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Archive for the ‘Black community and SLAM’ Category

This oral history project is a work in progress, and we’re learning as we go. We want to share our interview recordings with current student activists and radicals everywhere in the hope that they’ll find wisdom here to enrich their work. We’ll be posting edited segments from the interviews, which are being done in a totally random order. This material is posted under a Creative Commons license. Please feel free to share these links, but please ask permission if you’d like to publish the material (these highlights will probably be going into the book). Thanks!

 Brad Sigal, interviewed 9/8/12 by Suzy Subways

Brad Sigal was in SLAM! from 1996 until 2000, when he left New York. Sigal was part of citywide SLAM! and tried to start a chapter at John Jay College. He transferred to City College of New York (CCNY), where he worked on campaigns to keep admissions open and the college serving the Harlem and Washington Heights communities, as well as catalyzing radical student activism via the Messenger newspaper and graduate student government. He lives in Minnesota, where he is active in rank-and-file union work, the immigrants’ rights movement and socialist politics.

Repression at John Jay College

Sigal tells the story of how the administration at John Jay College, CUNY, tried to talk him out of registering SLAM! as a club there in 1996, because “There’s anarchists and communists in it, and it’s a really bad group of people.” 1 minute, 15 seconds.


 

The Pre-University Program at the Morales/Shakur Center at CCNY

The Pre-University Program, run by the Dominican Youth Union out of the Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center at CCNY, brought hundreds of high school students from Harlem and Washington Heights to the campus each weekend for events and academic support. 1 minute, 37 seconds.


 

How CCNY students defeated the CUNY Card and built solidarity with the community

Sigal explains how important it was to CCNY activists in the 90s to keep the campus open and accessible to the surrounding neighborhoods. Students defeated the CUNY Card initiative at CCNY, opposed arming campus security with guns, and walked picket lines with workers at Harlem Hospital. 2 minutes, 30 seconds.


 

CCNY administration shuts down the Messenger and grad student government

CCNY President Yolanda Moses shuts down the Messenger newspaper and the graduate student government after activists win the elections. 3 minutes, 57 seconds.


 

How activists found out about the surveillance camera aimed at the door of their center

A CCNY janitor tells student activists that the smoke detector outside the Morales-Shakur Center is actually a hidden surveillance camera, aimed right at the door. 2 minutes, 22 seconds.


 

The Little Red Study Group

Sigal tells the story of the Little Red Study Group, which he helped to form with other SLAM! members hoping it could lead to a revolutionary organization for the core founders of SLAM!, who were moving on after graduation. 7 minutes, 47 seconds.

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—> —>  Click here: Mumia_Youth_Rising_2000 to get a closer look at this striking piece of movement literature produced by SLAM! members along with high school student activist interns for a massive hip-hop concert at Hunter College in June 2000. The magazine features an interview with organizer Rachèl LaForest, a poem by Suheir Hammad, an article by Mumia Abu-Jamal, articles by the high school students, and more!

Click on the bold, red text above to see the entire, full-size pdf!

YRfreeYRcoverSuheirPoem

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R2K+10 honors the 10th anniversary of the direct action mobilization against the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in the year 2000.

Please enjoy these audio interviews with 6 former SLAM members who participated in R2K! Here is a short segment with wisdom from everyone:

Kai, Nermeen, Sandra, Anna, Mariano, and Kazembe talk about R2K

Below are the bios of each person and a list of audio segments with descriptions. All interviews were conducted and edited by Suzy Subways.

Kazembe is a writer and cultural organizer from the Bronx, NY, who works at the Brecht Forum. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments:

SLAM’s direct action experience on access to CUNY, police brutality, and political prisoners

Kazembe on R2K’s historical moment

Kazembe on the raid of the Puppet Warehouse

Kazembe’s arrest and jail experience

Kazembe on the lessons of R2K

Complete interview with Kazembe

Nermeen was a SLAM member for 5 years. She is a mother and works with senior community members in Queens. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments:

Nermeen on how the puppets worked with the lockdowns

Nermeen on supporting comrades in jail

Nermeen on flying squads vs. civil disobedience

Nermeen on the tactical successes of R2K

Nermeen on how mentoring worked in SLAM

Complete interview with Nermeen

Kai works with Critical Resistance and has been doing organizing around the prison industrial complex (PIC), which is inclusive of police violence, prisons, jails, courts, surveillance, and political prisoners, since 1978. She also merges visual art and organizing in an effort to reach the imagination and to help spark liberation, whether that’s imagining PIC abolition or being in the year 2078 with multiple genitalia. Click on the links below to listen to these audio segments: (more…)

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photo by Jed

photo by Jed

On June 5th in Philadelphia, Slamistas Kazembe Balagun, Lenina Nadal, Jed Brandt, John Kim, and Sasa Ynoa spoke about SLAM’s innovative approach to organizing and why we were fighting for free university education. This was a combined event called “How do we build radical movements?” with Dan Berger, who (along with Chris Dixon) interviewed people in four revolutionary study groups – Another Politics is Possible (NY), the Activist Study Circles (SF), the LA Crew, and the New York Study Group – talking about leadership, organization, and politics. Their article and an interview by Suzy Subways with 5 women of color from SLAM appeared in the radical journal Upping the Anti, issue #8.

