Monday, September 28, 2009

Today's Nonmilitary Options table at McCallum HS

Today, Hart, Craig and I did our first Nonmilitary Options table of the new school year. We were at McCallum HS in north central Austin. I had invited Allan Campbell, host of the "People United" radio program on KO-OP radio to join us there to interview us and students who came by the table because he is doing a show about us this coming Friday, Oct. 2. But, unfortunately, just as Allan started taping some student reactions, the McCallum Principal came over and said that he couldn't do it without official permission from the district. I'm not sure what that process is, but hopefully we can try this again sometime. Meanwhile, Hart is scheduled to be part of Allan's program this Friday, Oct. 2 from 1 pm to 2 pm at 91.7 FM.

At our table, we had our peace wheel, penny poll and usual materials, including the yellow "It's My Life!" books that now have a new CD included that has a good list of post-high school options in Texas. The books with the new CDs were just shipped free to us by the AFSC office in Chicago.
They have made CD's for about 10 states, including Texas, where military recruiting is highest. I gave a copy of the book and CD to the school librarian, who showed particular interest (she said her daughter is doing an AMERICORPS program in New Orleans). We gave away about 6 more books, as well as buttons, "Arlington West" videos and "Addicted to War" books to students as prizes for the peace wheel.

I changed out the people on the peace wheel slightly, adding Michael Franti (musician who coined "you can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb it into peace") and Wangari Maathai (Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate for tree-planting). No one was familiar with Ms. Maathai, but hopefully, they learned. Hart did the penny poll -- not sure yet of results. I had made a new banner, showing a large peace sign in the shape of a tree, that read "Peace is Green" and "Peace is Creative" -- trying to emphasize the environmental connection. We have a new "WAR IS NOT GREEN" flier, too.

It was "twin day" at McCallum, so some students were dressed alike in pairs.
I especially enjoyed seeing a young man and woman walking together with awesome, matching Mohawks.

We had two teachers and a couple of parents come by and like our stuff.
Student interest was good. Some remembered us from last spring and came by to do the peace wheel and penny poll again. No flak from the police this time about our buttons (showing a gun with its barrel tied in a knot).

There is an Amnesty International student group at McCallum, and their faculty sponsor was one of the teachers who stopped by. He said maybe he could interest them in bringing us in as guest speakers and showing the film, " The Cost of War." I had a DVD with me and gave it to him. It's a really good film with interviews of vets from around the state, including Iraq war veteran and GI resister, Mark Wilkerson.

Upcoming tabling dates:

Monday, Oct. 12 -- Garza HS
Friday, Oct. 16 -- Lanier HS
Monday, Oct. 26 -- Akins HS

Here's the list of peacemakers on our peace wheel this fall. Study up!

Peace Heroes and Sheroes
defending freedom through creative nonviolence

Gator is an award-winning slam poet and emcee in Austin who was president of his class at Reagan High School. He has been active with the Texas Youth Word Collective and the band, Public Offender, whose latest CD, Drop Jewels, is a call to men to stop violence against women.

Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for leading the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, a tree-planting effort undertaken mostly by women’s groups. Maathai earned a doctorate degree and has written and spoken extensively about conservation and human rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) is perhaps the best known of all US Civil Rights leaders. Following methods used by Gandhi and the freedom movement in India, King’s oratory, writings and personal example directed the movement in using nonviolent strategies such as mass marches, boycotts, sit-ins and direct negotiations in achieving equal rights.

John Lennon (1940 – 1980) was a member of the British rock band, The Beatles, and also had a successful solo career. He and his spouse, Yoko Ono were outspoken peace advocates who expressed their views through music and performance art.

Michael Franti is a musician, composer and poet. He produces an annual POWER TO THE PEACEFUL music festival and tours with his band, Spearhead. He combines different forms of music like hip hop, jazz and reggae and is well-known for his lyric, “you can bomb the world to pieces, but you can’t bomb it into peace.”

Cesar Chavez (1927 – 1993) led worker strikes, boycotts and marches for higher wages and better working conditions for agricultural workers in the US, including South Texas. He and Dolores Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers, led the successful California grape boycott and helped organize other labor organizations in Texas and the Midwest. A statue of Chavez stands on the UT campus.

Julia Butterfly Hill is a poet, speaker and environmental activist who lived for two years on a platform 18 stories high in a 1,000 year-old redwood tree in California as a protest against clear-cutting. Her book about that experience, The Legacy of Luna, was published in 2000.

Flobots is a rock/hip-hop band based in Denver. Their lyrics promote nonviolent social change. Their current release is Fight With Tools.

Mohandas Gandhi (1869 – 1948) was one of the most influential nonviolent activists in history. He helped lead India to independence from British Colonial Rule and his nonviolent methods inspired MLK and others in the US Civil Rights Movement.

Helen Keller (1880 –1968) was the first deafblind person to graduate from college. She learned to speak and became a world traveler and author who was outspoken in her advocacy for peace, women’s voting rights and labor rights.

Barbara Jordan (1936 – 1996) was an attorney who, in 1966, became the first African- American woman voted into the Texas Senate and, in 1972, the first black woman from a southern state voted into the US House of Representatives. She later taught at the LBJ School for Public Affairs in Austin. In April 2009, a statue of Barbara Jordan (the first statue of a woman on campus) was installed at UT.