January/February 2021 Gainesville Iguana

The January 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.

WGOT: Community radio in the COVID age

By Fred Sowder, WGOT Financial Coordinator

It’s certainly been a long year at your community radio station. Despite having a studio at the Civic Media Center, we’ve only been able to use it sparingly, limiting it to only a few broadcasters on a regular basis. 

Playing smart by sanitizing mic screens between each shift and practicing other safety measures have kept us almost 100 percent virus free. That said, our fundraising efforts have been thrown into uncertainty with this new world of remote operation and lack of live events. 

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Community ed classes on political trials


The class will focus on three political trials: The Chicago 8 and The Gainesville Eight and the trial of American Indian Movement leaders Dennis Banks and Russell Means; all were tried for conspiracy stemming from the political work.

Tues & Thurs, 1/26 and 1/28, 6pm – 7:15pm.  On ZOOM  – Course fee: $29


This class will focus on three death penalty cases: Sacco & Vanzetti for robbery and murder, Ethel & Julius Rosenberg for espionage, and Caryl Chessman for kidnapping and murder.

Tues & Thurs. 2/2 and 2/4, 6pm – 7:15pm.  On ZOOM – Course fee: $29 

Instructor: Gary Gordon

To register, follow this link http://bit.ly/Community_Ed_Registration or www.sfcollege.edu/communityed or 352-395-5193

History and the people who make it: Chinua Achebe, James Baldwin, Francis Bebey

Leading African-American author James Baldwin [JB] and African authors Chinua Achebe [A] and Francis Bebey [FB] spoke at the University of Florida’s African Literature Association conference in April 1980, introduced by Mildred Hill-Lubin [H] and questioned by various anonymous audience members [U]. This is the 64th in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection.

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler. [Trigger warning for the N-word!

H: I am very happy to introduce our three honored guests. Francis Bebey, a Francophone African writer from the Cameroons, who is also a recording artist musician who plays the guitar. In the center is the outstanding black American writer, Mr. James Baldwin, who has written quite a number of works. His most recent is Just Above My Head, but many of us know him for earlier books, particularly Go Tell It On The Mountain, and several other books of essays. On the other end is Mr. Chinua Achebe, a foremost Anglophone African writer, who has written several novels: his first, Things Fall Apart, and several others—A Man of the People; No Longer At Ease; and Arrow of God.

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Karen Smith: Rest in Power

by Joe Courter

In a year that took so many beloved people away, the death of Karen Smith in the early morning hours of Nov. 29 was a shocking and profound loss to so many in our community and beyond. At 46 years old, with a full plate of meaningful responsibilities and passions in her life —her kids, her extended family of friends and co-workers, her commitment to the cause of prison abolition and connections to the many prisoners she corresponded with, and the fellow activists in the cause who she inspired with her dedication and relentless positive attitude — gone in an instant of crashing metal in a single car accident on Waldo Road.

She was around the Civic Media Center a lot, but I can’t say I ever had much of a conversation with her; she would be busy, focused on her task(s). Laptop open, phone at hand, maybe pen in hand, or in conversation with others. She was a volunteer with the Free Grocery Store, which the CMC has been hosting during the pandemic. A person who worked with her a lot was Panagioti Tsolkas. He wrote the following in the blog Antistasis Project on Dec. 1, shortly after her death:

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Launching the Alachua County African and African American Historical Society, Inc.

by Jacob U’Mofe Gordon, Ph.D.
President, ACAAAHS

In 1994 the State of Florida Legislature passed Statute 1003.42 which mandated the teaching of African American History in all public schools in Florida. The statute was in response to the lack of an inclusive curriculum which recognized the presence and contributions of African Americans to the state’s history and development. This comprehensive law required that courses be taught in African American history, Women’s history, Hispanic history, and the Holocaust. 

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The Chicago 7 vs. Aaron Sorkin: Not a Netflix movie

by Gary Gordon

In 1969 the Federal government put eight men on trial and those eight men put the Federal government on trial. The eight men, officially “David Dellinger et al.,” were anti-war protestors charged with conspiracy to cross state lines to incite riots at the Democratic Party Convention in Chicago in 1968.

To the prosecutors, it was a criminal trial. To the defendants and their lawyers it was a political trial: they were there to put the war on trial as they had been in Chicago to challenge the Democratic Party’s support for the war.

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Rise from the ashes of 2020 with Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice

by Kate Ellison

Everyone is asking, plotting, and planning what’s next. It’s a new year, we have a new president, and a vaccine to push back the virus that has nearly paralyzed us for months. 

Astrologically, the Age of Aquarius finally dawned on Winter Solstice 2020. In 2021 we will be able to gather together, not to go back to normal, but to move forward with new vision and renewed determination. 

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GRACE Marketplace integrates Animal Welfare Program, co-sheltering into regular shelter operations, programs

by Pete Monte, Animal Welfare Coordinator, GRACE Marketplace

January 2020 marked the beginning of a two-year demonstration project funded by the Wagmore Foundation to establish infrastructure, policy, and procedure to make GRACE Marketplace the first “animal-friendly” low-barrier homeless shelter in the region. 

A community partnership of local non-profit organizations including St. Francis Pet Care, the Humane Society of North Central Florida, and the Home Van Pet Care Project have joined GRACE with the common goal of improving access to services for people without housing and their companion or assistance animals.