Click on the following links to hear the audio:

Dan Berger

Kazembe Balagun

Q&A with Kazembe, Lenina, Jed, John Kim and Suzy

Q&A continued, with Sasa too

Q&A continued

Due to battery-related challenges, the audio recorder ran out before
the end of the event. Video will be coming soon!

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Student Activists Under Attack at City College of New York for Honoring Black and Puerto Rican Liberation Heroes

Door to The Morales / Shakur Community and Student Center

by Brad Sigal | Fight Back News Service

December 18, 2006

New York, NY – The New York Police Department is on the defensive because of mass outrage over the police’s murder of Sean Bell. Bell, a 23-year old unarmed African American man was killed by the NYPD in a hail of 50 bullets Nov. 25 a few hours before he was going to be married. His murder has sparked large protests against racist police brutality.

Two weeks later, the right-wing New York Daily News tried to create a diversion from the issue of racist police brutality by attacking student activists at the City College of New York (CCNY), accusing them of promoting “cop killers” and “terrorists.” On Dec.12 the Daily News ran a cover story and editorial attacking CCNY’s Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and Student Center, a student-run activist space on the flagship Harlem campus of the City University of New York (CUNY). The Daily News editorial demanded that Shakur and Morales’s names be removed from the Center. (more…)

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A Culture of Resistance

Lessons Learned from the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM)

By Suzy Subways

This interview with 5 women of color from SLAM appeared in the radical journal Upping the Anti, issue #8.

In March 1995, 20,000 students from City University of New York (CUNY) were attacked by police after surrounding city hall to protest a draconian tuition increase. This protest, organized by the CUNY Coalition Against the Cuts, marked an upsurge in student movement activity that continued into 1996, when the group transformed into the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM), a multiracial radical organization. Before disbanding in 2004, SLAM established chapters at CUNY colleges in all five boroughs of the city. This roundtable focuses on the chapter at Hunter College in Manhattan and explores SLAM’s legacy of building a left culture in New York City and across the country. (more…)

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The Politics of Race and Class at CUNY – by Chris Day, 1997

By Christopher Day
Love & Rage Revolutionary Anarchist Newspaper
June/July 1997, Volume 8 Number 3

On Thursday, March 27 about 600 students gathered in City Hall Park to protest proposed budget cuts to the City University of New York (CUNY). Students came from at least a dozen schools. This demonstration was not going to turn into a battle with the cops like the 1995 demonstration of 25,000 students. But nonetheless, it demonstrated the existence of several hundred radical students at CUNY who will turn out for a rally even when the movement is at a low point. Reflecting the composition of CUNY better than previous demonstrations, Black and Latino students were a solid majority of the crowd and the speakers. After the rally much of the crowd marched to the nearest train station and took the subway to Harlem where they joined students at City College in their campus-based “Day of Outrage” against the budget cuts.

The fight against the budget cuts at CUNY has involved complex questions of race and class. The Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!), which organized the demonstration, is a broad-based, open and democratic organization rooted primarily at CUNY and dedicated to fighting the cuts. March 27 was the product of SLAM!’s efforts to develop a principled politics around these problems. Its efforts to navigate the difficult questions of class and race offer valuable lessons for activists facing similar questions elsewhere. (more…)

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The Struggle at CUNY: Open

Admissions and Civil Rights – by Ron

McGuire, 1992

From LeftSpot.com at http://leftspot.com/blog/?q=cunystruggle

The following article provides an excellent background and framework from which to understand the importance of the struggle at the City University of New York. It squarely puts the struggle at CUNY in the framework of a struggle against racism and national oppression. Though it was written in 1992 and therefore some of the data is outdated, it is still an accurate analysis of the struggle at CUNY. This article was printed as a mass newspaper by the CUNY Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!) in 1997. It is reprinted here from an old SLAM website. –LS


The Struggle at CUNY: Open Admissions and Civil Rights

By Ronald B. McGuire, 1992

The movement of the students of the City University of New York (“CUNY”) and their communities against the proposed budget cuts which would result in tuition increases, financial aid cuts and program cutbacks, is a civil rights struggle, not an argument over economics or fiscal policy. CUNY contains the largest number of Black and Latino scholars ever to attend a single university in the history of the United States. The importance of CUNY as a source of opportunity for non-white students and their communities is highlighted by the fact that CUNY traditionally awards the largest number of Master’s degrees to Black and Latino students of any institution in America. Last year CUNY conferred 1,011 Master’s degrees to Black and Latino students while the State University of New York (“SUNY”) awarded only 233. The integration of CUNY has been the most significant civil rights victory in higher education in the history of the United States.

