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Just a reminder, people!!! The next meeting of Occupy Utica will be Monday March 10, 2014 at 7 P.M. at the Cornerstone Community Church. We discussed meeting more frequently in the near future, but people’s schedules did not allow this as of yet. Remember!!! The group decided to change our venue at this time from the Other Side to the Cornerstone Community Church in Utica (500 Plant St, Utica, NY 13502; behind the Dunkin Donuts at the Oneida Square Roundabout on Genesee Street).

We will also be getting together on March 12th at 7 P.M. at Cornerstone to discuss Pedagogy of the Oppressed along with the Mohawk Valley Freedom School and other community members. The book can be read online in PDF form at this link:
http://www.users.humboldt.edu/jwpowell/edreformFriere_pedagogy.pdfSee you at the meeting!

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Monday, February 24, 2014
7:00pm
MVCC Utica Campus
ACC Commons (Cafeteria)

Former Black Panther Aaron Dixon is slated to speak in Utica on February 24 as part of a statewide speaking tour that has six other stops. The MVCC prisoner justice organization Incarcerated Flavors decided to bring Dixon to Utica as part of Black History Month and to encourage people to become actively engaged in social justice and social change. In addition to speaking at MVCC, Dixon will also speak at Proctor High School earlier in the day, an event set up by the MVCC Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP). Dixon will speak about his life as an activist and his recently published memoir My People Are Rising. Books will be available for purchase and autographs.

IN AN ERA of stark racial injustice, Aaron Dixon dedicated his life to the revolution, founding the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age nineteen. In his new memoir, he traces the course of his own radicalization and that of a generation. Through his eyes, we witness the courage and commitment of the young men and women who rose up in rebellion, risking their lives in the name of freedom. My People Are Rising is an unforgettable tale of their triumphs and tragedies, and the enduring legacy of Black Power.

Although the Panthers are seen as a controversial organization to some, the group was crucial in the struggle to expand the rights of not only Black people but poor people of all races. Across the nation, the Panthers established free medical clinics and dental clinics, free schools and childcare, and countless other free services to the disenfranchised. One of their most well known programs was the Free Breakfast for Children program which fed over 10,000 hungry children every day. The Panthers were also a leading antiwar and economic justice organization.

As an adolescent, Dixon marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to end housing discrimination in Seattle, and was one of the first volunteers to participate in the busing program to integrate schools. While a member of the Black Panthers, Dixon started the Free Breakfast for Children program that fed thousands of hungry Black children; and he helped to open a free community medical and legal clinic. The clinic continues to this day as the Carolyn Downs Clinic, now part of Country Doctor Community Health Center.

AARON DIXON is one of the co-founders of the Seattle chapter of the Black Panther Party. He has since founded Central House, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing for youth, and was one of the cofounders of the Cannon House, a senior assisted-living facility. Aaron ran for US Senate on the Green Party ticket in 2006.

PRAISE
“Dixon’s lyrical prose provides a candid appraisal of the Black Panther Party that highlights the neglected contributions of Northwest activists. This is a striking blend of social history, memoir, and political analysis. Required reading for all those interested in Black liberation struggles and radical history of the twentieth century.” –Laura Chrisman, editor in chief, The Black Scholar, and the Nancy K. Ketcham Endowed Chair of English, University of Washington

“Dixon has that uncanny ability to convey to his readers the feelings that came along with the party’s triumphs and defeats. Most readers will be amazed to discover what it took to create and then sustain the Black Panther Party’s many community service programs. They will be equally shocked at how close party members were to the ever-present threat of death. Unlike previous autobiographies of BPP leaders, this one does not sugarcoat the organization’s shortcomings, nor does it glamorize its hard fought and often well-deserved victories. It does, however, provide a valuable, though painful, reminder of the high price of real change in these United States.” –Curtis Austin, associate professor of history, The Ohio State University

“My People Are Rising is the most authentic book ever written by a member of the Black Panther Party. Aaron Dixon does a superb job of presenting life in the party from the perspective of a foot soldier–a warrior for the cause of revolutionary change and Black Power in America. He pulls no punches and holds nothing back in writing honestly about those times as he successfully presents a visual picture of the courage, commitment, and sometimes shocking brutality of life as a Panther activist. This is an unforgettable, must-read book!” –Larry Gossett, chair, Metropolitan King County Council

“There have been many books about the Black Panther party but never has there been a Panther book as illuminating as this memoir by Aaron Dixon. It’s the story from a different perspective than we’ve ever seen: the former member who has remained a long-distance runner for revolution. It’s indispensable for anyone with an interest in black politics or the politics of change in the United States.” –Dave Zirin, the Nation

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(A mid-May) May Day

Saturday, May 11
4:00pm Rally and Celebration

Watson Williams Park in Utica
(on the corner of James and Steuben Streets)

Worldwide, May Day is traditionally Workers’ Day – a day of labor solidarity, and a public holiday. It’s a day to celebrate and rally in support of worker and immigrant rights. In protest of the corruption of the worldwide marketplace, which has led to illegal foreclosures and evictions, mass unemployment, low wages, high taxes, and a penalization of all those who do not own the world’s wealth, come out to voice your concerns and to envision a world built on social and economic justice.

