Category Archives: March 2014

David Barsamian to Speak at CMC SpringBoard, March 21

by Joe Courter

The Civic Media Center is really pleased to have David Barsamian as the guest speaker for the annual SpringBoard fundraiser on March 21 at The Wooly (20 N. Main St.).

Barsamian is the award-winning director of Alternative Radio (www.alternativeradio. org) and author of many books. His latest is Power Systems: Global Democratic Uprisings & the New Challenges to U.S. Empire with Noam Chomsky.

One of America’s most tireless and wide-ranging journalists, he has altered the independent media landscape, both with his weekly radio program and with his many books with Chomsky, Richard Wolff, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Arundhati Roy, and Edward Said. His articles and interviews appear in The Progessive, The Sun, Z and other magazines and journals. A much in-demand public speaker, he lectures all over the world. He was the keynote speaker at the National Campus & Community Radio Conference in June 2013 in Winnipeg. For his work on Kashmir he was deported from India in September 2011 and has not been allowed back since.

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Scott Camil: Resistance, Liberation

by Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Vietnam War veteran and political activist, Scott Camil, will speak about the release of the new Samuel Proctor Oral History Program Gainesville 8 collection on Wednesday, March 12 from 12:50 to 1:40 p.m. at the Ustler Hall Atrium on the University of Florida campus. The event is co-sponsored by the UF Women’s Studies Department.

Last fall, the oral history program completed interviews with participants in the Gainesville 8 trial. As part of this collection, Camil and jury members donated personal documents to the oral history program that he will share at the event.

Danielle Ragofsky, an undergraduate volunteer at the oral history program, spent numerous hours sifting through the documents with Camil to prepare for permanent housing at Library West. The documents and oral history collection will be available for the community and students to use. Camil will also share his thoughts on patriotism, activism and government spying.

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Never Can Say Goodbye: Amiri Baraka (1934–2014)

by Paul Ortiz

“The spirit will not descend without
—Blues People: Negro Music in White America (1963)

Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones) was one of the greatest poets in American history. A two-time recipient of the American Book Award, he founded the Black Arts Movement, a multimedia explosion of poetry, prose, paintings and forms of expression rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power, and the global anti-colonial struggle. His contemporaries in the Movement included literary giants such as Sonia Sanchez, Lorraine Hansberry and Ishmael Reed who used words as weapons to attack the rigid systems of oppression that degrade social relations in the United States.

Amiri Baraka’s words were variously incisive, wide of the mark, angry, joyous, fiery, loving, wicked, satirical, incendiary, full of hate, full of love, strident, whispery, soft as down, hard as iron. Like all great artists Baraka refused to integrate into what he understood to be a fundamentally corrupt society. After winning the prestigious PEN Open Book Award for his magnificent “Tales of the Out and Gone” (2008) he said “Art is a weapon in the struggle of ideas, the class struggle. The bourgeoisie uses the arts to valorize capitalism, whether books, films, drama, music. The most progressive artists can never get the exposure that the artist prostitutes get. Mao said even arts, literary criticism et cetera is part of the class struggle. So that we must utilize works that are artistically powerful and ideologically revolutionary.”

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History and the People Who Make It: Eddie Steele

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the twentieth in a continuing series of transcript excerpts from the collection of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida.

Eddie Steele was interviewed by Amanda Noll [N] and Paul Ortiz [O] in 2010.

S: I’m actually from Isola, Mississippi. I was born and raised here.

My father, he was a farmer. My mother, she work at the fish processing plant, until her health fail her, from [19]74 up into 1996. She was able to send kids to college. I also started working there in 1987, I was a production worker and I was promoted to personnel counselor.

All those years I desired to be a union rep, but I just been a rep now for going on two months, and I’m getting the hang of it, kinda enjoy it. I deal with the employees anyway, over six hundred employees been to personnel counseling. So same six hundred employees that I reprimanded, terminated, and suspended, I represent them now, against the company.

When it started out, there wasn’t a union at all. They got to pay the minimum wage, but, vacation, insurance, and even a 15-minute break, that’s at the discretion of the company. My mother started working there, she had no benefits. When she left, she had insurance, she had a pension plan that she drew from every month after her health failed her, so the union improved things a whole lot.

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Gainesville Women’s Liberation Speaks Out on Abortion

katieby Katie Walters

When I got an email from Gainesville Women’s Liberation advertising a planning meeting around the issues of abortion and birth control, I knew I had to attend. Why is the issue of abortion and birth control access so timely? After all, there has been no report of anti-choice legislation introduced so far in the Florida legislature.

Well, first of all, our state already scores a big fat F for abortion access ( We have many laws that place (medically unnecessary) restrictions on both women and abortion providers. Secondly, Texas! The laws that passed in Texas certainly will be tried in other states. We need a united movement that demands no restrictions on abortion — and we need to be ready to fight and show our strength in a moments notice. I encourage readers to join NWL’s listserv to stay on top of this issue in Florida. (To get involved, call Kendra at (352) 575-0495, or email

I decided to publicly speak out about my abortion because I am tired of attempts to shame and silence women. Like our sisters in Redstockings of the Women’s Liberation Movement proclaimed in 1969, “Women are the experts!”

