Famous Florida folklorist, human rights organizer, and environmentalist Stetson Kennedy would have turned 101 years old on Oct. 5. One day before his birthday, on Oct. 4, the Civic Media Center will host a celebration of his life featuring music, cake, a sale of his books and, most importantly, a Powerpoint presentation by Sandra Parks, the woman he shared the last years of his busy life with and the director of the Stetson Kennedy Foundation.
“Living a Life of Purpose” covers 80 years of activism, from organizing against anti-Semitism as a 14-year-old to marching with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in their fight for higher wages as a 94-year-old. In between those years he saw seven of his books published, many articles, speaking engagements, friendships with Woody Guthrie, Studs Terkel, Jean-Paul Sartre and countless others.
Leroy Bell [B], military veteran and Apopka activist, was interviewed by Clayton Robinson [R] in July, 2013.
This is the 42nd in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.
Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.
B: I was born September the 4th, 1959 in a little place they call Gallion, Alabama. My father was more like a migrant worker. I grew up all over. Place like North Carolina, New York, Alabama, Florida. I really started doing farmwork in 1968. Once my father and mother moved us down here to Florida, most of us would pick oranges and grapefruits, go out to Sanford and pick up cucumbers out of the field.
by Graduate Assistants United
Graduate Assistants United (GAU) is the labor union that represents approximately 4,000 graduate assistants (GAs) at the University of Florida. This includes all of the graduate students who may teach up to half of all classes at UF any given semester and also perform valuable research for the university.
Since ratifying our first contract in 1983, GAU has made significant progress in improving workplace conditions for GAs at UF. GAU has fought for and won healthcare, yearly pay raises, and many important employee protections.
by Sheila Payne, ACLC Board Member
Members of Alachua County civil rights activist groups and faith community members are in the midst of helping to collect the almost 800,000 valid signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the 2018 Florida ballot to restore voting rights to the 1.7 million citizens who are no longer able to vote because of a past felony conviction. We are pushing to collect all the signatures by Dec. 31, 2017 for verification by February 2018. Sixty percent of 2018 voters would have to vote yes to the amendment for it to become law.
Florida’s Voting Restoration Amendment would allow people who did not commit a violent felony and have paid their debt to society, including completing probation, to again be voting citizens and full members of their community.
by Jim Sullivan
What is the Humanist Society of Gainesville? As a member of this group for a number of years now I think of it as follows. It is a group of people who value the idea of thinking for themselves about the most productive and effective ways to live our lives.
We generally reject the idea that the universe is created and controlled by an unseen God or Gods. We tend to be informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. We strive to act rationally while also understanding that we are social beings heavily influenced by our emotions. In a broader social context, we are firmly dedicated to the idea that church and state should be kept clearly separate.
The Institute of Black Culture and the Institute of Hispanic/Latino Culture were torn down on Aug. 19.
UF Multicultural & Diversity Affairs did not give students or the community warning or notice.
Officials alerted students and alumni that the buildings had been demolished only after an outrage on social media went around about the buildings being demolished.
The buildings were built in 1921. They have been standing for 96 years, and out of those 96 years, one of the buildings served as the Institute of Black Cultures for 46 years and the other served as the Institute of Hispanic/Latino Cultures for 23 years. They were safe spaces for students and have been for countless others in the past.
The image above is completely heartbreaking to see. The lack of transparency from MCDA is a continuing trend that students have been trying to curtail. Community members are working to ensure that MCDA is proactive and transparent in their dealings with students in the future, especially pertaining to the institutes.
Southern Legal Counsel (SLC) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year protecting civil rights in Florida.
SLC is a Gainesville-based non-profit public interest law firm that does statewide work dedicated to the ideal of equal justice for all and the attainment of basic civil and human rights. They will celebrate 40 Years of Impact at an event at the University of Florida Hilton on Oct. 21. Morris Dees, pioneering civil rights lawyer and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be the keynote speaker. Known for innovative lawsuits that crippled some of America’s most notorious white supremacist hate groups, Dees will speak about the importance of public interest law firms, like SLC, that focus on impact litigation.
Alia DeLong holds a Fake Clinic sign along with others from NWL’s Abortion & Birth Control Committee as National Women’s Liberation protested at the Sira Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) on NW 13th Street. The protest, on August 7, aimed to warn the community about the misinformation these “clinics” provide.
CPCs like Sira are not health clinics. They use misleading tactics, such as free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, to bring women into their facilities with the intent of steering them away from choosing abortion, using birth control, and if they are unmarried – having sex.
CPCs in Florida receive funding from taxpayer dollars as well as proceeds from the “Choose Life” license plate. Photo courtesy of Michele Applegarth.
Thursday, Oct. 5, 9am – 1:30pm
Gainesville Women’s Club
2809 West University Ave.
The Gainesville Chapter of the United Nations Association invites you and your members and associates to join us for our annual UN Day Celebration. The theme this year is “The United Nations: My World, Your World, Our World.”
