans to “take this country back” many, many decades. The demonstrations were such in terms of magnitude that perhaps as many as one out of every three people [in Washington] had participated in a protest. But we saw that this protest movement was also … being co-opted by Democratic Party elites who saw in the movement a vessel for their own electoral goals in 2018 and 2020. They almost instantly turned the “resistance” against Trump, which was progressive and grassroots and made up of front line fighters, into something that was more or less reactionary by focusing on Russia — the narrative that the reason Trump won (he of course being the most unpopular candidate in US history) and the reason that Hillary Clinton lost was because of the collusion of foreign powers.

NFL Fans Rally To Defend Kaepernick, Threaten To Boycott Season

During the 2016 season, quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a stand against police brutality and racism. | Photo: AFP

By Staff of Tele Sur – What began as a stand against police brutality and racial injustice has led to unemployment for NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. One year after NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s took a knee during the U.S. national anthem, the football player has been left without a contract deal since becoming a free agent in March and football fans across the country are threatening to boycott the season if he doesn’t get picked up. What began as a stand against police brutality and racial injustice has led to unemployment for the African American quarterback, who opted out of a contract renewal with the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year. “There will be no football in the state of Georgia if Colin Kaepernick is not on a training camp roster and given an opportunity to pursue his career,” Gerald Griggs, spokesperson for Atlanta’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, told Fox News. Riggs warned that if Kaepernick does not get a contract by 5 p.m. on Sept. 17, “We will take a knee, and we will continue to take a knee on the NFL until they act with one voice.”