Produced by Partners for Dignity & Rights, we explore and celebrate the work of poor people's movements, particularly in the US. We highlight innovative and powerful organizing campaigns and community building led by women, LGBTQ folks, Black communities and other people of color, that are pushing the boundaries and have the potential to transform this society.Hosted by Max Rameau, a Haitian-born Pan-African theorist, campaign strategist, organizer, author and member of Pan-African Community Action.
A World Without Police: Geo Maher, Andrew Hairston, & Tafari Melisizwe
DSC Communications Coordinator Tafari Melisizwe and Coordinating Committee Member Andrew Hairston of Texas Appleseed join organizer, writer, and radical political theorist Geo Maher for a robust conversation on policing and social justice movements. The episode begins with Geo laying out the ideas of his book A World Without Police, and then continues with a conversation with Tafari and Andrew about translating these ideas to the work of getting police out of schools and transforming society.
Geo Maher is an abolitionist educator, organizer, and writer based in Philadelphia. He has taught previously at the University of Pennsylvania, Vassar College, Drexel University, San Quentin State Prison, and the Venezuelan School of Planning in Caracas, and has held visiting positions at the CUNY Graduate Center, the Decolonizing Humanities Project at the College of William & Mary, NYU’s Hemispheric Institute, and the Institute of Social Research at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He is the author of five books: We Created Chávez (2013); Building the Commune (2016); Decolonizing Dialectics (2017); A World Without Police (2021); and Anticolonial Eruptions (2022); and co-editor of the Duke University Press book series Radical Américas.
Andrew Reginald Hairston is a civil rights attorney and writer who serves as the Education Justice Project Director of Texas Appleseed. In this role, he engages in public policy advocacy and works with community groups to diminish the presence and influence of school police officers across the state of Texas. In recognition of these efforts, Andrew served as a 2019 Law for Black Lives Fellow, along with Tyler Whittenberg of Advancement Project’s National Office. Along with Khem Irby, he is a 2022-23 co-chair of the Dignity in Schools Campaign’s Coordinating Committee. He earned his law degree from Louisiana State University in May 2016, where he was a Faculty Scholar. Andrew received his bachelor's degree, cum laude, from Howard University. From 2017 to 2019, Andrew served as a staff attorney at Advancement Project in Washington, D.C.
Tafari Melisizwe is a passionate educator, brand strategist, graphic designer & photographer based in Chicago. He joined the Dignity in Schools Campaign as Communications Coordinator in April 2018. Tafari is the owner and operator of The Indigenous Lens, a photography company that works to connect heritage and beauty through the art of visual conversation. Tafari also is a Facilitator-in-Training at AYA Educational Institute, an African-Centered educational and leadership development organization that facilitates a myriad of trainings, workshops and one-on-one sessions designed to heal alienation, heal toxic communication patterns and other wounds born of oppression. Previously, he Co-Directed HABESHA-Baltimore, a Pan-African organization that cultivates leadership in youth and families through practical experiences in cultural education, sustainable agriculture, entrepreneurship, holistic health, and technology.
Links for more information:
Dignity in Schools
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Governing Power: Movement Strategies in the US and the Global South: With Elianne Farhat, Faduma Fido, Tarson Núñez, & Kesi Foster
Today on the show: a special panel discussion featuring leaders who are utilizing co-governance strategies in organizing. Hear from Elianne Farhat of TakeAction Minnesota, Faduma Fido of People’s Economy Lab, and Tarson Núñez, member of the Governance Board of People Powered. The discussion is moderated by Kesi Foster, Co-Executive Director of Partners for Dignity & Rights.
Elianne Farhat (she/her) is the executive director of TakeAction Minnesota and has been a leader in many successful local, state and national campaigns throughout her 15 years of community, labor, and electoral organizing. Elianne’s commitment to building power in poor and working class communities of color has been a constant thread through her diverse work experience – whether that be while organizing New American voters in Chicago, electing Minnesota’s first progressive governor in more than 20 years, or advancing strategic campaigns securing historic policy wins for millions of working families. Elianne is the first in her Lebanese father’s family to be born in the United States and of Lakota (Standing Rock) descent on her mother’s side. She serves on the board of People’s Action and is the recent recipient of the Joan Growe Award for Distinguished Commitment to Expanding Access to Democracy and Justice.
