“Under the Tree” is a new podcast that focuses on freedom—a complex, layered, dynamic, and often contradictory idea—and takes you on a journey each week to fundamentally reimagine how we can bring freedom and liberation to life in relation to schools and schooling, equality and justice, and learning to live together in peace.
Our podcast opens a crawl-space, a fugitive field and firmament where we can both explore our wildest freedom dreams, and organize for a liberating insurgency. "Under the Tree" is a seminar, and it runs the gamut from current events to the arts, from history lessons to scientific inquiries, and from essential readings to frequent guest speakers.
We’re in the midst of the largest social uprising in US history—and what better time to dive headfirst into the wreckage, figuring out as we go how to support the rebellion, name it, and work together to realize its most radical possibilities—and to reach its farthest horizons?
“A Vision of the Sea,” and of Freedom
We have taken up the question and the problem of freedom from various angles of regard, and today we move from an expansive metaphor—freedom as the wide, wide sea—to a material reality—freedom as the concrete act of unlocking the prison gate and walking out, free. We visit with Kathy Boudin, a social justice activist who spent 22 years in a New York State prison, and has, since her release in 2003, helped to organize a remarkable network and a wide range of projects to dismantle the system of mass incarceration.
Episode 11 - Interlude
We’re altering the framework for Episode Eleven because we’ve reached a milestone of sorts—a small milestone, to be sure, but a milestone nonetheless—and, therefore, this offering represents a kind of interlude, a time to reflect and recap, reimagine and rebuild. With ten episodes of Under the Tree live—a decathlon run—and a zillion episodes up ahead, let’s look back at where we’ve been, listen to a few excerpts, and then plunge ahead into a brief dialogue between Ayers, Alim, and Professor Stovall as we prepare for the road ahead.
History Matters ft. Aaron Dixon
The conquerors and the occupiers—the victors—are always the ones who write the history, and so we’re left with stories of the glorious conquest of the American west against “savage Indians,” the “Lost Cause” of the “valiant” Confederacy, or the acclaimed creation of “a fragile democracy” in the backward Middle East—“a chosen land for a chosen people.” Each of these accounts is sharply contested, and in that narrative battle we see a protest and hear an appeal: look more deeply, uncover the silenced voices—flawed and partial, contingent and fragmentary—discover a larger and more honest understanding of events. We’re joined today by Aaron Dixon, a former Black Panther Party leader whose journey proceeds from the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter movement of today, and whose decades of experience and accumulated wisdom can help us answer that appeal.
"Artists Can Help to Make the Revolution Irresistible" ft. Lisa Yun Lee
Life begins in wonder, and so does art—authentic education, too, begins in curiosity, and proceeds through discovery and surprise. Emily Dickinson wrote that “Art lights the slow fuse of possibility,” reminding us that every human being is endowed with the powerful and unique capacity to imagine, and that the arts can help us unleash our deepest human hopes and aspirations, our wildest dreams. We begin to explore the arts and the serious work of making justice with our friend and comrade Lisa Yun Lee, Director of the National Public Housing Museum, Associate Professor of Art History and Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a leading cultural activist who describes herself as “intellectually promiscuous.”
Reparations Now! ft. Katherine Franke
Reparations for America’s “original sin”—generational slavery—as well as the long and abiding afterlife of chattel slavery, including Black Codes, poll taxes, Jim Crow, the regime of lynching and white terror, pogroms, red-lining, segregation, voter suppression, and mass incarceration, has moved urgently into the forefront of the national agenda. Malik Alim and Bill Ayers focus their conversation on reparations as both a moral imperative and a multi-dimensional practical necessity before turning to Katherine Franke, a leading scholar on law and racial justice and chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Her most recent book, Repair: Redeeming the Promise of Abolition, takes a clear-eyed look at what might have saved us a century and a half ago, and what it will take to save us today.
An Education for Freedom ft. Kevin Kumashiro
Societies organize and build schools which are, of course, set up to serve the goals and interests of their hosts. Schools are both mirror and window: authoritarian schools serve authoritarian societies, and authoritarian nations create autocratic schools. We start this episode with a conversation between Malik Alim and Bill Ayers about the schools we need and the schools we deserve. We then welcome Kevin Kumashiro, author of The Seduction of Common Sense, Against Common Sense, and the forthcoming Surrendered, to help us explore the essential dimensions of an education for free people.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This podcast is something to be proud of! Very timely and engaging conversations. Keep keeping us engaged!
I have been reading and following Bill’s work all my teaching life, over thirty years now. This podcast puts us to work and lets us become a student in his classroom about FREEDOM, the subject of every sentient being’s soul. I feel deep gratitude for being able , late in my game, to come to bat and swing. Thanks everyone for this gift.
Bill Ayers is a raconteur extraordinaire. This podcast combine thoughtful and in-depth commentary on the most important issues of the day through a wonderfully engaging conversational style. It’s smart, entertaining, informative, provocative and passionate. Also, have you ever seen a nicer logo?