Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ella Baker & the Black Freedom Movement: Session 1 Notes

Some notes Anissa:

There were about 15 of us -- a mixture of people connected to education, racial, and economic justice in a variety of ways.  

We did a little storytelling, in the spirit of the first chapter, where we told someone who "our people" are, and how "our people" helped shape us as activated people.  

We went over the Essential Questions for the summer.  We hope for these EQs to act as lenses through which we engage with our text (and any other book club books, for you super-engaged readers!)  
As the Caucus of Working Educators and the Teacher Action Group is making much more explicit the root effects of white supremacy and structural racism in the current attacks on public education and our school communities, here is our framework for reading:

-In exploring Ella Baker's life and work, what are the implications for the work that we are currently doing?
-What are the lessons learned throughout Ella Baker's life and work that we can glean, learn from, and apply to our own work?
-How does the work and life of Ella Baker, as well as the scholarship of Barbara Ramsby, take up intersectionality in movement work?

Then, we had a rich discussion about the Intro, first chapter, and article from Colorlines.  

We looked at her framework and theory of change -- and encourage everyone to really soak in the first page of the introduction.  :)

We discussed the power of deep relationship- and trust-building in our movement work.  And what actual democracy could look like.   

We talked about types of leadership, and looked specifically at Black women's leadership in the church, and leadership that is about trusting and valuing the wisdom of Black and poor people.  

And we talked about a lot more!

Notes from Christina:

Essential summer questions:

1) In our current moment, what implications are for the work we are doing together? Usefulness?

2) Lessons we can take from work Ella Baker has done? From her struggles?

3) How do they take up intersectionality in movement building? And moving forward toward change?

 Who are your people? How did they help shape you?

 What was her radical vision?

 Why is her style of organizing important?

o It was her responsibility to think of the collective—we all can grow together

o Religion was an action for her

o More focused on process, instead of an revolutionary end

o Infused new meanings into concept of democracy

o The role of the black church and black women as organizers

o Activism as the norm

o Intra-racial organizing from the beginning

o Important to build relationships

o Being able to relate to each other is radical

o To not just view relations as capitalistic 

o Changes how we think leadership works

o All being different and being able to contribute something  interesting cause we all care about it

o Developing leadership

 Where do we see moments of participatory democracy?

 More on Ella Baker’s approach

o Assumption that everyone has value and something to offer

o Collective sense of purpose as a group

o Have to be engaged to develop shared analysis, being in conversation

o What’s the overarching umbrella in today’s movement work? 

Movement work has been very silo-ed 

o Twitter as a tool, not a movement

o Radical change is about discourse, debate, consensus, reflection and struggle

o Fighting to get free and bonding in the process

o Process as about relationships and also inclusiveness

o It’s always an ongoing process—and we may not see the end—which is why personal transformation is so important

Please post any questions, comments, or additional notes in the comments below.

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