Tag Archives: Internship

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

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

Updates to Palestine Collections

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13.JewishAllianceAgainstZionism.flyerOver the past few weeks  I have been working on updating the Freedom Archives’ collections on Human Rights in Palestine and Anti-Zionism. All of the documents in each collection now possess descriptions, as well as a more robust list of searchable keywords. In addition, there are now a few more digitized documents in each collection.13.ZionismApartheid.Periodical 1

Given recent events in Palestine, I think it is especially important to look at some of these documents to be reminded both of the long history of Israeli abuses against Palestinians, and the fact that the Zionist ideology under-girding Israeli oppression is not a universal Jewish position. The Anti-Zionist collection presents numerous view points from individuals and groups opposing the Zionist attempt to claim a legitimate right to Palestinian land. One particular document that stands out is Moshe Menuhin’s essay, “Jewish Critics of Zionism,” which details the history of political Zionism, beginning in 1897 with Theodor Herzl’s World Zionist Organization and the numerous Jewish voices that have spoken out against the oppressive and colonial aspects of Zionism. This document, along with other Anti-Zionist pieces, can be found here.

17.AlHaq.Ketziot.PressRelease 1In the Human Rights in Palestine collection I came across a few interesting and important documents relating to the imprisonment of Palestinians in Israeli detentions camps. Two particular camps, Ketziot and Ansar 2 (the “Shore Camp”), seem especially worthy of mention. Two 1988 reports on the horrible mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners at the Ketzoit camp, one written by lawyer Tamar Peleg Sryck and the other by Palestinian prisoners at the camp, can be found here. In addition, a description of the troubling practice of incarcerating Palestinian youth can be found in the document, “Minors in the Shore Camp,” also written by Tamar Peleg Sryck in 1988.

These documents provide a vivid depiction of Zionist Israel’s abuse of Palestinians and an inspiring reminder of all the voices which oppose the oppressive nature of Zionist ideology. Furthermore, these documents shed light on the ways that current Israeli actions mirror those committed in the past. Each outbreak of conflict in Palestine is not completely new, but is part of a recurring cycle of Israeli colonial violence against the Palestinian people which dates back to the birth of political Zionism and the creation of the Israeli state.

-Jeremy

The Search for Identity

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arianaDuring my third semester at the Freedom Archives I cataloged the raw audio materials of Colin Edwards’ series on Californians of Mexican Descent. In this ten part radio program from the early 1960s, Edwards interviewed Mexican-Americans from various socioeconomic backgrounds in order to create a comprehensive series that grasps the multiplicity of the Mexican-American experience. Through a series of patterned questions asked to each interviewee, themes including conflict over identities, pressures towards assimilation and divisions between generations, were all explored. It was interesting to find that many of the themes present in this series are sentiments that still exist within Chicano/as community. There is an underlying sense of not qualifying as solely Mexican or American, but rather needing to successfully navigate through and occupy both spheres. Although there were many relatable issues, one thing that struck me when listening to these interviews was the various outlooks towards discrimination faced by the Mexican-American community.

Accounts of racial, social and economic discrimination varied amongst the interviewees but having grown up in a predominantly Latino community, I was unaware of discrimination towards Chican@s in educational or professional settings. I never felt like a “minority” in the community which I grew up in and those surrounding me I was always part of a majority population where there was no discrimination based on being “other”. It was not until I moved away for college that I was made so conscious of my ethnicity and culture. At home, it was easy to navigate being Mexican-American because most people were Latino so there was a semblance of a shared experience. Now that I have left that comfort zone and I interact with diverse populations I feel the need to be an American who simultaneously embodies and educates others on the whole Latino experience, who points out the intersections of gender, race and economic standing. In college, a defining feature of my identity is the fact that I am Mexican. I am often questioned about my language, customs and asked to challenge ill-informed stereotypes. At home I am seen as too American because I am not fluent in Spanish and I don’t retain traditional customs and beliefs, I am deviating from my upbringing.

After listening to individuals sharing their sentiments and experiences, I felt a sort of validation. Never before had I worked with materials in an academic setting that explores what for me is a lived reality. Seeing this specific form of social history documented and studied in such a way reinforces the importance of individual lived realities. Even in institutions of higher education where students are actually given the chance to study different histories, they don’t always get the chance to work with such personal accounts that resonate with and reinforce overarching historical themes.

If you would like to support our internship program you can make a donation here.

-Ariana Varela

Puerto Rican Independentistas Speak

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LolitaLebron

Happy New Years,

My name is Erin Hutchinson and I am a sophomore at Mount Holyoke College. I am majoring in History with a focus on the United States. The past two weeks I’ve been interning at the Archives and researching the Puerto Rican independence movement. I gained hands-on experience working with newsletters, pamphlets and monographs, in addition to reel-to-reels and other audio formats. Being exposed to these primary sources was a powerful experience, as these documents challenged the dominant historical narrative and illustrated the colonial relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico. My time at the Archives furthered my understanding of the struggles of the Puerto Rican peoples and the continuing presence of colonialism. Below are two audio clips of Puerto Rican independentistas I digitized:

 

Alejandrina Torres (Lexington Prison):

 

Lolita Lebron (Alderson Prison):

 

-Erin

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