Category Archives: Articles

History and the people who make it: Clarence Sears, pt. 2

Clarence Sears [S], FBI KKK infiltrator, was interviewed by Ryan Morini [M] in August, 2015.

This is the 47h in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

Content note: This interview, like the previous excerpt in the March Iguana, includes offensive racial slurs, repeated intact here for historical accuracy.

This portion of the interview is continued from the March, 2018 Iguana. Part 1 can be found at:

S: The Klan died in that moment, in Duval County. Once the Klan know that they’re not secret, they’ve lost it. Scared to death.

They kept meeting in a little barn on what is now Bay Meadows Road. In those days it was a dirt street, and a guy had a little barn there. It had a room upstairs, and that became our clubhouse, but it never was the same. Nobody ever advocated violence. They’d just come and talk about Americanism [Laughter].

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Prison visitation cuts held at bay … for now

By Panagioti Tsolkas,

In February, the Florida Department of Corrections announced intent to start a new visitation schedule, known as Rule Change, 33-601.722.,that could leave a mere fraction of options available to prisoners and their families. Currently, visitation is allowed every weekend, from 9am to 3 pm, plus holidays. This averages over 50 hours of possible visitation a month. Proposed cuts would allow FDOC to provide half of the days (alternating weekends) and as little as two hours per visit, leaving an average of around 10 hours per month.

It was been studied and reported that frequent visitation is a driving force for prisoner rehabilitation (in the cases where that is needed). Visitation improves the rate of successful re-entry back into society and is proven to reduce recidivism rates—where currently over a quarter end up back in prison within three years.

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WGOT studio ready to roll with upcoming events

Rent party/Jam session: Apr. 14, 5-8pm
Civic Media Center

Benefit Concert: Sat., April 28
Hardback Café

By Fred Sowder
WGOT Station Manager

It’s been months in the making, but thanks to the patience and kindness of donors, listeners, and volunteers, WGOT is getting its studio together at the Civic Media Center for regular use beginning this summer. A finished studio will finally allow WGOT to present live programming featuring news, interviews, great new music, and more. Through the magic of Skype, we should also soon be able to take phone calls from listeners and guests.

These accomplishments can only continue to happen with your support.  Like most radio stations, WGOT has regular monthly expenses such as rent and utilities as well as other rights fees that allow us to bring you the latest music across genres in addition to in-depth news and analysis such as Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman and The Thom Hartmann Program. All of our local hosts and other members do so without payment or other compensation, so we are forever grateful for their steadfast service. However, your support, financially or otherwise, is vital for us to continue bringing you a compelling mix of local and national music and talk programs 24 hours a day.

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Queer Soup Night: Soup from the LGBTQ Soul

April 22, 2018  6-9:30pm
219 NW 10th Ave.
RSVP on Facebook @Queer Soup Night Gainesville: Earth Day

After a resoundingly successful launch, Queer Soup Night (QSN) is back for a second installment of its feel good/do good community supper. The donation-based fundraiser offers party-goers live music, a selection of three soups made by local chefs using locally-sourced ingredients, and the opportunity to come together in solidarity with the Gainesville Queer community.

In celebration of Earth Day, all proceeds from Queer Soup Night will benefit programming at Working Food. This local non-profit, which will also host the event in its beautiful mural-studded courtyard, is committed to a sustainable and equitable food future for all in North Central Florida.

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Food Justice Study Group

Meets: Thursday, May 31, 6:30-7:30pm
Civic Media Center, Gainesville

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) continues with its Food Justice Study Group for local residents in Gainesville and its surrounding communities.

Every other month, we discuss 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.

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UF OPS workers continue fight for better conditions

by Jeremiah Tattersall
Lead Organizer, 
Alachua County Labor Coalition

University of Florida OPS (temporary staff and adjunct faculty) workers continue their fight for better working conditions with the help of the Alachua County Labor Coalition.

The campaign started in September 2017, after OPS workers were left with nearly a week without pay, due to Hurricane Irma. All UF workers except the over 15,000 OPS employees were paid for these and other school closures.

OPS workers continue to face extreme hardship due to this policy of UF, with many facing mounting debts, days of hunger, losing health insurance, and at least one OPS worker becoming homeless.

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Women and the environment: let the healing begin

By Nkwanda Jah

My connection to the environment and life on the planet started far before I knew what it was. As a child I loved being outside exploring the more than 40 acres my family owned and lived on. I loved chasing the butterflies and mosquito hawks, I loved the fruit from the trees and vines. I loved working in the garden with my grandmother.

It was many years later as I enjoyed my work as a community activist that I (my organization, Cultural Arts Coalition) was asked by the City Commission to design an educational video about recycling. Our city had not been very successful in getting communities of color to participate in its recycling program.