This year, Utica is celebrating May Day on May 11th, a Saturday, to allow more people to come out who would have been at work on May first. Please come and listen to speakers, music, eat food, play games and celebrate with the community.

For more information, please call 732-2382 or contact maslauskas84@gmail.com.

The roots of May Day are in Chicago when a general strike was called to enact the eight hour workday in 1886. Hundreds of thousands of workers went on strike but the peaceful demonstration deteriorated into violence when the police started a riot in Chicago’s Haymarket Square. An unknown number of workers and police were killed. The authorities rounded up strike leaders who were later executed, not for any crime they committed, but because they were union organizers and anarchists. May Day is celebrated the world over and has long been a day of protest in the US. In 2006, the largest strike in US history occurred when undocumented immigrants, workers, and many others went on strike for immigration reform.

“If you think that by hanging us you can stomp out the labor movement, then hang us. Here you will tread upon a spark, but here, and there, and behind you, and in front of you, the flames will blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out. The ground is on fire upon which you stand.” – August Spies, Haymarket Martyr

For a history on the origins of May Day, read historian and IWW member Eric Chase’s article:

http://www.iww.org/en/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday

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When: April 13 – meet at The Other Side on Genesee Street (across from the Uptown Theater) this Saturday, April 13 at 2:30pm for a carpool heading to Colgate University for a 3:30 peaceful protest.

On Saturday April 15 at 5:00pm, Colgate University will host former Mexican president Felipe Calderon as an honored guest and speaker. Calderon came to power in what was largely viewed as a stolen election in 2006. He waged a failed and bloody “war on drugs” that resulted in the torture, forced disappearances, and extra-judicial killings of up to 120,000 people.

He violently repressed the democratic political movements in Oaxaca and the indigenous Zapatistas in Chiapas. In 2011 he was charged with crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court mostly for his handling of the drug war. His disastrous economic policies pushed millions of Mexicans into poverty while only the wealthiest in Mexico and a number of U.S. corporations profited.

Unfortunately, Colgate is not alone in applauding the policies of Calderon. The former president was awarded a fellowship at his alma mater of Harvard. Protests erupted in response, both in the street and in the form of a petition.

Calderon’s ability to speak at prestigious U.S. universities unfortunately comes out of the long history of the U.S. government supporting human rights violators and dictators that do the bidding of U.S. big business. A change in policy is long overdue.

Sign the petition to appeal Harvard’s decision to grant Calderon a fellowship.

http://www.change.org/petitions/harvard-appeal-100-000-signatures-one-for-each-person-sacrificed-during-felipe-calder%C3%B3n-s-senseless-us-backed-war

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Today the movement is in a state of impasse. Perhaps by turning to history, exploring the experiences of movements animated by similar values and confronting similar roadblocks, we’ll find some guidance on how to move forward.

On February 1st, 1960, four Black students in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at the counter of a local Woolworth’s, refusing to leave until they were served. Unaware that their actions were to ignite a movement that would radically shake the nation. Similar to Occupy Wall Street, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) emerged out of a wave of direct action that spread almost spontaneously across the country, reshaping the national conversation around inequality and providing space for a new generation of radicals to find each other. The Civil Rights Movement, which had for sometime been stagnating, was given a fresh infusion of new energy. But as the wave passed, the young radicals found themselves in a moment of confusion: the initiative was firmly in their hands, but they were unsure of what direction to go in or how to move forward. Having perhaps reached the limit that style of activism had to offer, they began to shift gears to the longer-term work of community organizing.

Broadly speaking, the Civil Rights Movement can be thought of as containing two distinct traditions of movement building: community mobilizing and community organizing. The former focused primarily on large-scale, short-term public events. This is the Movement of popular memory, best associated with the legacy of Dr. King. The organizing tradition, on the other hand, was animated by a sense of freedom eloquently summed up by Septima Clark as “broadening the scope of democracy to include everyone and deepening the concept to include every relationship.” To this end, more emphasis was placed on the longer-term work of cultivating a sense of leadership, agency, and power of everyday people. The success of campaigns was judged more for how they facilitated the personal transformation of those involved than if they met particular tactical goals. The movement became a kind of training in democracy.

As they would arrive in town, SNCC organizers were often ignored or avoided by local people, often dismissively referred to as “dat mess.” Even folks initially sympathetic to the movement simply had too much to lose by publicly affiliating with it. But the organizers dug themselves in, engaging the community, getting to know people and their struggles, building relationships. Slowly, impressed by their ideas, actions, character, and courage, some local people chose to cast their lot with the movement. Within a year, they would have the capacity to mobilize an entire town; even conservative local leaders felt obligated to express their support. When SNCC organizers would leave town, they left behind lasting autonomous organizations led by local people, who otherwise would never would have thought of themselves as politically engaged. They transformed the South.

