Power in Defense of Freedom

May 29, 2018

“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression.” -- Malcom X

Among other things, May is the month of Malcom X’s birthday. He would have been 93 years old on May 19, and his powerful words – piercing and true – serve as a source to draw from for all of us today, and particularly for the activists who are dedicated to attaining justice and opportunity for all. 

As we reflect on history and take in the surmounting challenges of today, it’s strengthening to remember leaders who once showed us a way forward, and to appreciate, uplift, and support those who are doing so now. This month’s Partner News includes more than a few.

Creative Changer Mark Strandquist (CC ’16) organized Women in Reentry Day along with formerly incarcerated women who are advocacy fellows at People’s Paper Co-Op. An art exhibit, press conference, march, and symposium aimed to celebrate the Mama’s Bail Out campaign and call for Philadelphia to better support women effected by the criminal justice system.

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Photo courtesy of the People’s Paper Co-op

Matt Nelson (CI ’17), Executive Director of Presente.org, was interviewed by California’s KPFA radio on how a new Facebook ad-buying policy hurts undocumented immigrants. The policy, which is being publicly touted as a measure to stop Russian meddling in U.S. elections, requires that all U.S. residents who purchase ads have a social security number and valid state-issued ID, effectively banning undocumented immigrants, including DREAMers, from purchasing ads on Facebook.

Director of the Border Rights Center at ACLU, Texas Astrid Dominguez (CI ’16) contributed to a Washington Post story about an ACLU report on the mistreatment of undocumented minors at the U.S.-Mexico border during the last 10 years. “You have no clear sense of how or whether agents [at the time] were reprimanded,” she said.

The New York Daily News published an op-ed by New York State Director at the Drug Policy Alliance, Kassandra Frederique (CI ’15), calling for increased drug checking in the state. “Mayor de Blasio's support for overdose prevention sites in New York City is a powerful gesture signaling a shift away from criminalization and the war on drugs toward much-needed health-based strategies that prioritize saving lives and reducing stigma,” wrote Kassandra.

Laurie Jo Reynolds (CI ’15, CC ’11, CC ‘10) works on Solitary Watch’s Photo Requests from Solitary (PRFS) project, which has opened an exhibit at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The exhibit includes image requests from men and women in long-term solitary confinement, the artists’ resulting photographs, and the opportunity to fulfill new requests. Visit this installation until Nov. 30.

Laurie is also the recipient of a new Open Society Foundation fellowship! Over the next 18 months as a Soros Arts Fellow, Laurie will lead a campaign with community partners to advocate for policies that prevent victimization, support survivors, and assist people after criminal conviction.

In August, activists and organizers who creatively address social justice, environmental, and human rights issues will convene at The Creative Solutions Symposium, curated by Johnny Perez (CI ’15), Director of U.S. Prison Programs at National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The week-long residency will support and encourage collaboration between its creative thinkers.

Two Creative Changers teamed up to make a short documentary, Water Warriors, about a community’s resistance against an energy company. Directed by Rachel Falcone (CC ’12, CC ’14) and produced by Michael Premo (CC ’14), the film has won 9 awards, including Best Short Documentary at Black Star Film Festival. Check upcoming screenings here, or stream through Kanopy.