Thursday, February 11, 2016

`Farewell To Claudia Jones'--(lyrics by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn)

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn poem/lyrics

Nearer and nearer drew this day, dear comrade,
When I from you sadly part
Day after day, a dark foreboding sorrow
Crept through my anxious heart.

No more to see you striding down the pathway,
Nor more to see your smiling eyes and face
No more to hear your gay and pealing laughter
No more to feel your love, in this sad place.

How I will miss you, words will fail to utter,
I am alone, my thoughts unshared these weary days,
I feel bereft and empty, on this dreary, gray morning,
Facing my lonely future, hemmed by prison ways.

Sometimes I feel you've never been in Alderson,
So full of life, so detached from here you seem,
So proud of walk, of talk, of work, of being,
Your presence here is like a fading dream.

Yet as the sun shines now, through fog and darkness,
I feel a sudden joy that you are gone,
That once again you walk the streets of Harlem,
That today for you at least is Freedom's dawn.

I will be strong in our common faith, dear comrade,
I will be self-sufficient, to our ideals firm and true,
I will be strong to keep my mind and soul outside a prison,
Inspired by ever loving memories of you.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Students Call for Columbia University Administration To Divest Itself Of Its Stock In Companies Doing Business In Israel

In early February 2016, the Columbia University Apartheid Divest student group stated the following in its initial press release:
"It is against the backdrop of Columbia and Barnard students’ history of moral commitment to social, political, and economic justice that we, as members of Columbia University Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, come together as Columbia University Apartheid Divest to call for the University to divest its stocks, funds, and endowment from companies that profit from the State of Israel’s ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation, and apartheid law. This campaign is embedded in the larger Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed toward the State of Israel until it complies with international law by:
"1.  Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall; 
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.
"On June 22nd 2015, the Columbia University Board of Trustees voted to sell its stocks in Corrections Corporation of America and G4S, making Columbia the first academic institution in the United States to divest from the private prison industryThis victory, achieved through the tireless work of Columbia Prison Divest, inspired in student organizers a renewed dedication to hold the Columbia administration accountable for maintaining global systems of oppression.
"This was not, however, the first of such movements. On October 7th 1985, under the pressure of student activists, the Board of Trustees voted to sell $41 million of its endowment investments in American companies with ties to South Africa. In doing so, Columbia became the first Ivy League university to divest from Apartheid South Africa.  
"Thanks to the efforts of our allies at Columbia Prison Divest, Columbia has already divested from G4S, a private prison corporation that profits from the incarceration of Palestinian political prisoners470 of whom are child prisonersequips military checkpoints and the Apartheid Wall with security technologies, and enables the expansion of illegal settlements by providing security technology. We must continue the hard work of divesting from corporations that fuel and maintain the State of Israel’s continued human rights abuses. As Columbia University Apartheid Divest, we call upon the University to divest its endowment from the following corporations that profit from Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights: Caterpillar, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Elbit Systems, Mekorot, Hapoalim, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.
"By investing in such companies, Columbia actively supports Israel’s continued occupation of and assaults against the Palestinian people, including the most recent military operation on the Gaza Strip which claimed over 2,104 Palestinian lives, including 1,462 civilians, of whom 495 were children and 253 womenaccording to the UN. The Israeli Defense Forces use technologies such as F-16 fighter jets, GBU-9 small diameter bombs, and Apache helicopters produced by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing. These companies directly profit from the ceaseless military violence faced by Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights.
"Columbia students are implicated through the University’s investments in these same companies. The movements to divest from the prison industrial complex and Apartheid South Africa have shown us that divestment at Columbia is an effective way of ending our institutional complicity in global systems of oppression. In both movements, it was a coalition of activists on campus that courageously spoke truth to power and challenged our institution to maintain its principles of human dignity. Columbia University Apartheid Divest is inspired by this legacy.
"We demand that Columbia University end its investments in Israeli Apartheid.
"We call upon the Columbia community to support Palestinian human rights.
"We stand united for justice.

Demand Columbia divest from apartheid. Sign our petition today

The first ever Apartheid Divest event will be this Thursday 2/4. **This event has been MOVED to 7pm** For more information, check our facebook: BDS 101

Thursday, December 3, 2015

`Ballad To Claudia Jones' (lyrics by Label Nibur)

Label Nibur's poem/lyrics:

There's a woman who walks this might land
With a queenly grace goes she
In her struggles she never stands alone
For look at her company.

Harriet Tubman is at her side
"Good cheer, Claudia," cries she
"The slavers also wanted my head
But our brave people still fought free."

John Brown is with her wherever she goes
And his voice rings clear as a bell
"I died to uphold the spirit of equality
Defend it till the freezing of Hell."

And the martyred Nat Turner is here with her too,
Staunch Nat with never a doubt
"I staggered the slavers of my day, Daughter,
Defeat yours and knock them out."

And giant and tall against the wall,
Denmark Vessey speaks out his mind
"I defeated the cruel masters of my day, Daughter,
Finish off their modern kind."

Fred Douglass and Garrison are here with her too,
And the people of every land
Stand shoulder to shoulder with Claudia Jones
She speaks...and they understand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

`Equal Pensions For All!'

