January-February 2023 Gainesville Iguana

The January-February issue of the Iguana is now available, and you can access it here! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.

Stayed On Freedom highlights Gainesville’s Zoharah Simmons’ life, Black Power work

What: Presentation by author Dan Berger
Where: UF Smathers Library East
When: Thursday, Feb. 23

A talk featuring the new book Stayed On Freedom by author Dan Berger will be presented at the UF Smathers Library East on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 5 pm. 

It is a bit of a homecoming, as Dan lived in Gainesville from 1999 to 2003, largely splitting his time between UF and the Civic Media Center.

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Gary Gordon to teach community education classes

Santa Fe College in Gainesville will offer over 150 community education classes during its winter/spring term, split between in-person and on-line classes. For a complete listing, see: tinyurl.com/Iguana1524. Click the Enrich brochure link for details.

Two of the classes will be taught by author, musician, and former City Commissioner Gary Gordon: Introduction to Screenwriting and American Revolution: 1763-1815.

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Can independent journalism survive corporate control? Jeff Cohen speaks at Civic Media Center, February 15

Jeff Cohen will be speaking at the Civic Media Center Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 7pm to discuss “Can Independent Journalism Survive Corporate Control?” Jeff was a founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting in the 1980s and a co-founder of Roots Action (rootsaction.org), a watchdog and online lobbying group. The event is free; donations will be requested. 

Water rights amendment: Sign the petition for clean, healthy water

by Janice Garry

What right is even more fundamental than freedom of speech, or freedom of religion or right to bear arms? 

It is the right to turn on the faucet and have water that is not toxic to drink. 

Or to swim in springs that are not contaminated with fecal material. 

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Harn Museum’s Art After Dark

Thanks to a private grant, the Harn Museum of Art will remain open to the public until 9pm every THURSDAY beginning Jan. 5.

The extended hours offer Harn visitors more time to explore the permanent collection, experience special exhibitions, shop in the store and enjoy food and drinks while listening to music. 

Sunshine State Book Festival, January 27–28

The fourth annual Sunshine State Book Festival will take place Jan. 27 and 28, featuring 150 authors writing in 15 genres. 

This year’s keynote address will be given by Janis Owens, notable author of four novels, a regional cookbook, and a book of nonfiction. She will speak on Jan. 28 at 1pm. 

There will also be 10 readings by authors of various genres, 12 children’s book authors telling stories to kids, and a panel of 4 fantasy and sci-fi authors titled Other Worlds. 

The book festival is free and open to the public. All events will take place at Trinity United Methodist Church at 4000 NW 53rd Ave. in Gainesville. 

For more information and a full listing of events, visit sunshinestatebookfestival.com.

To Succeed Where Others Failed: Events on book detailing Marion County history

by Mary Savage

Retired Presbyterian minister and former Marion County DEC Chair Bruce Seaman will host several book-signings and discussions about his newly published book To Succeed Where Others Failed: The Untold Story of the Marshall Plantation Raid

The story brings to light the March 1865 Union raid on the Marshall Plantation, which was located near today’s Silver Springs, by black soldiers before the end of the Civil War. Historical research cited reveals the story of enslaved persons freed by the raiders who then led the way to Florida’s east coast. The cost per book is $15. 

The Rev. Seaman has served the Marion County community in many ways, including as DEC Chair from 2007 to 2010, past president of The Bridges Project Ocala, and co-host of the Friday Forum luncheons.

Details and events can be found at: bruceseaman.com/calendar.

From the publisher … Wars 2003 and 2023

by Joe Courter

I’ve been thinking more about this Ukraine mess in the past weeks, and it just hit me as I contemplate 2023, that this spring will be the twenty-year anniversary of the Bush administration’s war based on lies and the invasion of Iraq, which came right on the heels of the post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan. There was worldwide resistance to the Iraq war, demonstrations all over the world on a scale never seen before or since. Google “2/15/03 demonstrations.” 

