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From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation 150 Years to the day following the unconditional Confederate surrender to the Union Army, Freddie Gray was arrested in Baltimore and severely beaten. His subsequent death, and that of other African Americans at the hand of police, exposed the factual chasm between formal equality before the law and actual self-determination and self possession inherent to actual freedom. Recorded at TEDxBaltimore January 2016.

We Only Move Forward When We Demand the Impossible: An Interview With Bill Ayers

By Alice KimTruthout

Bill Ayers’ Demand the Impossible!: A Radical Manifesto urges a re-imagining of society as we know it. An insurgent educator and an activist for 50 years, Ayers says that staying within the boundaries of what is considered politically realistic limits our thinking. At a time when police violence and mass incarceration, war and environmental destruction, economic crisis and corrupt political systems are wreaking havoc on our lives, somebody has to step up and demand the impossible. And that is exactly what Ayers does in this book, a decidedly accessible text that insists that human beings have the capacity to remake a world with more peace, more justice, more transparency and more democracy.

Ayers critiques the world we live in — from the prison industrial complex to the health care system — to help us better understand the world in which we live. But more than that, he pushes his readers to unleash their radical imaginations so that we can fundamentally transform it.

Law, Protest, and Social Movements

This course is for students interested in learning how to create social change through collective action. The dual aims of the course are to enrich our understanding of the mechanics of social change and to critically examine the relationship between law, lawyers, and social movements. Together, we will develop a nuanced understanding of law as a complex tool that has the potential to both coopt social movements and support liberation. We will take a historical and theoretical case-study approach, with emphasis on the civil rights and Black Power movements in the United States. We will also draw lessons from contemporary movement-building efforts. Throughout the semester, guest speakers on the front lines of racial and economic justice movements here in Michigan will join us to share their insights and ground our discussion. Visit the PDF version of Law, Process, and Social Movements to access the full syllabus. Dr. Amanda Alexander University…

Freedom Square: Making Black Lives Matter

By Alice Kim, Editor

In Chicago, the #LetUsBreathe Collective has transformed a lot adjacent to the Homan Square facility, exposed as a Chicago Police Department “black site” by The Guardian last year, into a beautiful organizing space aptly called Freedom Square. While the city continues to divest social resources from our communities, this site of torture has become a site of freedom and visionary love in a neighborhood that is over-policed and over-incarcerated. According to Million Dollar Blocks, North Lawndale committed nearly $241 million to incarceration in 2005-2009.

Learning Resistance and Building Solidarity: Black Lives Matter North of the 49th

By Shayna Plaut, Contributing Editor, Human Rights

“Ally is a complicated word; sometimes accomplice is better. Accomplices put their body on the line.”
– Dr. JP Catungal, Critical Gender and Sexualities Studies

As I joined the growing number of people standing vigil with Black Lives Matter Vancouver on Sunday July 10th, I immediately recognized Constance Barnes, a charismatic mover and shaker in the worlds of culture, green space and electoral politics of Vancouver. The last time I had seen her was four years ago. We hugged, then standing back she shook her head, “fuckin’ really? I mean, fuckin’ really? This is why my mother and father left the States 60 years ago. And here we are, again?”

Why We Dream About a World Without Police

By William C. Anderson, Contributing Editor, Race, Class, and Immigration

The last few years have been rough. President Obama’s last term in the White House has given many of us some of the most polarizing times we have ever experienced. It goes without saying that many have felt hopeless after being promised a change. Political disillusionment has clouded the air in a country struggling to find its true identity. In the midst of all this, unrelenting police violence has been in the spotlight driven by organized resistance to police brutality and renewed media interest. Police violence hasn’t necessarily gotten worse, but it’s being talked about more. This national conversation is absolutely necessary and should not let up. It’s important to utilize the tools we have – like our words – to rebel. Using words as resistance, Truthout recently published their first anthology, Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macare and Alana Yu-lan.

“The U.S. and Israel Make the Connections for US”: Anti-Imperialism and Black-Palestinian Solidarity

By Nadine Naber[i]

Dr. Nadine Naber explores Black-Palestinian solidarity in this excerpt from her forthcoming article in the Critical Ethnic Studies Association journal, Volume 3, Issue 2.

In the summer 2014, as activists in Ferguson, Missouri, faced the military-grade weapons of four city and state police departments—tear gas, smoke bombs, stun grenades and tanks, Gazans were confronting Israel’s heavy artillery shelling, massive use of cannons, mortars, and half-ton to one-ton missiles.[ii] The canisters fired in both Gaza and Ferguson were U.S.-made.[iii] Worldwide, activists began making ideological and human connections, especially in Ferguson and Palestine. Ferguson protesters held up signs affirming their solidarity with Palestinians, while Palestinians issued Palestine solidarity statements, including advice on how to deal with tear gas.[iv]

Community Based Environmental Management

Since the concept first came to be widely represented in the conservation community in the early 1990s, Community-Based Environmental Management (CBEM) has been incorporated in conservation and natural resource management initiatives around the world, from integrated conservation and development (ICDP) projects in the buffer zones of protected areas in Nepal to urban forestry initiatives in New York City. The goal of the course is to provide students with information and analysis that will allow them to identify some of the potential problems and pitfalls involved in CBEM along with the tools necessary to create and managed their own projects. To accomplish this, we will combine readings and discussion of academic literature with presentations of specific CBEM case studies by bi-weekly guest speakers. The students will also select a CBEM project close enough to them geographically for easy visits and will use this project as the focus of a series of…

Black Social Movements

Black social movements consistently challenge the marginalization of communities of African descent. In the process of contesting the legitimacy and consequences of physical terror, economic exploitation and cultural misappropriation endured by their communities, social movements throughout the African diaspora have created many of the philosophies, repertoires of collective action and aesthetic traditions that lay at the core of our understanding, and imagination, of black life and political dissent. As this course unfolds, we will closely examine the work of two historical social movements in the African diaspora, Black Power and African Liberation, which envisioned freedom, justice and self-determination for black communities. We will learn about the ideas, tactics and legacies of these movements by conducting interviews with Black Power and African Liberation activists. In addition, we will evaluate the work of black social movements that are currently organizing in their communities. Through our research, readings and class discussions, we will…

Cultural Resistance- The Role of Arts in Social Justice Movements

The growing movement to stem the tide of mass criminalization and incarceration among Black and Latino communities in the US has begun to integrate elements of a radical arts tradition that has been used in a variety of social movements. Using the contemporary anti-prison movement as the primary case study, this course will more generally explore the ways in which the radical arts traditions of music, poetry, film and theater have been influenced by and utilized in a variety of liberation struggles and social justice movements across the African diaspora. Alongside the anti-mass incarceration movement, the course will examine the role of the arts in several historical social justice movements, including, Marcus Garvey’s UNIA Movement, the Black and Latino Power Movements and the anti-Apartheid Movement. The course will consider the mutual impact that arts and social movements have on each other. The historical and theoretical materials will be contextualized by…