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In Chicago Generation X launched a "Breaking the Chains" campaign to address punitive

policies that have resulted in thousands of expulsions, many accompanied

by police arrests for offenses as minor as snowball fights.



SOS: A Rising Student Movement

By Grace Lee Boggs


     We're tired of school safety screaming in our face,
     Tired of overcrowded rooms and not having a seat
     Tired of guidance counselors busy so no time to meet,
     Tired of the same books and never getting others
     Tired of books being older than my mother's mother.
     And if I was to tell the press that,  they be shook
     'Cause there ain't no such thing as half-way books!

This little poem  by 17 year old Joman Nunez recalls the oft-quoted "sick and tired of being sick and tired" statement by Fannie Lou Hamer,  the Mississippi sharecropper, civil rights activist  and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which almost unseated the  regular segregationist delegation at the 1964 Democratic Party convention.

I came across it in  "A Rising Movement, " an article in the spring 2006 National Civic Review by Kivatha Mediratta,  senior project director of the New York University Institute for Education and Social Policy. Additional information on this rising movement  can be found on Pipeline,  the newsletter of Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO)  which supports "authentic youth leadership in public life."

These struggles have been triggered by the refusal of most educators and adults   to recognize that youth violence and dropouts are a sign that today's schools, structured a hundred years ago at the beginning of the industrial age, are now obsolete.  Instead, like most administrators of outmoded institutions, they have resorted to security and punitive measures.

Thus, in  the late 1980s, following a rise in juvenile crime,  school districts across the country began developing zero tolerance policies such as suspensions and expulsions for tardiness, skipping  classes etc.  Then they began replacing elected school boards with Mayoral control or state-appointed boards.  When the situation didn't improve, they brought in armed police, metal detectors and surveillance cameras.  Currently, in accordance with Bush's "No Child Left Behind" act,  they are replacing any semblance of education with "teaching to the test."

Students are responding by protest marches and proposals for systemic changes.

Last September 1500 New York City students walked out of Dewitt Clinton High School and marched two miles to their school district headquarters to protest the use of metal  detectors in their schools.

In Chicago Generation X launched a "Breaking the Chains" campaign to address punitive policies that have resulted in thousands of expulsions, many accompanied by police arrests for offenses as minor as snowball fights.

Milwaukee's Urban Underground succeeded in stopping MPS  from placing armed police officers in every major high school.

In Portland, Oregon, Sisters in Action for Power proposes that high stakes testing bereplaced by alternative methods to assess progress, e.g. portfolios and work samples.

At the Leadership Institute, a small high school in the Bronx, Sistas and Brothas United (SBU) suggests that community research and action programs be part of the curriculum.

In New York City a youth organization, calling itself Make the Road by Walking (MRBW), has joined with SBU, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Mothers on the Move and the Institute for Education and Social Policy to form the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) to create a city-wide agenda for high school reform.

Most educators, and administrators,  Mediratta writes,  find it difficult to comprehend this new "phenomenon" of youth struggle because they expect young people  to focus on individual rather than collective and systemic solutions.

On the other hand, everyone concerned with saving our schools and our young people needs to encourage these struggles because they have the potential for creating the kind of Freedom Schooling which, instead of seeking to train young people  to become cogs in the economic machine,  recognizes and nurtures  them as change agents who can respirit and make our neighborhoods safer and livelier almost overnight.

Recommended reading: Freedom Schooling: Bringing the neighbor back intothe 'hood. 79 pages, $10+$2 SH,, Boggs Center, 3061 Field St., Detroit 48214 or

Source: Michigan Citizen, May 21-27, 2006

posted 22 May 2006

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Grace Lee Boggs is an activist, writer, and speaker whose sixty years of political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of this century:  Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, Asian American, Women's and Environmental Justice. Born in Providence, R.I. of Chinese immigrant parents in l915, Grace received her B.A. from Barnard College in l935 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College in l940.  

In the l940s and l950s she worked with West Indian Marxist historian C.L.R.James  and in l953 she came to Detroit where she married James Boggs,  African American labor activist, writer and strategist. Working together in grassroots groups and projects, they were partners for over 40 years until James' death in July l993.

Their book, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century,  was published by Monthly Review Press in l974. In l992, with James Boggs and others, she founded DETROIT SUMMER, a multi-cultural, intergenerational youth program to rebuild, redefine and respirit Detroit from the ground up which completed its ninth season in June 2000.  Currently she is active in the Detroit Agricultural Network, the Committee for the Political Resurrection of Detroit, writes for the  weekly Michigan Citizen, and does a monthly commentary on WORT (Madison, Wisconsin). 

Her autobiography, Living for Change,  published  by the University of Minnesota Press in March l998, now in its second printing, is widely used in university classes on social movements and autobiography writing. --

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The Price of Civilization

Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperity

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Price of Civilization is a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities. 

Sachs describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. . . . Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly).

Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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