CUNY’s unique policy of open admissions transformed the university from a virtually all-white enclave in the mid-1960’s, to an institution with over 200,000 students, the majority of whom are now Black and Latino. CUNY’s predecessor, the Free Academy, was founded in 1847 for the purpose of providing opportunity for higher education to the poor and disadvantaged of New York City. Ironically, despite the fact that successive generations of immigrants had availed themselves of the opportunity provided by CUNY, it was not until 1969 that the University undertook a commitment to open its doors to students from the Black and Latino communities who had until then been virtually excluded from the CUNY schools.1 In Spring 1969 a strike led by Black and Latino students at City College engendered tremendous community support in favor of the students’ main demand that the ethnic composition of CCNY reflect the ethnic composition of New York City’s high schools. (more…)

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These audio recordings (click on the links below) are from a panel at the CUNY Social Forum, held at City College October 17 to 19, 2008. The panel was an informally organized discussion by some former SLAM members and SLAM fam, along with activists attending the workshop.

How this panel came to be – John Kim (1 minute, 53 seconds)

Suzy Subways, journalist and AIDS activist in Philadelphia, was in Brooklyn College SLAM, worked with High School Organizing Program (5 minutes, 22 seconds): “Women of color in SLAM taught me how to organize”

Orlando Green, National Hip-Hop Political Convention, Blacks Against War, SLAM alum, City College alum, organizer at Baruch College in the 90s (10 minutes, 33 seconds): SLAM’s roots in the Black community and radical people of color organizing

John Kim, SLAM member back in the day, initiated this workshop (5 minutes, 56 seconds): “We knew we needed to build organizational power”

Daniel Tasripin, Hunter College Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Hunter SLAM member 2001-2004 (13 minutes, 34 seconds): “The message came down from 80th Street to Hunter’s president – ‘Enough of these radicals in student government!'”

Hank Williams, in Africana Studies at CUNY grad center, organizing for Black studies doctorate, was in 2nd generation of SLAM at City College (13 minutes, 5 seconds): “SLAM was a movement engine to support larger struggles around the city”

Terry Marshall, Hip-Hop Media Lab, Hip-Hop Sustains, was in Students Organizing for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) at Roxbury Community College in Boston in the 90s (11 minutes, 9 seconds): “We just had this indignation, like ‘They don’t even respect us as human beings…. Fuck that, we’re going to take this building!'”

Questions & Answers

What is the potential for CUNY students to organize high school students?

What was day-to-day SLAM organizing like? And how did it play out with Leninists, anarchists, nationalists working together?

With a high turnover rate among students, how do you bring people in who are interested first thing in September?

Could you adopt a high school, teach the truth, and bring those students into CUNY? The mayor controls the schools, but cats don’t educate mice, they eat them. Also, while we oppose the system, how can we use an above-ground strategy to undermine the 2-party electoral system?

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To listen to these sound files, recorded Oct. 17, 2008, in Harlem at the CUNY Social Forum, click on the links below:

Maria Arettines (moderator), a CUNY Social Forum organizer and Hunter College student: “What are our desires?” (5 minutes, 23 seconds)

Hank Williams, veteran of the Student Liberation Action Movement (SLAM!) and organizer with the Africana Studies Group at the CUNY Graduate Center: The CUNY movement, women of color feminism, and our vision of the university in the aftermath of losing Open Admissions (12 minutes, 31 seconds)

Vanessa James, Parents in Action for Leadership and Human Rights: Fighting Children’s Services for the human right to keep our children from being taken away (10 minutes, 58 seconds)

Mark Torres, former City College student activist, member of the Hostos Educators’ Association: Building organizational power – “Educate, agitate, organize!” (11 minutes, 33 seconds)

Dr. Leonard Jeffries, department of political science, City College; former chair of Black Studies Department: From shattered consciousness and fractured identities to a blueprint for people’s power (21 minutes, 36 seconds)

Luz Schreiber, co-founder of Hunter Parent Union, former member of SLAM and founding member of Ollin Imagination: Dreaming revolution, imagining collective solutions (9 minutes, 40 seconds)

Q&A – Movement elders and students speak and ask questions (41 minutes, 18 seconds)

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