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Tuition Equity for All

by Phil Kellerman, Migrant/Immigrant Advocate, Founder, Harvest of Hope Foundation

In February, approximately 30 University of Florida students of Gators for Tuition Equity lobbied legislators at the State Capitol for in-state tuition for foreign-born (undocumented) Florida high school graduates.

The students explained that foreign-born high school graduates meet Florida residency requirements and a large number have graduated with honors. Many of them have obtained DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) cards allowing them to work and pay taxes to the federal government and state.

They should not be charged out of state tuition rates of up to 300 percent more simply because they were born in another country.

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Civil Rights Struggle, Past and Present — March 12

by Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

On March 12, the UF Samuel Proctor Oral History Program will host a public panel entitled “The Florida Civil Rights Struggle: Past & Present” at 6 p.m. in Pugh Hall. The panel will be a vibrant commemoration of memories and legacies related to civil rights organizing in the state of Florida, bringing recognition to activists, highlighting key locations of civil rights organizing throughout the state in towns such as Ocala, St. Augustine, Tallahassee, Miami, and Gainesville. Audience members will receive a CD anthology of African American oral histories of segregation and civil rights with an accompanying educator’s guide.

The panel will feature key Florida movement activists including Dan Harmeling and John Due. Harmeling, a former UF student who was arrested for peacefully protesting segregation in St. Augustine, and civil rights attorney John Due, a participant in the CORE Freedom Rides that challenged segregated interstate transportation, will present on their local civil rights work.

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Thoughts on the March 11 Gainesville City Elections

by Joe Courter

March 11 will be the City of Gainesville elections. There are two single-member district races, and one at-large race. In District 2 and District 3, primarily northwest and southwest areas of the city respectively, the two incumbents are strong candidates. Republican Todd Chase has two opponents in District 2, Cheri Brodeur and Sheryl Eddie. Each are, while minimally funded, good people that could offer a lot to the position. They each face an uphill climb against Chase, and Brodeur is a straight-talking woman of broad experience, and might be the better of the two on the job. But I can’t grasp her reason to stay a registered Republican (she switched from life long Democrat in 1996 after Bill Clinton lied under oath), so I have to say vote for the positive attitude Democrat in the race, Sheryl Eddie.

District 3 has Susan Bottcher, running for re-election against Craig Carter, a Republican owner of a golf cart company. We strongly endorse Susan Bottcher to be retained on the Commission. She is smart and clear thinking, and if you live in her district, or if you want to plug into her campaign, please do.

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Landmark Decision: OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto

by Jenni Williams, Communication Director for Florida Organic Growers

January marked a landmark decision in the federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto.

The large plaintiff group of 83 American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations whose combined memberships total over one million citizens, including non-GMO farmers and over 25 percent of North America’s certified organic farmers, were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.

Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act that should they become the innocent victims of contamination by Monsanto’s patented gene-splice technology they could not perversely be sued for patent infringement.

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Czopek, Tattersall Win Penrod Award for Peace and Justice

For the fourth year running, the John A. Penrod “Brigadas” Award for Peace and Justice will be presented at the Civic Media Center’s SpringBoard fundraising event on March 21 (see details on p. 24). This year, the award will go to two recipients — Robbie Czopek and Jeremiah Tattersall.

In 2008, three progressive groups created the Brigadas Award to honor the legacy of John A. “Jack” Penrod, who dedicated his life to the fight of the people for dignity, freedom and a peaceful society. Gainesville Veterans for Peace, the Alachua County Labor Party and the United Faculty of Florida wanted to honor and encourage activists in the community for their consistent track record of movement work.

In his day, Jack Penrod, a veteran of the MacKenzie Papineau battalion in the Spanish Civil war, worked with the Congress of Industrial Organizations and helped organize the first faculty union at the University of Florida, United Faculty of Florida. He was a member of Veterans for Peace and a vocal opponent of the Iraq War; he helped found the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, worked closely with the National Organization for Women and Gainesville Women’s Liberation, and also dedicated time to the Alachua County Labor Party. Jack devoted his life to peace and justice, and he didn’t stop until his death in 2008 at the age of 94.

You can support the Penrod Award and the hard-working activists in the community by mailing donations to Gainesville Veterans for Peace, P.O. Box 142562, Gainesville, FL 32614. For more information, call 352-375-2832.

Read more about 2014’s Penrod “Brigadas” Award Recipients, Robbie Czopek and Jeremiah Tattersall, below.

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From the Publisher: On Disproportionate Effects

joe-WEBby Joe Courter

I don’t know what makes me more uncomfortable; watching the events of the world, or watching the way the media reports on the events of the world. The latter refers to the unseen, the unreported, the things that don’t fit into the accepted narrative.

I am haunted by the horrors the Bush administration unleashed in Iraq, as the instability and violence continues. Is that what this “democracy” we brought them looks like?

What about all the refugees who fled Iraq and were welcomed into Syria starting a decade ago? What have they got of a life now that Syria is up in flames? The undermining and overthrowing of authoritarian governments seems to be what the United States is pursuing around the world, but is this something else other than well meant almost utopian belief that “freedom” and “democracy” will blossom once the tyrants are overthrown?

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March 2014 Gainesville Iguana

march iguana coverCan’t get into town for the print Iguana? Or did you make it to the box a little late this month?

Well, don’t worry! We have the whole March 2014 issue here for your perusal.