Ten sessions that profiled history-bending campaigns and movement initiatives in the United States, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Inspiring stories from those who directly participated in those struggles. Like Zoharah Simmons who went to Laurel, MS as a college sophomore to set up a Freedom School for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1964. Strongly urged by her grandmother not to go, she went anyway. Or Judith LeBlanc who navigated complicated organizational relationships between farmers, environmentalists, and Native American communities during the Dakota Access Pipe Line campaign that eventually led to its closure under the Biden administration. Many other stories of courage, perseverance, and finding one’s best self in the organizing process.
Those ten sessions are now part of our collective movement archive. Use them to prompt discussions with members of your organization, or with students in a classroom (or zoom!). Watch them to reflect on your own experiences, and gain insight from lessons that others have mined. At the very least, be inspired to know that you (no, we) are part of an impressive tradition of fighting and realizing freedom.
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You can watch the videos below, or click on the “session description” link and leave a comment.
Presenter: Prexy Nesbitt, Presidential Fellow in Peace Studies, Chapman College.
Presenter: Judith Le Blanc is a citizen of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma and director of the Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), a national Native training and organizing network.
Presenter: Salvador “Chava” Bustamante, Director of Latinos United for a New America, and former First Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1877.
Guest Speakers: Paola Aponte Cotto & Marisel Robles Gutiérrez, Comedores Sociales de Puerto Rico.
Key Topics: abolition versus reform; defund the police; historical roots of abolition work; Black Lives Matter; organizing systems involved folks and their families
Presenter: Joel Rocamora, former Director of the Institute for Popular Democracy in the Philippines and former Lead Convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission under Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. Joel is joined by Scott Robinson, filmmaker of “Season of Thunder”, a documentary that depicted this campaign.
Key Topics: Privatization of public utilities; organizing urban poor communities; integration of service, cultural work, policy advocacy and grassroots organizing.
Presenter: Cesar Ramirez, Executive Director, Observatorio Cuidadano de Servicios Públicos, Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Key Topics: secondary constituency organizing; labor movement; creative tactics; race, culture and identity
Presenters: Alfredo DeAvila, UFW Boycott organizer and worked at the Texas Farm Workers Union; Andrea O’Malley and Carlos Munoz, UFW Boycott in Boston.
The ninth session of the Freedom School tackles key challenges in organizing with a roundtable of new and veteran organizers.
We chose four themes that have surfaced repeatedly in the prior eight sessions of the Freedom School.