Tag Archives: League of Revolutionary Black Workers

WHAT HAPPENED TO COLLABORATION AND COALITION BUILDING?

Control, Conflict and Change Book Club Discussion. Photo by Ken Castle, 1971. Copyright 2017.

I’m an activist, I can’t stop. I’ve been pursuing social justice issues for fifty years. I’ve been an organizer as well as a foot soldier in many stages of the social justice movement and feeling good about my skills. But over the last few years as I’ve begun to write about my experiences, I’ve faced a new problem in my life, a wall of anguish about my ability to master the challenges of social media, when all I want to do is communicate with my readers.

I  can see the good in social media. Activists all over the country have harnessed its power to spontaneously express outrage and get people on the streets to protest our social ills. It has changed our social conversation and has clearly brought issues of race and white supremacy in our country into timely focus for broader discussion. But where is that discussion occurring?

There is a quote from Alan Kay that resonates with me, “The best way to protect the future is to invent it. 

If we want social change, we need to create the educational opportunities, the collaboration and coalition building necessary for a better tomorrow.

Here are my problems with social media as a foundation:

  1. Social media encourages isolation.
  2. Social media has reduced our social interactions to like, comment, share, tweets and retweets or simply post a photo. Living life in the social media fast-lane robs us of the poetry and warmth of human communication. To solve our social issues, we need to talk.
  3. Social media can speak falsehood or truth. Our right to know the truth is one of our most precious democratic values.
  4. My friends and cohorts text often. Yes, we accomplish a lot of work but I regret the loss of the sound of their voices.
  5. The depth of post-9/11 surveillance may never be totally known to us but anyone who uses a credit card, a smart phone or signs-on to social media is already under surveillance.

It’s time to get together and talk.

Check out my new book: What My Left Hand Was Doing: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist and start your own discussions.

Click “follow” at the top of this page for updates on publication.

GRIEVING AND LEGACIES

I’m grieving right now. At the moment my pain is who I am. For forty-five years, Mike Hamlin was my confidant, my lover, my husband, and my best friend. In that sense, I have nothing to complain about. I was so fortunate to be loved by Mike who was both a committed black labor activist and a devoted family man. Mike gave me everything in life that mattered. As a mutual friend told me recently, “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.”

I am desperately working to finish my book which is a tribute to Mike, our love for each other and for those who give their hearts to the struggle for social justice. My story takes place in Detroit during the tumultuous years of the 60s and 70s, but it is more–in that I seek parallels in our current period and offer lessons learned on how to avoid mistakes we made in the past.

Mike was a big supporter of my decision to use the written word as a medium for reflecting on our history. He was also my first-line proofreader, which led to many hours of mutual reflection on the period and what it means today. Our long discussions revealed many facets of the intense aspects of being in a movement. I learned, and he learned many details of our experiences during this period that in our busy lives, we had never discussed before.

Now you can read about it in my UPCOMING BOOK:

What My Left Hand Was Doing: Lessons from a Grassroots Activist

       by Joann Castle

Includes an Activist’s Survival Guide.

COMING IN FALL 2017: “Follow” my blog to get the latest details.

VIOLA LIUZZO LOVED HER CHILDREN ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR A BETTER WORLD

On Sunday, April 12th, Mike and I had the honor and the privilege of meeting the children of civil rights martyr, Viola Liuzzo. Viola’s tragic death in Selma, Alabama in 1965 was the event that brought me into the civil rights movement.  In many ways, Viola was like me, a local white woman raised Catholic, with five small children. She was an empathic woman with a big heart and when the call went out to support those brutally assaulted as they marched for voting rights, Viola headed to Alabama

On March 25th, as Viola was shuttling marchers back to Selma, she was murdered on the highway by members of the Ku Klux Klan. In the car, was an FBI informant who later bragged about the killing. The FBI went on to smear Viola’s name and attempt to destroy her family.  Somehow, I felt a kinship with Viola and I understood why she was compelled to go to Selma. In a sense, that week in 1965, I stepped into the movement to take her place.

Mike Viola Liuzzo's children

Mike with Viola Liuzzo’s children.

This month, in Detroit, Viola’s family was given a hero’s welcome on the 50th anniversary of her death. She was posthumously awarded a degree at Wayne State University where she was a student. Among the many events in her honor, was a Morris Dees lecture at Wayne State Law School, a tribute at Macomb Community College, and a celebration of her life at the Unitarian Church on Wayne State’s Campus. A park near her home in Northwest Detroit was re-dedicated in her honor.

Mike and I are grateful for the opportunity to converse with four of her children. It has been a difficult road for them as they struggled to vindicate their mother’s image from slander by the FBI. “She prepared us,” their daughter Mary told us. “It was the way she raised us.” “Thank you, Mom. You loved us enough to fight for a better world.”

Please click  ‘follow’ on this website and join Mike and I on our journey.

Personal Histories in the Struggle for Justice.

A MOTHER’S BATTLE AGAINST INJUSTICE

Against the Tide Books is dedicated to publication of historical narratives that others can learn from. That is the goal of my new book. The work is directed at young mothers of social conscience, seeking to give them confidence and change the way they think about their role in the broader world that their children will inherit.

In the spring of 1967, I moved my family from the suburbs into the city to expose my children to a real world environment and teach them about social responsibility. We arrived just a few weeks before the 1967 civil disturbance and we became deeply involved in the movement for black self-determination that followed.

By 1969, I was working with Michael Hamlin, a leader in the movement for black workers power. Mike and I developed an idea for a book club that would bring blacksJoann CCC and whites together in a multiracial educational forum geared to developing the support of whites for the black struggle. Three hundred and fifty people showed up for the first meeting.

My oldest son, Ken, recently came up with this photo of the Control, Conflict and Change book club, April 1971, at Central Methodist Church in Downtown Detroit.

My new book is finished. Watch for my story of these turbulent and rewarding years.   Between Two Worlds: A Mother’s Battle Against Injustice by Joann Castle. Follow my journey as I work to get the book published.

Click ‘follow’ on this website and join us on our journey.

BURTON THEATRE VENUE PROMOTES COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

Mike and I recently attended a showing of the movie, “Brothers on the Line” at Cinema Detroit an independent film theatre in Detroit’s midtown district, and the original site of the Burton Theatre whose name still stands at the driveway entrance. Mike was invited to participate in a panel discussion of the film.

“Brothers on the Line” is a well-constructed documentary covering the story of the Reuther brothers and the making of the U.A.W. Written and directed by Sasha Reuther, grandson of Walter Reuther, this film stands both as a fitting memorial about the dedication of the Reuther family to a more just society as well as IMG_5219an excellent educational tool for our younger generation.

The panel was introduced by Tony Paris, lead lawyer at the Maurice Sugar Law Center, and included Graham Cassano, author, professor, and film critic from Oakland University; Steve Babson, author, labor educator, and union activist who assisted with production of the film; and Mike Hamlin, co-founder of the Inner-City Voice newspaper and one of the leaders of DRUM and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, who spawned a black workers movement in Detroit in the late 1960s.

We should support Detroit’s independent film theatres that offer alternative films and venues for interactive community discussion. Our appreciation goes out to Paula and Tim Gathiet who are keeping the Burton Theatre tradition alive. Check them out at: www.cinemadetroit.com.

Mike’s book. A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Workers Black Power in Detroit is a book for labor activists, students and educators, community organizers and lovers of black history. Order your copy now on this website. Also available on Amazon.com.

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