by Jack Gerson*
On November 19, supporters of academic freedom and opponents of police censorship and repression won an important victory when Oakland school district administration announced that access to the Urban Dreams social justice units would be restored to the district's website. Access had been denied for 7 months, after the Fraternal Order of Police lobby and Fox News kicked up a storm over a lesson plan that asked students to compare the mass media's suppression of the facts about the railroading of Mumia Abu Jamal and of his writings and with the suppression of Martin Luther King's radical indictment of corporate power and his organizing against it.
For seven months, the Oakland school district allowed -- indeed, were the executors of -- police censorship of school curricula. A persistent campaign torestore Urban Dreams by several Oakland teachers -- initially, only a few of us were actively organizing -- managed to increasingly gather support from local and state teacher unions and from national figures (Emmy Award winning actor Ed Asner; Pulitzer Prizewinning novelist Alice Walker), and it was this support that got the school district to finally end the censorship and restore the lesson plans.
So if we fight, we can win. But this is only a small part of a much larger fight. The following illustrates both that the impact of the movement is growing, and that our opponents will fight to retain their brutal and haughty power.
|St. Louis Rams Players Support Michael Brown|
Six St. Louis Rams (NFL) players gave the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" salute yesterday in solidarity with the nationwide protests against the murder of Michael Brown by a Ferguson cop (Ferguson is a St. Louis suburb). This indicates how deeply Brown's murder has been felt, and the scope of the reaction to it. The Rams' action recalls the clenched fist black power solidarity salute by John Carlos and Tommy Smith from the medals stand at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.
Predictably, the St. Louis cops 'union' issued a statement demanding that the players be disciplined. Once more, the cops confirm that they are out to suppress dissent -- especially when it's directed at them. The out of control cops insist that they must have full control and the right to crush those who protest their brutal tactics, their criminalization and victimization (especially of young people of color) and even their murders.
Here's a link to the story in today's Guardian online: http://gu.com/p/43nxn
* Jack Gerson is a retired Oakland Teacher