Faduma Fido is passionate about public service and has worked in the intersection of community and economic development over the past decade. After transitioning to Peoples Economy Lab, Faduma has focused on programs and models that elevate community participation in policy design and decision-making spaces. She believes that community-oriented programs coupled with equitable policy design is one of the most equitable ways to mitigate lack of resources for under-served communities. Faduma has a Bachelor’s in Economics and English from the University of Washington and a Master's in Public Administration from Seattle University.
Tarson Núñez is a doctor in political science who is currently participating in a post-doctoral project at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He works as a social researcher at the Department of Economy and Statistics at the Secretary of Planning of the State Government of Rio Grande do Sul. His experience with participatory democracy started as an activist and adviser for the urban social movements in Brazil in the early eighties. At the beginning of the nineties, he worked at the Porto Alegre Municipal government, as the head of the Planning Office, in charge of the Participatory Budgeting process in the city. At the beginning of the two-thousands, he was the director of the Urban and Regional Development Department of the state government, when they launched PB at the state level. In the same period, he worked as a volunteer in the first versions of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. He is also a member of the governance board of People Powered, an international association for participatory democracy.
Links for more information:
Co-Governing Towards Multiracial Democracy Report
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Cooperatives Challenging Capitalism: Tamara Prosper and Tamah Yisrael of Cooperation New Orleans
Host Max Rameau talks with leaders of the Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund: Tamah Yisrael, the Education and outreach coordinator, and Tamara Prosper, the Loan Steward. Together, they discuss unions, capitalism, and organizing for cooperative economics in the deep south.
Tamara Prosper is the Loan Steward at Cooperation New Orleans. She is an avid reader and writer who grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, came to New Orleans for a college education, graduated, got married, and decided to make New Orleans her home. Tamara has worked in non-profit fundraising and development, program management, education, long-term care as a Social Services Director, then as a Nursing Home Administrator. She’s worked as a Dementia Care Coach and a stay-at-home mom. Most recently, in an effort to address the root causes of illnesses and injuries that create a need for long term care services, her work included addressing the social determinants of health and managing primary care offices.
She’s also an entrepreneur. With her husband, Tamara owns Sheaux Fresh Sustainable Foods, a 12 year old business dedicated to making fresh produce accessible to all members of our community. She also owns a tour and travel planning service called Legacy Tours, and in 2017 published a book called, “The Elders.”
Tamah Yisrael is currently organizing a cooperative movement and is education and outreach coordinator of Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund. She is also Chief Solutions Officer of TMH Financial Services LLC and a member of Resolve Financial Cooperative. She established her firm in October 2018 to provide business development, bookkeeping and management services to small businesses, nonprofits, and social impact enterprises in the Greater New Orleans Area. She currently provides Outsourced Executive Director Services to Builders of the Highway Foundation (BOTH Foundation) a national nonprofit. Under her leadership BOTH Foundation has merged the Temple of Brothers of Sisters of Goodwill and Neo Jazz School of Music under its umbrella and has developed educational community centers in New Orleans, Miami, and Orlando. She is also a partner of Yisrael Records Inc. an independent record label and producer of jazz and contemporary music who provides management of local artist such as the Yisrael Trio.
Her community advocacy efforts are focused on cultural awareness, social justice, and access to healthy foods. In her role as President of the board of directors for the New Orleans Food Coop, she was able bridge the connection in all three of these sectors. Additionally, she has been recognized by the Metro Birmingham Branch of the NAACP in its Annual Salute to Outstanding African American for her contributions to culture and youth of the community. She is a graduate of the Foundation for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative LEAD Community Training Program, UNO’s Community Development Finance program, Cooperation Works’ Art & Science of Cooperative Development. She continues to serve community on various committees and working groups to build a more equitable society.
For more on the topics we discussed, see these links:
Cooperation New Orleans website
Local article on Cooperation New Orleans
Cooperation New Orleans linktree
Cooperation New Orleans Instagram page
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Our Struggle is to Indigenize: Judith Le Blanc of Native Organizers Alliance
Host Max Rameau talks with Judith Le Blanc of the Native Organizers Alliance. Together, they discuss organizing in Native nations, protecting sacred spaces, lessons from Standing Rock, and celebrating victories.
Judith LeBlanc is a member of the Caddo Tribe who has an endless appetite for fry bread, an inter-tribal culinary delight! As the executive director of Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), she has learned many intertribal secrets to good fry bread. She leads a national Native training and organizing network which supports tribes, traditional societies, and grassroots community groups in urban and tribal communities. Judith is part of a growing circle of Indian Country leaders who understand the necessity for an organized, durable ecosystem of Native leaders and organizers who lead with traditional values.
