College of Constructive Hell-Raising

College of Constructive Hell-Raising The College for Constructive Hell-Raising is a semester-long, citizen-friendly seminar class to help DFW activists of all kinds think more like organizers.
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Operating as usual

"She couldn’t stop thinking about the “heartbeat bill” that Gov. Greg Abbott had signed into law last month. The law pro...
06/02/2021
Lake Highlands High Valedictorian Pulls Switcheroo on Commencement Speech - D Magazine

"She couldn’t stop thinking about the “heartbeat bill” that Gov. Greg Abbott had signed into law last month. The law prohibits abortions as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant, and it matters not if the pregnancy results from incest or rape. Abortion rights activists say it is the most restrictive law in the country. It will go into effect in September. The more Smith thought about it, the more she was drawn to the conclusion that there was nothing more important that she could address with her time at the microphone."

Paxton Smith got one speech approved and then — surprise! — read another about abortion rights.

"It hit me that teenagers and 20-somethings were leading the way. When we look at the civil rights movement, grainy blac...
05/29/2021
A Protest Moment I’ll Never Forget

"It hit me that teenagers and 20-somethings were leading the way. When we look at the civil rights movement, grainy black-and-white photos of activists make them appear older in our imaginations. But many human rights leaders were so young. “I never thought that I could do something that big to help out my community because I was like, ‘I’m just a kid,’” Melany told me later. “A kid never thinks they can be able to put 300 people in a space and talk to them about the issues going on in our country, but we did do that. I was very proud of myself for being able to do that.”

Last year, more than 30 Times reporters across the country covered the demonstrations after George Floyd’s death. Here, 10 of them reflect on the sights and interactions that have stayed with them.

I’m restricted,” she explains to a group of mask-wearing visitors on a walking tour one late-April morning. “Because the...
05/27/2021
Some of the most progressive and insightful theater in America is happening in Colonial Williamsburg. Really.

I’m restricted,” she explains to a group of mask-wearing visitors on a walking tour one late-April morning. “Because the laws didn’t say ‘free’ or ‘enslaved.’ They said ‘Negroes.’ ”James has been embodying Cumbo in this mile-by-half-mile historic area for a decade, in a career in “actor interpretation” spanning 34 years. Though she has always loved the work, it has taken on deeper resonance of late. Colonial Williamsburg — a place where theater lives, too — has been grappling with more determination than ever with the harsher realities of its past. And particularly with the lives of its Black inhabitants, most of whom were enslaved and formed the majority of its population in the 1700s.

Stories of women and people of color are gaining prominence in one of the nation’s premier sites for experiencing U.S. history.

"Despite engaging in what they dubbed a “campaign of arson” against a multibillion dollar infrastructure project, the wo...
05/26/2021
You Strike a Match

"Despite engaging in what they dubbed a “campaign of arson” against a multibillion dollar infrastructure project, the women were never caught. Nor did they stop the pipeline. Oil was flowing by early-May 2017. That summer, Montoya and Reznicek realized there was one more thing they could do to try to stop the project." Turn Themselves In....

Why two women sacrificed everything to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

"Ms. Walsh, a 16-year-old high school junior, has many of the attributes of Generation Z: She likes to refer to people (...
05/19/2021
An ‘Army of 16-Year-Olds’ Takes On the Democrats

"Ms. Walsh, a 16-year-old high school junior, has many of the attributes of Generation Z: She likes to refer to people (like the president) as “bestie.” She occasionally gets called away from political events to babysit her little brother. She is slightly in the doghouse, parent-wise, for getting a C+ in precalculus. She is also representative of an influential new force in Democratic politics, activists who cut their teeth on the presidential campaigns of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren."

Young progressives are an unpredictable new factor in Massachusetts elections. They’re ardent, and organized, and they don’t take orders.

Heads-Up: Job
05/17/2021
Communications Coordinator

Heads-Up: Job

Texas Campaign for the Environment is now hiring for the position of Communications Coordinator in Austin, Dallas, Houston. Apply today.

"The characters – including herself as narrator – are brought to comic-strip life with black and white illustrations and...
05/16/2021
Secret history: the warrior women who fought their enslavers

"The characters – including herself as narrator – are brought to comic-strip life with black and white illustrations and speech bubbles in the work of New Orleans artist Hugo Martínez. “The combination provides a way to look almost simultaneously into the past and the present, which was crucial for this story because it’s about haunting and the relationship between slavery, the United States and the current issues that we have today."

