Saturday, May 30, 2015

Left Forum 2015 - Saturday Evening Event

From the 2015 Left Forum, held May 29 -31 at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. The conference theme was "No Justice, No Peace: Confronting the Crises of Capitalism & Democracy."

From the Organizers:

The 2015 Left Forum will take place in a period of excitement and challenge. Police violence is now being contested by a popular upsurge of protest and resistance. From the recent Syriza victory in the Greek elections and movements against austerity throughout Europe to the spread of horizontal-democratic politics around the world, and from the nationwide activism arising out of Ferguson and the Black Lives Matter movements, to the growing momentum to end the Cuban embargo, recent events and left politics are shaping up to be pivotal. How do these movements raise the question of confronting and ending the crises of capitalism and democracy? What type of movements will it take in the United States to overcome such challenges and where are they forming on the ground, and what is their scope? What type of institutions, systems and societal conditions are possible here, when transformed conditions of justice no longer take the forms of, “the aggrieved speaking to the grievance alleviators”? The Saturday evening event turns the exploration of these issues towards a discussion of social transformation as it has arisen, and can arise in the U.S. in relation to the Black Lives Matter, anti police-violence and anti police-militarization justice movements, among others.

Introductory Remarks:

Kristin Lawler (Member, Left Forum Board of Directors and Host for the Evening) is associate Professor and Chair of the Sociology Department at College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx. Her first book, The American Surfer: Radical Culture and Capitalism, was published by Routledge in 2011 and examined the politics of American surf culture during the twentieth century. She is a member of the editorial collective of the journal Situations: Project of the Radical Imagination; her work has been published there as well as in several edited collections, Z Magazine, and the digital forum of the Social Science Research Council. Dr. Lawler received her Ph.D. from the CUNY Graduate Center and worked as a staff organizer for the PSC, the CUNY faculty union. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and she is currently at work on a book on slacker culture and the labor movement.


Paul Jay is CEO and Senior Editor of The Real News Network with HQ in Baltimore. TRNN is independent of political parties, viewer supported and not-for-profit. TRNN does not accept advertising, government or corporate funding. This funding model allows for uncompromising broadcast journalism. Its mission is to be a daily video news service, online and on television, engaging a mass audience in solving the critical problems of our time. Prior to TRNN, Jay was for ten seasons the creator and executive producer of CBC Newsworld's flagship debate programs Face Off and CounterSpin, an award winning filmmaker, and founding Chair of Hot Docs! Documentary Film Festival.

Featured Speakers:

Alicia Garza is an organizer, writer, and freedom dreamer living and working in Oakland, CA. She is the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States, most of whom are women. She is also the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, a national organizing project focused on combatting anti-Black state sanctioned violence. Alicia's work challenges us to celebrate the contributions of Black queer women's work within popular narratives of Black movements, and reminds us that the Black radical tradition is long, complex and international. Her activism reflects organizational strategies and visions that connect emerging social movements without diminishing the specificity of the structural violence facing Black lives.

Glen Ford is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report (BAR) and Black Agenda Radio. He founded the Black Commentator which he left to found BAR with Bruce Dixon and Margaret Kimberley. BAR provides news, commentary and analysis from a Black Left perspective.

Kshama Sawant is an activist who brings a passion for social justice to her work. As a member of the Seattle City Council, she has been a voice for workers, youth, and the oppressed. After earning her PhD in economics, Kshama moved to Seattle and began teaching at Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and the University of Washington Tacoma. She joined Socialist Alternative in 2009, and since then has helped organize demonstrations for marriage equality, participated in the movement to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was a leading presence in the Occupy Movement. In November 2013, she defeated a 16-year incumbent Democrat to become the first socialist elected in a major US city in decades and the only Councilmember in Seattle outside the Democratic Party establishment. Kshama has consistently used her position to expose the ties between powerful corporate interests and a majority of the city's politicians - all Democrats. After being at the forefront of the movement that won a $15/hour minimum wage, Kshama helped win critical funding for homeless people in the City budget last year. She is up for re-election this year.

Makayla Gilliam-Price is a 17 year old Baltimore activist. Makayla founded the youth justice organization, City Bloc, and also organizes with Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, a youth led, grassroots think-tank which advances the public policy interest of Black people in Baltimore. She is a rising senior at Baltimore City College High School.

Thenjiwe McHarris is with the US Human Rights Network. She has spent her entire political and professional career challenging the injustices that imprison people and their communities in a life of poverty or one behind bars. She has worked on a number of campaigns including those that addressed state repression around the world, the transfer of military equipment and technology, capital punishment, excessive use of force by law enforcement, and poverty. McHarris began her political career calling for an end to policies and practices that contributed to acts of torture committed by law enforcement and currently helps to coordinate efforts to hold the US Government accountable for violating international human rights law.

Download the audio at the a-Infos Radio Project.