SNCC organizer Bob Moses was once asked how you organize a town. “By bouncing a ball,” he responded. “You stand on a street corner and bounce a ball. Soon all the children come around. You keep on bouncing the ball. Before long it runs under someone’s porch and you meet the adults.”

SNCC often thought about organizing and building relationships interchangeably. Canvassing was the prototypical organizing act. It was the first step in engaging and developing relationships with those in the community not already sympathetic to the movement. Anyone who showed interest would be asked to become involved in a single, concrete task. This could be helping to plan a workshop or going canvassing themselves, but it often meant attending a mass meeting. Mass meetings were the means by which curiosity was cemented into commitment. Mass meetings borrowed their form from the Black church. Strategy and tactics were discussed, internal problems aired, educational lectures given, gospels sung, updates given on what was happening with the movement elsewhere. One of the major components of the mass meeting was folks publicly narrating their life story. Mass meetings helped break people out of their sense of isolation by showing them how many of their neighbors had also come out. Citizenship schools aimed to raise people’s basic literacy skills to prepare them to register to vote, but they were taught using a radical pedagogical style that emphasized structural critique, Black history, “community problem solving” (ie, direct action), and ultimately, subjective transformation. Other major tasks of organizing a town were locating co-optable networks (social networks already predisposed to movement values),  and developing informal leadership (those in communities already holding informal leadership roles). Ultimately, this organizing allowed SNCC to move communities of ordinary people into sustained political action.

Much of what has become common sense in Occupy Wall Street and contemporary anarchism has its origins in SNCC. Skeptical of traditional organizations, SNCC experimented with consensus decision making, horizontal structures, and group-centric leadership. They developed a kind of independent radicalism, untethered by dogmas or established political ideology. They developed a try-and-let’s-see style of organizing, open to experiments and learning from experience. To borrow a phrase from the Zapatistas, SNCC attempted to “walk while asking questions.” SNCC found their way out of their own impasse by shifting their emphasis from dramatic events to the steadier work of community organizing. It seems today that a similar shift is needed: toward radical community organizing.

Shyam Khanna

Originally published in Tidal. http://tidalmag.org/mississippi-goddam/

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The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., a multi-issue economic justice organization, is requesting your help in organizing a news conference next Monday (March 11) to discuss the impact of sequester on our community. We will invite area residents and leaders of local human services agencies to highlight the significant cuts to programs and services that will occur if Congress does not take action. Those gathered will discuss how these automatic cuts to domestic spending will have a devastating impact on our local community.

We need your assistance to make this event a success. Please contact us if you or your agency can speak and share information on how these cuts will cripple serves for our most vulnerable citizens. We are also compiling data on the possible impact of these cuts.

The Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc. will be providing in the next day detailed information as to the location, date, and time for the event. Please let us know if you can serve as a speak or know of individuals and clients who can tell their stories of how federally funded programs have made a difference in their lives.

We also need help in the following ways: making posters, conducting a short survey of local groups, making calls to invite individuals and groups to attend.

Please respond to the following email address: cnycitizenaction@gmail.com. You can also call me at 315-725-0974.

Thank you for your support.

Best,

John Furman

John Furman
President
Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc.
P.O. Box 411
Utica, NY 13503-0411
315-725-0974
cnycitizenaction@gmail.com

Dear community member,

Rev. Jeff McArn, Chaplain of Hamilton College, has initiated a Community Book Read and discussion on the topic of mass incarceration in America. These discussions are based upon the work of Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow, the book which all of us will be reading. There are two groups underway on the Hamilton campus.

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You are invited to join a Utica reading/discussion group to be held at the Refugee Center at 7PM on March 12 and 26th. Attorney Michelle Alexander will speak on the Hamilton campus April 17th during this spring semester. With your registration an e-book can be made available to you, free of charge, and there are a few hard copies available as well.

Michelle Alexander’s new book offers a new understanding of the continuing problem of race in America. Just as the institution of slavery ended and the brutality of the KKK developed to establish Jim Crow segregation and the further economic exploitation of Black Americans, in the same way, the waging of the War On Drugs, exclusively in poor Black communities has created a new Jim Crow society.

The pervasive conviction of Black men with drug felonies in the American judicial system tacitly relegates them to second class citizenship status where their right to vote, ability to hold certain jobs, acquire school loans or receive scholarships for higher education, visit with their children, the right to serve on a jury and access to housing are all greatly diminished. The impact upon the Black family has been disastrous.

The cultural construct which has established this racial caste system will be discussed through a discussion guide provided by the Unitarian Universalist Church with an ultimate intention of dismantling the same.

Please join us for this important community conversation for two sessions in March and a joint session to convene all community book readers after Attorney Alexander completes her remarks on April 17 at Hamilton College.

Please contact: forthegoodinc@gmail.com if you are interested.

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