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Food Not Bombs Gainesville re-organizes in solidarity with community

by Food Not Bombs Gainesville

Food Not Bombs Gainesville, an all-volunteer movement that receives donations and recovers food that would otherwise be discarded, re-organized in December and is now sharing fresh and prepared food with folx in and around downtown Gainesville on a weekly basis.  

FNB is rooted in three principles: 

  • the food we share is always vegan or vegetarian and free to everyone, and especially unhoused, marginalized and vulnerable folx
  • our local chapter is fully autonomous and makes decisions using the consensus process
  • FNB is not a charity and is therefore dedicated to social change in alignment with radical mutual aid theory and practice 
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Defend the Sacred Prayer Walk

by Vickie Machado

Saturday, Jan. 2 proved to be a clear Everglades morning as a handful of participants gathered by the Trail Indian Baptist Church at the east entrance to Loop Road off Tamiami Trail. 

By 8am, the few people soon grew into a crowd of several dozens — all with masks, keeping their distance — but with the specific purpose of praying for the land and defending the sacred. Organized by Betty Osceola, a grandmother in the Panther Clan, the event was a prayer walk that would span two days and 36 miles. 

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Updates from the Civic Media Center

by Joe Courter

The Civic Media Center is still in a holding pattern awaiting the ability to safely open up. 

The Free Grocery Store is still using the space for their food distribution twice a week. JoJo Sacks, our coordinator, has been doing a great job with setting up various online events, handling the sales of Slingshot Organizers, as well as working with and helping keep the CMC Board informed as to what’s going on. 

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Update on Seminary Lane: Judge’s final order/ruling

by Janice Garry

In the last Iguana, I wrote that a group of citizens was involved in dissenting against a Gainesville city approval of a multi-building, multi-parking garage development for student apartments in the center of the Seminary Lane neighborhood. 

We had filed an Administrative Hearing Appeal. Of note, this neighborhood was where African Americans had businesses, a school, mostly single-family homes and a thriving cultural epicenter. 

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From the publisher: Fear mongering

by Joe Courter

They don’t want everyone to vote. They engineer the system, and will make alterations to the system, so that the folks they don’t want to vote have a harder time, or simply can’t vote. Or if they can vote, they can not, as an unfavored interest group, win. That is what gerrymandering and voter suppression is all about. Blatantly in the beginning of this country, no women, no Blacks when it came to voting. They even tried to have voting restricted to just property owners (themselves). Maybe that is still what it is all about. The rich, the corporations, they are the owners. They want to stay in command.

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Residents, Native Americans fight proposed Micanopy Dollar General

by Homer “Jack” Moore

Micanopy residents showed up in force at a recent meeting of the Alachua County Development Review Committee to contest the planned construction by Concept Companies of a 9,000 square foot Dollar General convenience store at the intersection of Tuscawilla Road, the town’s southern entrance off U.S. Highway 441. 

Native Americans representing the American Indian Movement and the Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality organization were also in attendance. The proposed commercial building would trample on historical Native lands and portions of the battlefield of the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). 

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Veterans for Peace, 34th Annual Winter Solstice Concert December 19 – Virtual

Tickets can be purchased here!

History and the people who make it: Gainesville Women for Equal Rights – Part 4

Jane Hiers [H], Jean Chalmers [C], Cora Roberson [R], and Vivian Filer [F] speak in April 2009 with interviewer Steve Davis [D] about their time working with Gainesville Women for Equal Rights (GWER), one of the first integrated organizations in Gainesville. This is the 63rd in a series of transcript excerpts from the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection. 

We regret to report that Ms. Roberson passed away at her home on September 24; David Chalmers, quoted in earlier GWER excerpts, passed away last month (see pg 16).

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler.

D: What was your proudest moment as a member of GWER? 

F: How many do we get? [Laughter]

H: How many moments do we get to count? [Laughter]

F: Yeah, that’s right! We each get a different one.

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Scott Camil remembers David Chalmers, Hal Stahmer

I started UF in January of 1971 after graduating from Miami Dade with an AA degree in Pre-Law.

That month Jane Fonda came and spoke at UF. She was looking for patriotic veterans who served in Vietnam. She said that we needed to tell the American people the truth about the conduct of U.S. troops in Vietnam, and what was being done in their names with their money.

Jane’s talk got me involved in the Winter Soldier Investigation, which got me involved with Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

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Rest in power, David Chalmers and Hal Stahmer

October saw the passing of two men who made a great impact on both the UF community and the world. Both David Chalmers and Hal Stahmer led long, accomplished lives, each with strong ties to and inspiration from the struggle for the mid-twentieth-century civil rights movement. They wove that into their academic lives as nationally honored professors of history and religion, respectively, as well as in their lives outside the university in their longtime presence in Gainesville. They led full and rich lives that impacted countless people. Condolences to their life partners Jean Chalmers and Paula Stahmer, and their families and friends. The links to their obituaries/tributes from their families are at: https://tinyurl.com/Iguana1138 (David Chalmers) and https://tinyurl.com/Iguana1139 (Hal Stahmer).

Covering Florida Navigators

Covering Florida Navigators deliver free outreach and enrollment services to any Floridian that needs to enroll in health care coverage in the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace. They assist consumers with telephone, in-person, and online enrollment services and provide public education and outreach activities at locations throughout the state. Navigators are trained and certified to provide free and unbiased help to consumers as they shop for health coverage options through the Marketplace, including completing eligibility and enrollment forms.

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