Historian Rebecca Hall works with a graphic artist in her new book to reclaim the stories of the female rebels on ships and plantations

"Baez’s commitment to social justice and folk music, the twin rivers that course through her big life, took her wherever...
05/14/2021
Listening to her older records, Joan Baez hears perfection in an ‘unsurpassable’ voice

"Baez’s commitment to social justice and folk music, the twin rivers that course through her big life, took her wherever trouble thrived: Hanoi, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Chile, Argentina, Alabama. The voice became her passport. Baez sang for Martin Luther King Jr., Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa. Baez is possibly the only artist to have performed at the March on Washington, Woodstock and Live Aid."

The Kennedy Center honoree redefined folk music and showed up wherever her songs and courage were needed.

"Gordon-Reed never lost her affection for Texas, even after she left. 'When asked, as I have been very often, to explain...
05/08/2021
Annette Gordon-Reed’s Surprising Recollections of Texas

"Gordon-Reed never lost her affection for Texas, even after she left. 'When asked, as I have been very often, to explain what I love about Texas, given all that I know of what has happened there — and is still happening there — the best response I can give is that this is where my first family and connections were,' she writes. 'Love does not require taking an uncritical stance toward the objects of one’s affections. In truth, it often requires the opposite. We can’t be of real service to the hopes we have for places — and people, ourselves included — without a clear eyed assessment of their (and our) strengths and weaknesses.”

With “On Juneteenth,” Gordon-Reed recalls integrating her town’s school, and explains why she thinks back fondly on her native state.

"There were ultimately some 148 independent chapters of ACT UP around the world. Schulman sets her history in New York i...
05/07/2021
A New Testament to the Fury and Beauty of Activism During the AIDS Crisis

"There were ultimately some 148 independent chapters of ACT UP around the world. Schulman sets her history in New York in the years between 1987 and 1993, when the Monday night meetings at a downtown lesbian and gay community center attracted hundreds. The effect is rather like standing in the middle of that large room, where anyone could speak up and share an idea. Everyone is talking; small stories branch off, coalesce pages later. Speakers shade in one another’s stories, offer another angle, disagree passionately. You turn a page, and the same people have their arms linked together at a protest. Shadows start to fall; in squares of gray text, deaths are marked, moments for remembrance. So many people leave the room."

Sarah Schulman’s “Let the Record Show” is a history of ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, based on 17 years of interviews with nearly 200 members of the organization.

When NPR was young and subversive....
05/06/2021
Hear NPR's First On-Air Original Broadcast From 1971

When NPR was young and subversive....

All Things Considered's debut on May 3, 1971 documented all sides of the antiwar protest with a visceral sound portrait, taking listeners to the heart of America's agonies over the war in Vietnam.

Dear Alumni - one of our own needs your help. Clarice Criss is a Class of '17 College graduate and a Dallas Soul Sister ...
05/05/2021
Train the Trainer: Send Clarice to Africa, organized by Clarice Criss

Dear Alumni - one of our own needs your help. Clarice Criss is a Class of '17 College graduate and a Dallas Soul Sister to the other Deb in that class, Michelle McAdam. The picture of the both of them on the couch at Bryan St. Tavern in the middle of a shared moment is an iconic one for the College. For those of you unfamiliar with her urban garden prowess, Clarice's compost was traded like currency in her neighborhood, including the local Trap house.... Clarice is a force of nature and her graduation was one of the reasons why we knew the College was working. If you can, please help her out.

Hello everyone! I have been offered the wonderful opportunity to travel to Gh… Clarice Criss needs your support for Train the Trainer: Send Clarice to Africa

“I saw America as it is. I saw the politicians. I saw the corruption. I saw the drunkards. … I saw the girls who left ho...
05/04/2021
Juanita Craft Helped Integrate the Texas State Fair—And Inspired the Next Generation of Civil Rights Activists

“I saw America as it is. I saw the politicians. I saw the corruption. I saw the drunkards. … I saw the girls who left home with promises of the Great White Way and things of that sort and turned to prostitution. I’ve had whiskey thrown at me. I’ve had people offer it to me in any quantity you can dream of, but I’ve never touched it yet. So I give that job credit for keeping me as a person I wanted to be."

The subject of our latest Texans You Should Know history profile started 182 NAACP chapters and welcomed kids and power brokers alike into her South Dallas home.

