Activists on systemic poverty and oppression issues challenge Occupy Wall Street movement

[As the OccupyWall Street movement has spread nationwide, it has ignited widespread interest and involvement.  And, inevitably, there have been efforts to restrict the focus to concerns of recent arrivals to the short end of the financial crisis–to unite in populist opposition to corporate greed.  This is, in some places, coupled with an embrace of police restrictions–and blocking issues of police abuse or even “know your rights” training; or, an embrace of Democratic party candidates–and blocking attempts to maintain the independence of the movement; or, an insistence on non-violence pledges, though many activists utilize a full range of tactics, including self-defense and militant actions when needed; or, a restrictive “screening” of groups which are opposed to political repression. This has led to a discussion on the significant role played by the Black Liberation movement and other urban liberation activists–black, white, brown–in alliances and joint work developed over many years.  Uprising Radio has a segment on this issue, as it found expression in the 60s and 70s. — Frontlines ed.]

“Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power”

October 6, 2011

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After much internal criticism that the Occupy Wall Street protests were run by largely white activists, ignorant of the differences in economic oppression facing minorities, a new People of Color working group has been formed. According to a public statement put out by the group calling on people of color to join Occupy Wall Street, “[t]he economic crisis did not begin with the collapse of the Lehman Brothers in 2008. Indeed, people of color and poor people have been in a state of crisis since the founding of this country, and for indigenous communities, since before the founding of the nation.” The statement ends saying “The People of Color working group is not meant to divide, but to unite, all peoples.” Inter-racial activism has a long, rich history among American progressives. A new book by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy examines the history of activism in the 1960s and how radical organizations of different racial backgrounds came together to protest war and racial inequality. These included not just a handful of college-educated white activists, but groups of organized poor white working class youth, coming together with the Black Panthers and Young Lords. The book, “Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels, and Black Power,” is based on ten years of first person interviews with 60s era activists who redefined the concept of community organizing.

GUEST: James Tracy is a long-time anti-poverty activist based in Oakland, an Adult Education instructor, and poet.

James Tracy will be at Book Soup on Thursday October 6th at 7 pm, 8818 Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood.


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