Category Archives: Experiences at the Archives

Grassroots Organizing for Change

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Hello there! My name is Jesse Escalante and I am a 21 year old student at San Francisco State University majoring in Sociology and Dance. This past semester I took Grassroots Organizing for Change in Communities of Color that focused on what it actually means to organize and the work that goes into it. One of the requirements was to volunteer at a local grassroots organization. Each week, we had guest speakers from various local organizations speak of their work and how it related to our class material. This is how I first heard of the Freedom Archives and with the help of my professor; I began to volunteer with them.

During my time at Freedom Archives, I added to the collection on control units and super-max prisons, specifically focusing on ADX Florence in Colorado. During this project, I was able to explore the archives and engage with various materials regarding control units (used inter-changeably with super-max) and ADX Florence. I read articles, interviews, letters from prisoners and accessed various media resources, such as video and audio files, which furthered my knowledge about the history of super-max prisons. By the end of my project, I not only had a better grasp of the work Freedom Archives does, but also more information into the use of control units.

Volunteering with Freedom Archives has given me an insight into what it means to be a grassroots organization. Although the work done here is vastly different than the work done in some large non-profit organizations, it still has an impact. Since my internship, I have been able to reflect upon my own K-12 educations compared to college.  I had never even heard the term “super-max prisons” until my internship. Now, I have a better understanding of the ways in which control unit prisons repress movements, torture those locked inside them and isolate people from their community and family. All this information is accessible through their website. Freedom Archives is providing a service greatly needed, especially in a political climate like now. I have benefited from their work and I know others will too. If you’d like to make a donation to support the work of the Freedom Archives, you can do it here.

-Jesse

No Justice No Peace

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Hello,

This clip is taken from a 1988 speech by Ahmed Obafemi of the New Afrikan People’s Organization in San Francisco. Obafemi speaks of the death of Michael Griffith, a Black youth murdered in a racist attack in Howard Beach, New York., and how the Black community came together following Michael’s murder.

 

Learn more about New Afrikan politics here.

No Justice, No Peace!

-Nathaniel

New Collection at the Archives

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Hello everyone,

My name is Casey and I’ve been an intern here at the Freedom Archives since September. As a recently-graduated university student earning a minor in Gender Studies, I was tasked to acquaint myself with the sub-collection “Feminism and Women’s Liberation” and get a feel of how I would incorporate new materials. However, after reviewing many of the materials it became clear that several had a reoccurring, specific theme of Gay Liberation and the LGBTQ movement. This realization led to the construction of our newest sub-collection, “Gay Liberation Movement/LGBTQ Community.”

From the “Feminism and Women’s Liberation” sub-collection, I added several articles, pamphlets, and periodicals specifically relating to the LGBTQ community and would be better placed in Gay Liberation Movement/LGBTQ Community. These materials included, “Artificial Insemination: an alternative conception,” “Confronting Homophobia: Notes on Creating a Lesbian Community, A Matter of Life,” “Ache Periodical” which highlights the voices of Black lesbians, and more…

Gender and Sexuality Collection

Gay Liberation Movement/LGBTQ Collection

Working with the Freedom Archives, with Claude and Nathaniel and the several other progressive volunteers and interns, has given me a wonderful opportunity and privilege in embracing such relevant and important history. Reading through the materials in both of the sub-collections mentioned has been incredibly educational and has opened my eyes to the progression of these social movements. Coming here is the highlight of my week and I am grateful for their necessary presence, organization, and overall engagement both in local and global communities. I will never forget seeing the 2nd-3rd wave Feminist documentary, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,” and getting giddy when they referenced exact materials I had personally handled, read, and been inspired by from our sub-collection “Feminism and Women’s Liberation.”

In solidarity, Casey

The Story of the TSU Five

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Hello,

This multi tsu-five-photo-2 part blog series highlights significant but relatively unknown moments of resistance to racist police violence as depicted in the pages of The Movement. When looking at the stories in The Movement, the continuity between historical events and the emerging movement against police violence comes into sharp focus. Police treatment of Black and Brown people has not changed much, if at all. The murders that are captured on smartphones today and streamed online are not a new phenomenon. They were happening in the 1960’s too, and they were met with rage and resistance then, just like they are today.

In early 1967, Texas Southern University (a historically black college) students and Black residents of Houston began organizing on and off campus. In March, students demonstrated against conditions on campus, which were significantly worse than those at the white college down the street. Their grievances included bad food, early curfews, and a lack of courses in fields like engineering and technology. The administration responded by throwing TSU’s Friends of SNCC chapter off campus, firing the group’s faculty advisor, and working with the local police to have a warrant issued for the arrest of a student organizer.

The administration’s crackdown only further angered students, and their protest expanded. They came forward with new demands, including an increase in faculty salaries, the disarmament of campus police, the removal of the campus dean from the local draft board, a student court for disciplinary cases, and the dropping of all charges against student activists.

In May studenttsu-5-photo-1s joined together with local Black residents to protest poor living conditions and city government neglect. A demonstration in the Sunnyside neighborhood was called after a child drowned in an unfenced city garbage dump. Another was held in Northeast Houston to protest the beating of Black high school students with ax handles and chains. The demonstrations gave city officials an excuse to retaliate against TSU students. On the night of May 16, police officers blockaded the campus. Students gathered and some threw rocks at the police. Soon, hundreds of armed police officers swarmed the campus. They arrested 489 students and opened fire on a dormitory. They shot between 3 and 5,000 rounds of AR-15 shells into the dorm. In the course of the raid, a student and a number of officers were shot, and one officer was killed, almost certainly from ricocheting bullets.

Although the ballistics and coroners reports confirmed that the officer was killed by a .30 bullet (the caliber used by Houston PD), the city used the death as a pretext for crushing the Black movement. They arrested five students known for their political activism–one of whom was actually in jail the night of the raid–and charged them with the murder of the police officer. The students became known as the TSU 5 among activists, who organized support for their defense. Despite the lack of evidence, it took over three years for them to be cleared of charges. In November 1970 a Houston judge finally dropped the charges and the state admitted that the officer probably died from a ricocheting police bullet.

The story of the TSU 5 is told in the pages of The Movement, check out the newspaper here: Page1 Page2

Please help us continue our educational work at the Freedom Archives. You can make an online donation here. Your support really makes a difference!

 

-Laura

Youth Empowerment at the Freedom Archives

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PL cover Spring 2016Hello,

This past spring, the Progressive Librarian, a journal for Critical Studies and Progressive Politics in Librarianship, published an article we wrote entitled “Don’t Trust Anyone Over the Age of 30”: Youth Empowerment and Community Archives. The spring issue recently became available online and we wanted to share the article with you! You can read the article by clicking here.

We’re happy to have been able to share our experiences working with young people and we are excited to welcome two new young people beginning internships with us in the next couple of weeks. You can find more about internships at the Freedom Archives here. Come build with us!!

-Nathaniel

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