"He’s a world-renowned linguist who revolutionized his field. He’s a political theorist who’s been a sharp critic of Ame...
04/23/2021
Opinion | Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Human Nature and Joe Biden

"He’s a world-renowned linguist who revolutionized his field. He’s a political theorist who’s been a sharp critic of American foreign policy for decades. He’s an anarchist who believes in a radically different way of ordering society. He’s a pragmatist who pushed leftists to vote for Joe Biden in 2020 and has described himself as having a 'rather conservative attitude towards social change.”

The legendary leftist intellectual also discusses his theory of the good life and more.

How the G.O.P. Is Creating Harsher Penalties for Protesters
04/21/2021
How the G.O.P. Is Creating Harsher Penalties for Protesters

How the G.O.P. Is Creating Harsher Penalties for Protesters

As the nation reacts to the guilty verdict a jury handed to Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd, Republican-led states are introducing punitive new measures governing protests.

04/21/2021
"The Kent State Pietà, as it’s sometimes called, is one of those rare photos that fundamentally changed the way we see o...
04/20/2021
The girl in the Kent State photo and the lifelong burden of being a national symbol

"The Kent State Pietà, as it’s sometimes called, is one of those rare photos that fundamentally changed the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Like the image of the solitary protester standing in front of a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square. Or the photo of Kim Phuc, the naked Vietnamese girl fleeing the napalm that has just incinerated her home. Or the image of Aylan Kurdi’s tiny, 3-year-old body facedown in the sand, he and his mother and brother having drowned while fleeing Syria."

In 1970, an image of a dead protester at Kent State became iconic. But what happened to the 14-year-old kneeling next to him?

"Judy Bochenski was 15, wore mini skirts, and had to ask her parents if it was ok to cross the border into Red China. Jo...
04/17/2021
Fifty years ago, a hippie, a dental assistant and a 15-year-old helped open China with ping pong

"Judy Bochenski was 15, wore mini skirts, and had to ask her parents if it was ok to cross the border into Red China. John Tannehill was 18, and as he crossed, he sported the blue denim overalls that were the rage back home. Glenn Cowan was 19, had shoulder-length hair, and wore purple bell bottoms. He waved goodbye to the media as he walked into the isolated nation. It was April 10, 1971, and the teenage table tennis players were part of an improbable group of Americans who became the first to enter Communist China in two decades and begin a thaw that would evolve over 50 years."

In 1971, a hippie, a dental hygienist and a 15-year-old helped open China with ping pong. Fifty years ago, U.S. ping pong players helped thaw the Cold War.

If you're really lucky you find mentors who become not only your teacher but your friend. And no matter how much you thi...
04/12/2021

If you're really lucky you find mentors who become not only your teacher but your friend. And no matter how much you think you know, they keep teaching you that you don't know as much as you think you do. I met Mavis Belisle when I was 20 years old. She's never stopped teaching me. Today is her birthday. Please wish her well @ [email protected]

Jim

If you're really lucky you find mentors who become not only your teacher but your friend. And no matter how much you think you know, they keep teaching you that you don't know as much as you think you do. I met Mavis Belisle when I was 20 years old. She's never stopped teaching me. Today is her birthday. Please wish her well @ [email protected]

Jim

"That year, grassroots activists regrouped and rebranded, forming a broad coalition based on six organizations they call...
04/11/2021
‘We didn’t stop’: the Los Angeles abolitionist coalition that’s racking up victories

"That year, grassroots activists regrouped and rebranded, forming a broad coalition based on six organizations they called JusticeLA. They devoted themselves to shutting down the jail construction plan. Then they held their first direct action, an art installation in front of an administrative building where the Los Angeles county board of supervisors had greenlit the jail project. Activists set up 100 homemade jail bed replicas, creating a simulated jail dormitory for the public. More than 200 supporters showed up wearing orange shirts that read “I am not the property of L.A. County jail.” The action diverted traffic for more than six hours.

“Even when we lost, we still won,” Ivette Alé said. “We didn’t stop organizing, didn’t stop putting pressure on the county.” Alé, 35, is JusticeLA’s coordinator, which continues to work for decarceration and to increase resources for communities most affected by incarceration."