We combined rap, dance, double dutch jump rope and handjive, and partnered with a local television station to produce an award winning video. We used local youth between the ages of 8 and 21. Not only did participation in recycling increase, but the video was used in more than 20 states as educational material.

I perceived this success as a sign from the Creator that I should be doing this kind of work. Over the years I have become increasingly aware of my unusual connectedness to the Earth/Planet/Environment.  I take it personally when any part of life on the planet is threatened.  That goes from the smallest of animals and plants to the largest, whether they are below the earth in the oceans, on earth, or flying high or low above. This sometimes is so strong that I feel a deep responsibility for protecting all of this life.

Since that time I have dedicated my life to doing better by the environment and teaching others to do the same.  In addition to recycling education, we cover food, water and air quality. We find various ways to advocate for our planet. As chair of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice committee, I engage the African American community to participate in the discussion and the work.

I am not saying you have to be a woman to truly be one with the Earth, but I truly believe it helps. Its helps to understand the life born from the Creator because of the life a woman/female produces. It’s knowing that as a mother you do not love one child more than the other. This helps in the understanding that the Creator loves everything it produces as a mother loves all she produces.

I feel me, my womanism, my feminism, my love for all of life, has lead me to this journey. I find it to be fulfilling, yet I am fearful. I am fearful that not enough humanity has the capacity to love and appreciate all of life.  I fear humanity’s selfishness and greed will collectively destroy life as we have known it.

I believe it will require the womanist, the strength of mothers, to make our environment/planet well again.

Let the healing begin.

Gainesville’s Food Not Bombs chapter is back

by Clara Ortega

Food Not Bombs is an international volunteer organization dedicated to challenging excessive waste and ensuring food for all people. We reclaim food that would otherwise be discarded to provide free meals in public spaces. We choose to share vegan or vegetarian food because it contributes less to pollution, water usage, and the creation of greenhouse gases.

Food Not Bombs works to change systems that perpetuate hunger by sharing literature and engaging with the most marginalized members of our community.

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American civilians in Saigon 1963: U.S. still making war to negate peace efforts

Reading/Booksigning: Sat., Apr. 21, 4pm, Third House Books, 113 N. Main St., Gainesville

by Kathy Connor Dobronyi

When Americans think of Vietnam, they think of the Vietnam War. Vietnam was divided into two countries in 1954 under the
Geneva Accords, a treaty that ended the colony of French Indochina. Although the division was temporary, the United States supported a permanent state in the south under President Ngo Dinh Diem, an ardent anti-communist.

Beginning in 1954, the United States spent billions in foreign aid for the new country. Vietnam represented a massive investment by the United States of more than $28.5 billion in economic and security assistance designed to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese, an essential part of countering communists influence.

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G’ville protesters in solidarity with March for Our Lives

by Madison Rubert

Well over a thousand demonstrators armed with bold banners, hand-made signs, and most importantly, their voices, flooded Downtown Gainesville on March 24 to protest current gun laws in solidarity with protesters in Washington, D.C.

On that Saturday at 11 a.m., protesters met at the Bo Diddley Plaza at 111 E. University Ave. to partake in March for Our Lives Gainesville, a sister march of March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., that was organized by UF freshman Heather Yu.

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April 2018 Gainesville Iguana

The April issue of the Iguana is now available and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.

GNV votes March 20

by Joe Courter

Please, if you live in the City of Gainesville, do not ignore the upcoming election on March 20. Voters on the Eastside (District 1) will have two races on their ballot, the rest of the City but one race, but who we elect and what they prioritize is important.

Everyone registered to vote can vote in the At-Large race. It features two candidates, the incumbent, Harvey Budd, against challenger Gail Johnson.

Harvey has a long and solid history in Gainesville. He is an accountant by trade and has been active in the community as a property owner and Plan Board member. He has been on the Commission for one term, during which he has tried to be a financial watchdog and seeker of compromise. He is a good guy and has served well, but it is his luck in this wave election to have Gail Johnson step in to run for his seat.

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Reflection on support for prisoners’ Operation PUSH And a call to action in Tallahassee on March 8 against visitation cuts

by Panagioti Tsolkas

In January, activists across Florida celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday with a renewed commitment to struggle alongside those among the most exploited members in our society: the prison slaves.

Over 150 organizations across the country issued statements of support for Florida prisoners. Some carried banners in their local MLK parades or dropped banners off overpasses for thousands to see. Others handed out flyer, pasted posters and pushed out social media.

It was said by many, including Angela Davis on her visit to Tallahassee, that had King not been assassinated as he joined underpaid workers in Memphis, Tennessee, fifty years ago, he would most certainly have been in Florida supporting the prisoners of Operation PUSH.

