Monday, March 8, 2010

Keeping his(her)story alive at LBJ/LASA High School

On this day, 102 years ago, women in the needle work industry went on strike in NYC to call for higher wages, a shorter work day and an end to child labor. Rights taken for granted now, such as basic voting rights, were denied to women then, and were only gained through years (decades) of nonviolent action, including marches, petition drives, worker strikes and public demonstrations.

The his(her)story of such people's movements is not well-known among high school students, so tabling with our peace wheel and NOY literature at LBJ/LASA High School felt like the right place to be today. Students during both lunches were interested in the books, buttons and pamphlets at the table, and the peace wheel and penny poll were popular. Among the penny poll jars, health care and the environment received the most penny votes. At the peace wheel, it was good to see kids get interested in several of the people on the wheel whom they didn't know. We often hear students tell us that they attended Barbara Jordan Elementary School, or they know that Austin has a Cesar Chavez St., but they don't know who those people were. One student who took a peace wheel info sheet said, hopefully, that maybe some of those people would be on the TAKS test. I wish!

As Hart and I were setting up the table, a woman stopped by who was visiting LBJ as part of the Breakthrough Program, which aims to get low-income, first-generation students into college. Students can apply to the program in the 6th grade, and the program supports them from middle school through their high school graduation. This woman said she had lived in the Rio Grande Valley, where she had seen recruiters in the schools on a daily basis. She was glad to see our alternative materials, and we gave her a copy of the "It's My Life!" book as a resource for the students she works with.

Among the peace wheel prizes, we had "make bridges, not enemies" stickers sent out by CodePink, which provided a good opening for mentioning that International Women's Day bridge actions were taking place today around the world. Hey, we should have one in Austin, said a group of young women who were clustered around the peace wheel. Yes!

Photo above from the Million Musicians March for Peace, Austin, March 2009

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