JusticeLA’s activists have devoted themselves to shutting down a jail construction plan – and they aren’t ‘playing to the middle’

"Chavis knew he was a marked man. Protests had erupted over North Carolina’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of soil...
04/06/2021
‘This is environmental racism’

"Chavis knew he was a marked man. Protests had erupted over North Carolina’s decision to dump 40,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals in a poor Black farming community in Warren County, and Chavis was a leader of the revolt. The trooper pulled him over. “What did I do, officer?” Chavis asked that day in 1982. The answer shocked him. 'He told me that I was driving too slow.' Chavis was arrested and thrown in jail. When the cell door slammed shut, he gripped the metal bars and declared: 'This is racism. This is environmental racism."

"I Can't Breathe" were George Floyd's dying words under a White police officer's knee. They eerily echo what Black, Latino, Native American and other non-White environmental justice activists have said for decades about choking pollution in their communities.

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1808 South Good Latimer
Dallas, TX
75226

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The Only School of Its Kind in Texas

The College for Constructive Hell-Raising is a semester-long, citizen-friendly seminar class to help DFW activists think more like organizers. It provides the same curriculum taught to generations of professional organizers in places like the Midwest Academy in Chicago and the Highlander Institute in Tennessee, while also looking at the last 50 years of American history through a very specific Dallas-Fort Worth lens.

We present and analyze basic community organizing principles in interesting and engaging ways, including firsthand accounts from veterans of past and current DFW social justice campaigns. National movements for civil rights, anti-poverty, environmental justice, LGBT freedoms, and police brutality are covered from the perspective of what happened right here in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Students graduate with both a new appreciation of what it took to change things in the past, and the organizing tools they need to change things now.

Students also graduate with a new network of contacts and peers and are welcome into the growing College Community. We have alumni working on the issues of immigration, sex-trafficking, animal rights, urban agriculture, criminal justice, urban poverty, solid waste pollution, climate change, economic development, and many others. Together, we’re building a local sub-culture of change makers who can call on each other for advice, resources, encouragement and solace.

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It’s 1969. Across America, the culture wars are raging. At Goucher College, a private liberal arts school outside Baltimore, students enrolled in an 18th-century literature class take one glance at the syllabus and promptly ask their professor: “Where are the women authors?” The professor, herself a woman, is stumped. “There are none, because I’ve not read any,” she tells them.The stumped professor was Florence Howe, who died in September at 91, and this story, as she often explained, is how her lifelong project, the Feminist Press — now in its 50th year — was born."
...."historians and genealogists have combed through the archives, piecing together millions of documents that trace slave voyages, sales, baptisms, marriages and other events that form the life histories of named slaves. However, much of that research has been compiled in isolation at separate institutions, making it more challenging to follow the threads of individuals and families. Daryle Williams, a University of Maryland historian and associate dean in the College of Arts and Humanities, is working to address that as one of the leads on a massive new online database that will be an invaluable research and discovery tool: Enslaved.org: Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade."
Full-page anti-Kennedy ad in Dallas Morning News that confronted the President this morning 1963: “Why have you ordered or permitted your brother Bobby, the Attorney General, to go soft on Communists, fellow travelers, and ultra-leftists...?”
The Saturday protest in Dallas was organized by a different group than the EXCELLENT protest last night at the Courthouse. NGAN is behind the protest from last night, with additional events planned. Their strategy call today showed that activism/protesting is for them just the first step, raising awareness, gathering members. They will be publishing a list of demands of the city shortly and moving into longer-term organizing and hell raising. It should be interesting to see.
Loving my job at Hunger Free Oklahoma in Tulsa - organizing a coalition to combat food insecurity. Using a lot of what I learned in the College 2017 class. Thanks, Jim! First phase has been to assemble agencies working in the food space, then move out to work with the food desert communities to listen to their issues, help them see their assets and resources and bring resources for the directions they want to take. It's exciting, rewarding, and I'm meeting all sorts of wonderful people
Freedom Of Speech
Fellow hell-raisers: I am starting tomorrow (Sept 4) as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Hunger Free Oklahoma in Tulsa! I'll be putting all my community organizing skills into play, as I work with a team to build a coalition among the various silo efforts to address food insecurity in Tulsa. I'm excited about this opportunity to make a difference and utilize my skills and experience. :-)
A little bit of Martin Luther King III, speaking in Dallas, TX, regarding his father, his father's legacy and what really got him killed.
For fellow hell-raisers and organizers: Faith in Texas is looking for an organizer for greater DFW area:
It was inspiring to hear of our possible future, as envisioned by these wily, wacky warriors for wellbeing of ALL OF US! That's my editorial opinion. The future looks brighter with you guys trained and mobilized. 🗽🌈 👊