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From the publisher … Marjory Stoneman Douglas would be proud

Here’s a big note of appreciation to the brave and powerful students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They took the adversity that was thrown at them and exemplify the adage of speaking truth to power. Seeing Emma Gonzales speak at that rally, all that fierce power and raw emotion, I was in awe.

Likewise seeing Cameron Kasky go face-to-face at the CNN town meeting with Marco Rubio and not back down; wow. I hope this issue will resonate across the country, and not only to the youth. I hope that adults recognize that they need to have this young generation’s back as they fight for a saner future. It is the least we can do, as we are the generations on whose watch this madness has developed.

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CMC SpringBoard fundraiser at new location

Friday, April 13, 6:30-9pm
Working Food, 219 NW 10th Ave.

Save the date: on Friday April 13, the Civic Media Center will be holding the 2018 version of its SpringBoard fundraiser. This event is timed to give the CMC a boost as the summer approaches, with its higher utility costs and diminished population in town.

This year the event will be held at a new and exciting location, Working Food at 219 NW 10th Ave. This large meeting hall (and large parking lot) is one of three new additions in the block of NW 10th Ave., joined by the restaurant Afternoon and Cypress & Grove Brewing. The event will run from 6:30 to 9pm.

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Explaining city candidates’ ‘criminal’ histories not job of corporate media

by James Thompson

So many in our community cringed at the reporting of criminal histories and arrests of Gainesville City Commission candidates by the Gainesville Sun. But we cannot expect corporate media to do the job of progressive advocacy journalism. That is what publications like this one, and voices like ours, are for.

Andrew Caplan is a capable and hardworking political beat reporter, and the Sun Editor-in-Chief Doug Ray is socially engaged and accessible. But I’m not surprised at the racial and gender tone deaf reporting, imaging, and editing that went into the piece (“City Candidates’ Records Spotty,” Gainesville Sun, Feb. 10, 2018).

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History and the people who make it: Clarence Sears

Clarence Sears [S], FBI KKK infiltrator, was interviewed by Ryan Morini [M] in August, 2015.

This is the 46th in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

Content note: This interview includes offensive racial slurs, repeated intact here for historical accuracy.

S: I’m 87 years old. Lived in Jacksonville all my life. Was in the Air Force at the end of World War II. Went to Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. I had a career with the railroad. I was a train director, something like a dispatcher. Worked at night, talking to crews on the trains. I spent 45 years doing that.

M: Where did you grow up in Jacksonville?

S: On the north side, in a working class community. I was a Baptist. I’m a Unitarian now.

M: Your father was from Boston?

S: He was a Catholic from Boston. He died when I was nine. I was really raised by my Baptist mother.

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Phosphate mining update: ‘opportunistic, irreversible decision’

By Kate Ellison

People are worried about a proposed Phosphate Mine spanning the New River in Bradford and Union Counties. Residents of Alachua County are affected, because this mine is just north of where the New River meets the Santa Fe flowing along Alachua County’s border with these two rural counties. Additionally, water underground knows no borders.

This is an opportunistic, irreversible decision by landowners with long range implications for our shared environment. People in outlying counties are waking up and need our support.

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Latin American Studies Center conference: Buen Vivar and other Post-Development Pathways

Sunday-Tuesday, April 8-10
Emerson Alumni Hall, UF

You are invited to join an exploration of lifeways motivated by desire for human and ecological health, harmony, pleasure, community, and sovereignty at the 67th annual conference of the UF Center for Latin American Studies.

Over the past century, people and places across Latin America have been shaped by national and international efforts toward “development,” conceived as economic growth and assimilation of western institutions and lifestyles. Concomitant loss of biological and cultural diversity, together with increasing environmental degradation, provoke reappraisal of radically diverse paths toward wellbeing.

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Roy Zimmerman: ReZist

ReZist is ninety minutes of Roy Zimmerman’s original songs – a funny and forceful affirmation of Peace and Social Justice.

Roy’s songs have been heard on HBO and Showtime, and his videos have garnered tens of millions of views. He has recorded for Warner/Reprise Records. He’s shared stages with Bill Maher, Ellen DeGeneres, Holly Near, Robin Williams, Arlo Guthrie, John Oliver, Kate Clinton and George Carlin, and tours the country constantly with his wife and co-writer Melanie Harby.

See Roy and hear his funny songs on peace and justice on Tuesday, March 20 at 7:30pm at The Midnight, 223 South Main St. in Gainesville. Suggested donation is $15. ReZist is presented by the Civic Media Center. Advance tickets are available through Eventbrite.