NOA leads learning circles, training, and strategic planning sessions to support Native leaders in organizing the grassroots movements for structural reforms, leading to Native sovereignty and racial equity for all. Judith has worked since 2016 with the Brave Heart Society, a traditional Dakota women’s society, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe on the Mni Wakan Wizipan. It is a project to re-establish the Yankton Sioux and other Oceti Sakowin tribes’ inherent rights to co-management the Missouri River bio-region. Judith is a board member of IllumiNative and chair of the board of NDN. She is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow.
To learn more about the topics we discussed:
Native Organizers Alliance
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Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools: With Janice Harper, Kameisha Smith, Katie Coates & Tafari Melisizwe
On this episode, Mississippi organizers discuss their work to end state sanctioned violence in schools.
We explore the statistics behind the fight to end corporal punishment in Mississippi and the other 18 states where it is still legal, and how Mississippi organizers have made progress in this crucial fight for change.
This a fight for human rights, children's rights, dignity, and respect. Whether it's in schools, the workplace, or judicial systems, punishment is more readily and harshly given to people of color, especially on the bodies of Black boys and girls. From being used as a tool of domination and control on the plantation to a tool of correction in our schools, from whips to paddles to policies, we've taken the last lash!
Janice Harper, Mississippi Coalition to End Corporal Punishment
Kameisha Smith, Nollie Jenkins Family Center
Katie Coates, Cooperation Jackson
Moderated by Tafari Melisizwe, Dignity in Schools Campaign
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Co-Governing Toward Multiracial Democracy: With Brooke Floyd, Rosie Grant, Shaw San Liu and Ben Palmquist
On this episode, leaders from Black and immigrant community organizations discuss their work and draw out lessons and challenges for communities and local governments interested in working together to advance racial and economic justice. They discuss their fights for safe water infrastructure, stopping wage theft, combating police violence, and building restorative justice in schools. Featuring:
Brooke Floyd, People’s Advocacy Institute
Rosie Grant, Paterson Education Fund
Shaw San Liu, Chinese Progressive Association-San Francisco
Moderated by Ben Palmquist, Partners for Dignity & Rights
For over 20 years, Brooke Floyd has supported Mississippi children as a volunteer, AmeriCorps Tutor & Special Projects Coordinator, and as a public school & Head Start teacher. She previously served as the Director of Children’s Services at Stewpot Community Services. Brooke is currently the Coordinator for JXN People’s Assembly at People’s Advocacy Institute, engaging the community through education, providing access to information and resources, facilitating Assemblies, and bringing proposed solutions to elected officials. Brooke graduated from Tougaloo College and holds a M.S.Ed. from Jackson State University and an M.A.T. from Belhaven University.
Rosie Grant is the Executive Director of the Paterson Education Fund (PEF), where she has given 28 years of educational leadership. Rosie has trained more than 500 students and adults to be workshop facilitators including Restorative Practices circle keepers, as well as worked to support relationship building, reduce suspensions, and promote student social and emotional well-being. She is skilled at convening cross-sector partnerships for education and leading difficult public dialog, particularly in the areas of multicultural communications and anti-racism.
Shaw San Liu is the Executive Director at the Chinese Progressive Association. In her 14 years at CPA, Shaw San led the development of grassroots organizing and leadership development programs with the Tenant Worker Center, which includes services for low-wage Chinese immigrant workers and tenants living in San Francisco’s Chinatown. She also spearheaded campaign and alliance building to advance policy on labor and economic issues in the Bay Area. She co-founded the Progressive Worker Alliance, an alliance of low-wage worker centers in San Francisco and has extensive experience with labor and community organizing.
Ben Palmquist works with Partners for Dignity & Rights, where he directs the New Social Contract program and supports organizing for health care as a human right. He has over 15 years of experience working with community organizations on health care, labor, housing and environmental rights across the U.S and in Indonesia and Ecuador.
For more information on the topics of this episode, see:
Peoples Advocacy Institute
JXN People's Assembly
Chinese Progressive Association - SF
Paterson Education Fund
Participatory Budgeting Project
Democracy Beyond Elections
Article: Building Bottom-Up Democracy Through Co-Governance
Article: How to Build Multiracial Democracy at the Local Level
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Dream Team hosts and timely conversations
Puck Lo and Lewis Wallace are a dream team. We absolutely need more of this type of journalism and these types of conversations in this format. So impressed and can’t wait to keep hearing what’s in store!
We need more of this
This is an important contribution to movement journalism