The keynote speaker will be the Honorable Lauren Poe, Gainesville’s mayor, who will speak on “Global Goals, Local Leaders.” Panelists will be Lorey Campese, Past President of Santa Fe Community College’s Model UN Club and Secretary-General of GatorMUN at the University of Florida and now with the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the UN.
Wednesday, Sept. 13 @ 7pm • Jewish Council of North Central Florida • 3835 NW 8th Ave., Gainesville
Secular and progressive Jews have long been part of the Jewish people. A movement known as Humanistic Judaism (HJ) combines attachment to Jewish identity and culture with a human-centered approach to life.
HJ defines Judaism as the historical and cultural experience of the Jewish people. It affirms that human beings are independent of supernatural authority and responsible for themselves. Humanistic Jews seek solutions to conflicts that respect the freedom, dignity, and self-esteem of every human being.
The Hippodrome Theatre and the UF School of Theatre + Dance will partner to bring George Orwell’s dystopia to life this fall.
1984, written by George Orwell and adapted by Andrew White, makes its Southeast regional premiere on the Hippodrome Mainstage. The show runs Sept. 1 through Sept. 24.
Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. (FOG) is launching a new Food Justice Study Group for local residents in Gainesville and its surrounding communities.
Every other month, we will be discussing a book or documentary that has been selected to generate a conversation about how our contemporary food system can help us better understand the complex issues of race, class, gender, both our collective and individual histories, and how we might envision and achieve a more sustainable, socially-just society.
by Melissa Morris, NCFCLC Secretary
During the July executive board meeting and the August general body meeting, the North Central Florida Central Labor Council (NCFCLC) unanimously voted to support Parents Against Corporate Takeover (PACT) in their efforts to campaign against Charter School USA coming into Alachua County. The NCFCLC represents union members from twelve different Central Florida counties.
On June 15th of this year House Bill 7069 was signed by Governor Scott with an effective date of July 1, 2017. This bill mandates that public schools share local millage revenue with local charter schools, regardless of public or private status. Included in this bill was language for “Schools of Hope” to be opened in areas of persistently low performing schools. It also allows for these Schools of Hope to be able to apply to the state for assistance in funding the construction of the new buildings. These provisions were put in place to help students in low performing areas, yet the proposed charter school would be built in an area of Gainesville where there are two elementary schools that are historically A schools.
Two persons are needed for part-time (25-30 hours per week) employment with a dynamic political and cultural organization.
Progressive politics and community organizing interest, skills, and experience a must.
Familiarity with databases, spreadsheets, social media, and/or graphic design all pluses; nonprofit management experience more so. Good writing/communications skills, demonstrated movement commitment, and ability to work with and inspire volunteers also required. Pay is $14 per hour.
Send your resume via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please state a good day of the week and time for a possible future interview.
by Joe Courter
I had this phrase as a bumper sticker years back, and while a parody of the anti-abortion slogan, I always come back to it in different situations. Most recently it came to me in regard to the First Amendment and the dilemma of the ACLU and UF when evaluating the free speech rights of the Nazis and racists who have emerged with the election of Trump.
Our community has been targeted by these new brand of racists because we are a progressive town that will put up a fight, which is what they want. I was told they are hoping to win “free speech” court cases as a financial strategy, much like that heinous Westboro Baptist Church, the folks who picket funerals of gay people and soldiers.
– an anonymous Santa Fe employee
Over the past few years the Alachua County Labor Coalition has helped put millions of dollars directly into the pockets of working people through our efforts to combat wage theft and our living wage campaign targeting Alachua County’s largest employers. While we’ve had significant success with those institutions whose decision-making bodies are publicly elected — the City of Gainesville, Alachua County, and the School Board — other large employers who are not directly accountable to our community have been more difficult to reach. Among those employers is Santa Fe College (SFC), which is both nationally-recognized and a bedrock institution of this community.
On April 21 1990, the Gainesville Downtown Plaza, now Bo Diddley Plaza, was rented to celebrate Hitler’s birthday (word was whoever signed the paperwork didn’t know what “the fuhrer’s birthday” meant). Much as today, authorities wanted the event ignored, but an activist-minded President of UF Student Government, as well as many community activists, turned out over 500 people for a counter rally.
The celebrants had about 18 people, an assortment of skinheads and nazis. Their “seig heils” were met with loud “fuck yous.” And of course, a large police presence was involved, with everyone required to go through metal detectors. What follows ran in the May 1990 Gainesville Iguana:
(Carol Giardina of Gainesville Women’s Liberation spoke about women, and the larger Nazi threat. Here is part of her speech at the rally.)
The Nazis are anti-woman and they’re anti-women’s liberation. They had a KKK just for women. Küche, Kirche, und Kinder. Cooking, church, and children was a Nazi slogan … For Aryan women – blonde, blue-eyed women – their function was the forced production of future fascists. Others were forced into whorehouses, for the Nazi armies. They were sterilized and exterminated. Feminists share a common enemy in Hitler with all of labor and working people …
The 2017 September issue of the Iguana is now available! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.