Here in 2023, it is a very different situation. It’s being seen like a distant sporting event, and there is cheering for it in this country.  The U.S. is merely funding it, and is not going to be sending troops as was the case in 2003. And, regarding the cheering, imperialism kinda sucks no matter who is doing it, and support of the resistance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is understandable. But it is still war,  and the threat of wider war in Europe does exist. We are dealing with an authoritarian leader with no graceful way out. The situation is very dangerous.

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Goodbye, Old Friend

by Joe Courter

Well, I have done it. I no longer have a Gainesville Sun being delivered to me. No more newspaper to read with my morning coffee, as I’ve had for most all of the last 35 years. The final straw was continuing to receive it and read it after the elimination of letters to the editor and the editorials from various sources, and finding it such a hollow experience. 

Oh, I knew this break was coming, beginning with the elimination of the Scene magazine a few years ago and the gap that caused. We are in such a culturally rich city and there goes the part of the newspaper devoted to it. Next big thing was dropping the Saturday paper, another loss for the theater and music scene, and as well the sports on TV listing. And for those that cared, no reports on their high school sports is big, too. 

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Editors’ picks: News that didn’t fit

• Busted: Florida utility company allegedly paid ‘journalist’ for hatchet job on candidate 
reported by Ana Kasparian | The Young Turks | Dec. 21 | VIDEO – 10:57 minutes | tinyurl.com/Iguana1504
A Good Morning America producer, Kristen Hentschel, used her connections to try and influence elections while being paid on the side by massive utilities. According to an NPR report, she used her ties with ABC “at least three times to trip up Florida politicians whose stances on environmental regulations cut against the interests” of clients of Matrix LLC, a political consulting firm that was accused of spying on environmentalists and journalists for the benefit of its corporate clients.

• Concerns over disinformation grow after Musk relaxes Twitter ban on political ads
by Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams | Jan. 4 | tinyurl.com/Iguana1507
Twitter has relaxed a ban on political and issue-based advertising that’s been in place for over three years. Critics are concerned about the social media giant serving as “a major new forum for massive amounts of money to be spent to influence politics.”

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News from the Civic Media Center

by Joe Courter

We are back alive after the Covid shutdown. We have a new coordinator, John Wright, and he has really jumped into the job after health issues and personal setbacks caused our recently hired coordinator Chris Overly to resign in September. 

Our 29th anniversary at the Matheson Museum went well and we greatly thank them for having such a great space and their support. 

We were the site of a successful Queer the Fest benefit show on the Saturday of Fest weekend, and then we were a Fest venue on Sunday, which went well. 

Free Grocery store take over on Tuesdays doing both deliveries and in CMC pick-ups. 

We will have a table at the Downtown Arts Festival Nov. 19 and 20, right between Maude’s and the Hipp. There will be new stickers, an Art Raffle featuring a ceramics piece by Ana Varela and another piece by another CMC supporting artist TBA). 

We will also have brand new 2023 Slingshot Organizers, which can also be ordered at www.civicmediacenter/store. On Dec. 7, we will host veteran peace activist George Lakey, in an event co-sponsored by Third House Books.

This is the beginning of our 30th year, and we hope to build up to a grand event in October 2023. We thank everyone who has supported us over the years, and for your continued support.

Support Alachua County School Board swearing-in ceremony Nov. 22

by Tina Certain, Alachua County School Board District 1

It’s hard to believe that the swearing in ceremony of the new Alachua County School Board members is just 12 days away, on Nov. 22. As I embark on my second term, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on where we have been and where we are going. 

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History and the people who make it: William Atkins

This month, the SPOHP team is highlights two very important themes, antiracism and the political process. 

This 2018 interview with Mr. William Atkins, former Director of UF’s Multicultural Affairs focuses on the Black experience at UF, while exploring what student activism looks like. Mr. Atkins [A] was interviewed by Cheyenne Chang [C]. 

C: How did the UF community take your activism? What was the environment like for people of color and when things happened what was it like?

A: Directly connected to my experience, one of my favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela, “Education is one of the most powerful weapons you can use to change the world.” To me, that’s my approach to raising awareness around things and engaging with different people, using education as a tool. Not formal education like you gotta go to high school and college and get all these degrees, but this idea of lifelong learning as part of the education process. 