See the people marching and cheering for the Cause
Hear the old folks singing and chanting to applause:
"The low pay that you gave us for the worst jobs made us poor
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'

"For fifty years you forced us to work for minimum wage
And forced us to be robots and labor as your slaves
And in order to get hired, you forced us all to crawl
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'

"From all of your temp agencies and factories that you shut down
And all your laid-off workers and all your mortgage loans
You made yourself big money by breaking labor laws
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'

"You inflated your own salaries, while watching us clean your floors
And gave yourself large pensions to play golf in Florida
While we all starve in cities to pay rent to your landlords
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'

"You chained us to computers in your office skyscrapers
Or fired all who rebelled in your restaurants and stores
You did not pay more taxes on the profits you made from War
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'"

Yes, see the people marching and cheering for the Cause
Hear the old folks singing and chanting to applause:
"The low pay that you gave us for the worst jobs made us poor
So now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'
Yes, now we demand: `Equal Pensions For All!'"

A protest folk song from 2015 that explains why all retired workers in the United States (regardless of their racial, gender or class background) should receive an equal and adequate amount of pension money annually from the U.S. economic system and U.S. government in the 21st-century.

Monday, July 6, 2015

`New Freedom Ride'

They picked up guitars
And they sang out the truth
And broadsides they hurled at the world.
The poetry they wrote
It left people moved
And helped wake up many lost souls.

Pete and Joan
They sang out alone
In the Village, in Cambridge, in Newport.
And Bob and Phil
Protested Evil
And pointed their fingers at wrong.

Peter, Paul and Mary
They joined up with Judy
And freedom called over the air.
And Odetta and Buffy
Sang out their songs roughly
That peace it was better than war.

Richard and Mimi
Packed sorrows up freely
And Ritchie, he kept on the path.
And Gordon and Sis
They didn't give up
And Gil, he taught others his craft.

Freedom Singers and Tom
Spread the alarm
And Dave sang his blues out with soul.
And over in England
Peggy and Ewan
The danger in mines, they exposed.

The years have flown by
And people still cry
And the screen world is still filled with lies.
And some they still try
While others have died
And it's time for a New Freedom Ride.

Yes, they picked up guitars
And they sang out the truth
And broadsides they hurled at the world.
The poetry they wrote
It gave people hope
And helped wake up many lost souls.

Written in the 1990's, this protest folk song pays tribute to the protest folk singers, protest folk songsmiths and protest folk music scene of the late 1950's and early 1960's; and calls for a "New Freedom Ride" in the music scene of the 21st-century. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Columbia Students Oppose Columbia University's West Harlem-Manhattanville Construction Project--Part 10

In October 2014, the Columbia Student Coalition Against Gentrification (CAGe) released a


, titled Understanding Columbia University's Expansion into West Harlem: An Activist's Guide, which indicated why many Columbia students, Barnard students and neighborhood residents in Morningside Heights, West Harlem and Manhattanville are apparently still opposed to the Columbia University Administration's Kravis Business School construction/campus expansion project in West Harlem/Manhattanville. As the report notes:

"(June 4, 2014) The District Attorney's Criminal Enterprise Unit and the NYPD's Gang Division conduct the largest 'gang raid' in the history of New York City. The operation uses four years of investigative work, nearly a hundred million dollars, and thousands of hours of surveillance observation to indict 103 teenagers and young adults for charges of conspiracy and assault. The defendants are all residents of the Grant and Manhattanville public housing projects, in the immediate vicinity of Columbia University. In actuality, the indicted are not members of formal gangs. Rather they are either involved or loosely affiliated in a violent inter-project rivalry that claimed two lives from 2011-2014. For years parents had organized to find community-based solutions to problems in their neighborhood, from family brokered truces, job counseling, school reform, and the construction of a welcoming playground and community center. They are dismayed to learn that all the while the city had spent millions spying on their children to criminalize even the most tenuous connection to the violence.
"In an open letter to University affiliates, Vice President of Columbia Public Safety, James McShane, celebrates the raids as a moment of progress for West Harlem. He claims that the affair is the result of a `long-term collaboration between local law enforcement agencies.'. What this means precisely, is left unclear. McShane himself has deep ties to the NYPD, having held positions of leadership in four different precincts in the Bronx. During the 1990’s, he was also on the staff of then Deputy Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (one of the masterminds of stop-and-frisk, and later head Commissioner of the NYPD under Mayor Bloomberg). 
In addition, McShane promises in his letter that the University will significantly increase its surveillance and patrol operations throughout Manhattanville. This initiative is to include plain clothed police squads, sky watchtowers, `an extensive system of video cameras,' and an escort service for Columbia students. The document does not so much as mention the hardships endured by local families. Nor does it reveal that the University is responsible for robbing West Harlem of thousands of employment opportunities, on a site immediately across from Manhattanville Houses. Manhattanville public housing, much like the rest of the New York City Housing Authority, suffers from a 27% unemployment rate. When neighborhood parents critique the city's strategies in addressing issues of criminal justice, Columbia offers more of the same, only on an expanded scale....Columbia’s Public Safety Program collaborated with the NYPD as they finished their multi-million dollar surveillance operation to formulate the last of their criminal indictments...."