Tag Archives: #civil rights

SOMEONE NEEDS TO SAVE US. WHO WILL IT BE?

By Joann Castle, December 5, 2017

Last evening, in a spontaneous late night gesture, I playfully posted the trailer for the movie, Avengers; Infinity War, on our Against the Tide Facebook page, under the caption “Someone Needs to Save Us!”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfuNTqbHE8&feature=youtube

While Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the avengers may have something to teach us about uniting against the enemy, the Marvel super heroes cannot save us. The reality is that we have to save ourselves, and that won’t happen on Facebook or Youtube or Twitter. These social media sites function well as communication and networking tools but saving ourselves requires hard work.

Avengers_(Marvel_Comics)_vol_3_num_38

Marvel Studios Photo

I don’t know about you but the character of the Facebook feed I am getting from my friends has significantly changed over the last several months. Everyone is getting very serious because we realize that our democracy is under attack. Mostly, my feed consists of petitions to sign, requests to contact my congressmen or women, solicitations of contributions for social justice causes, requests to support people running for elected office, for victims of injustice, for tragedies like Puerto Rico, for Dreamers or immigrants being torn from their families by ICE.

Make no mistake, I support these efforts. I sign petitions and contribute what I can but sitting at my computer is not going to create the dynamic coalition that is needed to make change. We need to get off our computer chairs, our iPhones and Tablets and stand up for what we believe in.

Go to your congressman’s office, run for an elected office, volunteer at your local school, homeless shelter or soup kitchen, mentor a child, support a family fractured by the actions of ICE, hold a voter-registration event, attend discussions at your local bookstore or Indivisible group and meet people like yourself.  Collaborate and develop coalitions with other groups in your communities that share your values. This is a ground-up fight. Speak up; speak out or you may be the last one standing and have no one to speak for you.

I recently posted a Youtube video, rEVOLUTION CINCY. The video was written, produced and directed by Liz Wu, a talented young musician from Cincinnati. The message is a call to action geared to young people in their communities but its message applies to all. Liz’s music will bring you to your feet with a mesmerizing beat and lyrics that resonate today:

“Vote with your dollars, vote with your time, vote with your actions, vote with your mind.” This musical gem is followed by a list of local issues where people can vote by zip code, choosing the three biggest issues in their communities that need attention. This is an organizing strategy intended to get folks together and do something. Become a superhero and do something to aid your community.  View the video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jE6tdr40ZU/.

Art and music created by our young people offer creative space for thinking about our future in new ways. Be inspired and cultivate your own super hero talents as you stand up and fight in our unfortunately, very real infinity war.

Everybody’s busy; it’s the nature of our lives. But this is the perfect time to ask ourselves: How can we direct our actions in the time we can muster, to have a meaningful impact on saving our communities today? Become an empowered patriot, fight for the values you believe in, civil rights, due process and a truly representative democracy. So, step aside Captain America, we’ve got work to do.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

Coming soon…

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LET’S TAKE A WALK AROUND MY BOOK COVER (Literally)

Last week I wrote about my book’s title, Today, I invite you to move one step deeper into my work by taking a peek at my book cover. At the moment, my book cover looks like ‘Flat Stanley’ (a character familiar to kindergartners and their parents) because the innards are not yet bound.

I’m feeling impatient as I wait for the printer. Why don’t you join me and we’ll explore my story through the photographs on the cover. You will be opening the book from the right. So, let’s begin there.

  • The first photo was taken by, my then 12 year old son, Ken Castle, when the Detroit Anti-STRESS contingent went to D.C. to protest at Richard Nixon’s second inaugural ceremony. If you look closely, you can see me in the lower right of the photo. STRESS (Stop the Robberies; Enjoy Safe Streets) was a brutal undercover police decoy unit that was entrapping and murdering young black men in Detroit. The unit’s military ‘search and destroy’ tactics were approved and conducted under the leadership of Police Commissioner John Nichols.
  • The second photo, also taken by my son Ken, shows me moderating a Control, Conflict and Change Book Club (CCC) session. The book club was conceived and founded by Mike Hamlin and me in the early 1970s. We began our organizing effort supported by the Ad-Hoc Action Group Against Police Brutality and Blackstar Bookstore, a black printing operation funded by the Black Manifesto. We benefited from Sheila Murphy’s talents and influence among both black and white radicals in Detroit and participation by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Ultimately, the CCC Book Club became an extension of the Motor City Labor League and the Black Workers Congress.
  • The next image is a still shot from the film documentary, “Finally Got the News,” a Blackstar Production. Mike was a co-founder and the director of Blackstar. The film was originally conceived by John Watson from the League and created by California Newsreel. If you want to understand the atmosphere in Detroit after the 1967 Rebellion, take a look at this film on YouTube to give you a sense of the period: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=finally+got+the+news.
  • The 12th Street rebellion photo on the book’s spine, along with the photo of Father William Cunningham, Pastor, Church Of The Black Madonna, are from the Detroit News Collection, courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University.

    Back Cover

  • Father Cunningham mentored me into the Civil Rights Movement in 1965, at the intersection of the brutal police actions at Selma, Alabama and the murder of Viola Liuzzo, a white woman from Detroit. An informant for the FBI, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, confessed to the murder but no one was ever prosecuted.
  • The photo of the cops on 12th Street is from the Detroit Free Press and is in the public domain.
  • The photo of the Castle-Hamlin children on the lawn of the Boston House is from my private collection. It had to be photo-shopped to get all my children in a small frame to fit on the book cover.
  • The photo of Frank Ditto and the crowd at the Hourglass demonstration was also taken by Ken Castle. Hourglass was an organization launched out of our home just a few months after the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. The purpose of the organization was two-fold: “to support [pressure] the Catholic Church to contribute funds to programs fostering black self-determination and to destroy racist attitudes in the white community.”

Thank you for taking this walk with me. I am working hard to get this book in your hands. Book publishing is a very complicated business.

WHAT MY LEFT HAND WAS DOING: LESSONS FROM A GRASSROOTS ACTIVIST

By Joann Castle   Coming soon…

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