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‘Stripped’ signing off WGOT after 15 years

By Fred Sowder

WGOT Station Coordinator

Prior to WGOT first going on the air in January 2008, I started attending meetings about its formation back when the Civic Media Center was still at 1021 West University Avenue. We had a crazy idea to start a low power FM radio station with two missions: to be the college radio station that Gainesville and UF didn’t have, as well as to be a counterpoint to right-wing talk radio that still dominates those formats to this day.

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UF in the Mississippi Delta: 15 years of documenting the Black Freedom Struggle and the modern Civil Rights Movement

The University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) will host a multimedia presentation featuring UF students and commuity supporters from Arkansas and Mississippi, who will share lively stories of freedom struggles in the Delta region.

The event will take place in Pugh Hall on the UF campus on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 5pm. 

This is the inaugural event in the SPOHP’s Challenging Racism @ UF public program series. These programs will showcase how diverse communities are challenging racism on campus, in Florida and throughout the country. 

The first 100 audience members will receive a free copy of the Proctor Program’s 50th anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer booklet featuring oral histories of civil rights movement legends in the Delta. 

The Mississippi Freedom Project archive includes more than 350 oral histories, social movement symposia, organizing workshops, photographs and other materials highlighting the lives of civil rights activists, Black women mayors, labor organizers, educators, and history teachers on both sides of the Mississippi Delta.

Interviews contain stories from narrators who worked directly with Fannie Lou Hamer, John Lewis, Bob Moses as well as descendants of survivors of the 1919 Elaine Massacre. 

Interested in joining MFP? Come and find out how! Refreshments and food will be provided. For information on MFP, visit oral.history.ufl.edu/projects/mfp/.

Facebook Event Page: fb.me/e/2PmliIKBN.

Post Dobbs abortion care in Gainesville

by Bread and Roses staff

Whew, this year has been difficult. In the span of a few months, people seeking clinic based abortion care in Florida have had to reckon with a forced delay in care/24 hour waiting period (necessitating two appointments), a ban on procedures over 15 weeks, and the reversal of Dobbs.* 

In addition, and directly due to the Dobbs decision, Bread and Roses now cares for people from six different states.

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Rally: Time to retire the GPD K-9 unit

by Sheila Payne and Bobby Mermer, PhD, 

Alachua County Labor Coalition

The Gainesville community has waited months after the mauling of resident Terrell Bradley to hear what the Gainesville Police Department and the Gainesville City Commission will do with the troubled GPD canine unit. Scheduled meetings for September and October were abruptly canceled. 

In the interim, a highly stylized video produced by GPD excusing away any inconsistencies between the initial and final amended arrest reports was released, leaning heavily on ‘procedures’ being followed. That propaganda video also assassinates Mr. Bradley’s character. The takeaway: any terribly unfortunate incident happening to someone police interact with is always the suspect’s fault, so long as procedures written and interpreted by the police are followed.

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Interfaith Friends resume visits to Baker County ICE detainees

by Greg Mullaley

Two or three years ago I wrote to tell all of you about some wonderful people who call themselves Baker Interfaith Friends (see tinyurl.com/Iguana1474). 

Twice a month a couple of car loads of volunteers would travel the hour north to the Baker County Detention Center where people are being detained by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) pending deportation hearings.

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From the publisher: And here we are…

by Joe Courter

We can look back on Election 2022, see how things went and where we are. We are done here in Florida but vote counting continues elsewhere, and happily the Nevada Senate just came in for the Democrats. Now Georgia remains on Dec. 6 to hopefully add an insurance vote. The hyped and feared “Red Wave’ did not happen, and it appears the Democrats will hold the Senate. There seems to be a rebuke of election-denying Trumpers in many states. The strong Republican showing in Florida was actually an outlier nationwide. Our Blue Dot here held firm for the most part. It’s a shame James Ingle lost, and then there’s that “Single-Member District” vote … ugh.

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