Icons: Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson among a crowd of racially integrated shipyard workers in Oakland, California,  performing the Star Spangled Banner.

Paul Robeson among a crowd of racially integrated shipyard workers in Oakland, California, performing the Star Spangled Banner.

The name Paul Robeson may be unfamiliar to many Americans, young and old. But why is this name important? Why should this man’s name be imbedded into the public’s consciousness? There are many reasons why Paul Robeson still matters today. Principally, Robeson exemplified the “conscious” artist driven by strong convictions. He represented the cause of the people of color against racial discrimination. He was the type of artist who saw it as a personal duty and obligation to use his talents and influence to advance social causes, causes that went beyond the theatrical stage. No other statement captures the essence of his ideology and his self-imposed obligation to social change, than when he famously exclaimed, “the artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice. I had no alternative.” Throughout his life, Robeson lived by this motto. No matter how viciously the American media slandered his name, or how greatly he was persecuted by the government for his socialist inclinations, he continued to fight against racism and support liberation struggles. Robeson was never dissuaded from following his personal and moral convictions, including his great admiration of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union.
(more…)

Pan Am Blackbirds

Black Bird Alice Dear

Black Bird Alice Dear

Its prestige and notoriety exemplify a bygone era of travel during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Many became familiar with Pan American World Airways’s glory via the television series that aired on ABC. Specific words are synonymous with the historical international carrier, especially regarding their iconic flight attendants (then known as stewardesses): elegance, glamour, class, sophistication, allure, glitzy status…Pan Am’s history is certainly intriguing! But what is most empowering is the influence stewardesses had on overcoming social injustice within the airline industry. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the world’s largest flight attendant union, commented:

“The Pan Am drama may be a nostalgic escape to the days before deregulation, but it also highlighted the myriad of social injustices overcome by the strong women who shaped a new career. Weight checks, girdle checks, the no marriage rule, sexism, gender discrimination, racism—all of this was challenged by intelligent, visionary women who helped to usher in the call for social change throughout the country and around the world.”
(more…)

One Billion Rising

The One Billion Rising for Justice Campaign called on women and men from around the world to rise up and dance for justice! Last year on Valentine’s Day, over one billion people in 207 countries gathered together, demanding an end to violence against women and girls. This movement aims to create global solidarity between women’s organizations in various countries and to build a supportive sisterhood amongst women around the world. This event makes sure that violence against women is impossible to ignore; creating a safe and free space for violated women to tell their stories and healing their trauma by dancing in public, open spaces.

(more…)

#BlackTwitter

brightlights2

#BlackTwitter represents an online community within mainstream Twitter where account holders broadcast clever tweets concerning the Black American experience. Statistics indicate that Black tweeters make up 25% percent of Twitter, which is larger than any other racial group. This explains the impact that Black Twitter has within the Twitter mainstream. As Black Twitter trends go viral, usually due to their humorous relevance to current or social events, the wave momentum of the hashtag, or “Blacktag,” often carries the weight of influencing the actions of the hashtag’s target. For example, viral Blacktags have triggered Paula Deen’s apology for using the n-word, a murder trial juror’s book deal being dropped, and the cancellation of Zimmerman’s celebrity fight match.
(more…)

STOP and FLY

St. Edmonds Tenants of Chicago Protesting for Better Housing Conditions. Image Courtesy of STOP.

St. Edmonds Tenants of Chicago Protesting for Better Housing Conditions. Image Courtesy of STOP.

STOP and FLY are two grassroots organizations bringing together residents from the Southside of Chicago to fight back against injustice. In an area that is known for its lower-income residents and higher crime rates, it is important for the community to empower themselves and demonstrate for their needs.

Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP) brings the community together and has two focuses: mental health and housing. STOP tries to erase the stigma of mental illness and mental health services. While doing so, the organization rallies for the right to healthcare. One example of the Southside residents’ effort was the continuous petitioning for a trauma center in their area so people could receive needed the medical care. Through cooperation with different tenant associations, STOP advocates to improve housing in the neighborhood. The Housing Justice Program also works with subsidized housing councils in order to liaise for their stakeholders’ rights.
(more…)

Hashtag Activism

jiatweetFor two weeks in August 2014, it seemed the entire country’s attention was turned toward an unknown suburb outside of St. Louis, Missouri: Ferguson. Even with serious competition for media headlines – from conflict in Israel, to the spread of Ebola, and the violence of ISIS – for a period of time, Ferguson was on the front page of what seemed like every news site, blog, and piece of print media in the US.
(more…)

No Justice, No PROFITS

Image Courtesy of PBS

Image Courtesy of PBS

On the heels of the announcement in Ferguson right before Thanksgiving that Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the killing of unarmed Missouri youth Michael Brown, the call was issued for Black Americans to boycott the national day of shopping, Black Friday. The goal was to call attention to the elimination of racial injustice and, especially, an immediate end to police brutality against people of color. The rationale is based on reports that indicate how the combined buying power of Black people in America is expected to be $1.1 trillion by 2015. This means that African Americans across the board are very influential when it comes to how and where their dollars are spent and, therefore, are a tremendous financial asset to the United States (which, let’s face it, has always been the case). When you compare this fact with the reality that Blacks across the U.S. earn less than Whites and are unemployed at more than double the national average, it puts into context the insult that is being added to injury with ongoing injustices that African Americans, and other people of color, face within the legal system and institutions. Therefore, a boycott has been declared.
(more…)

Be Part of the Solution

Former Social Media Designer Claudie Mabry, Principal Organizer Robin Hayes, Policy Associate Justyn Richardson and former Blog Editor Justin Jones

Many of you have asked Progressive Pupil, where is “the movement” going next?  Honestly, that depends on all of us.  This cycle of collective action is eschewing the charismatic leadership models of the past and encouraging all of us to work together and participate how we see fit. Don’t think of this movement as a giant in the hillside who is separate from you and able to sustain itself without your support. In fact, it is simply the collective work of your neighbors, colleagues, students, friends and families who are working together to be part of the solution.  

(more…)

The Restorative Justice of Project NIA

Image Courtesy of Project NIA

Image Courtesy of Project NIA

Chicago is well-known for more than just being a beautiful city. Like many other large cities, Chicago has a major problem with juvenile delinquency. Every day more and more organizations, both new and old, work to change the system that is more punitive, than rehabilitative to the youth it serves.

One of the up and coming initiatives for addressing criminal behavior among young people is Restorative Justice. Instead of looking at the crime as an offense against the state and punitively throwing the offender into jail, the system would look at the crime at the victim/offender/community level. There would be a dialogue between the victim, the offender, and the community affected that would require the offender to take responsibility for the harm caused. Some of the faces of this would be an apology or community service depending on the nature of the crime.
(more…)

Capturing Puerto Rico: a “Nation on the Move”

frank_espada 1

Those who study Puerto Rico are familiar with the phrase La nación en vaivén (Nation on the move). This phrase described the Puerto Rican diaspora, how Puerto Ricans would move “back and forth” between the Caribbean island, the United States and elsewhere.
(more…)