Category Archives: September 2016

History and the people who make it: Wilton Russell

Transcript edited by Pierce Butler

This is the 36th in a series of transcript excerpts from the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program collection at the University of Florida.

Wilton Russell [R] was interviewed by Ryan Morini [M] in 2012.

M: Your date and place of birth?

R: Red Bay Andros, the Bahamas. 22nd of December 1956 and I am 56. I born in a house about the size of this room and that house was two rooms, “the hall” where you to eat, sit down and talk and pray. The other is a bedroom, so that’s the first house that my grandmother did own. We built outta pine and made those lumbers themselves and my grandfather, something used to call axe, like a pickaxe and no prong on the back.

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Civic Media Center needs your help

by Joe Courter, CMC co-founder

The CMC has been providing Gainesville and Alachua County with a resource of information, a place to hold and attend events, and a place to meet and connect with other similar minded people who want to learn more and do more to make a better world. 

It has been a hard year, and it needs your help, especially those of you who know what a positive asset it is.

Regaining our 501(c)3 has proven hard. Community Service people had been a backbone of staffing day to day.  We don’t have them now.   Please if you have time, come and be a volunteer.

Our notifying people to renew memberships has slipped badly.  This would be a great time to renew your membership or make a donation.

We have the infrastructure for a coffeehouse, or cafe start-up for an independent enterprise within our space. Know someone interested?

We need web help and tech support if you have time and talents.

Let’s revitalize the CMC as we move into our 24th year!  D           

Community radio station at crossroads

By Fred Sowder, WGOT Financial Director

WGOT has been broadcasting part time at 94.7FM on Gainesville’s radio dial for 81/2 years. We’ve brought the community great local programming such as Counterpoise Reviews, featuring some of the great recordings of speakers from the CMC’s audio library and elsewhere.

Amazingly, Gainesville is also a college town without a college radio station and we endeavor to fill that gap with great local and independent music on long-running shows such as the Red Pony Music Hour and Things Be Blowin’ Around — the latter which had a long run on GROW Radio. These shows are hosted by local artists H.R. Gertner and Bill Perry, respectively. Other show hosts have also generously brought their former GROW Radio programs along to WGOT, further diversifying our music selection.

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Women’s Int’l League for Peace and Freedom public meeting, Sept. 25

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is having a public meeting at the Beltram Peace Center, Emmanuel Mennonite Church, 1236 NW 18th Ave., from 3-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 25.

Marybeth Gardam, Chair, Development Committee, WILPF US, will present information on the current global program and ways we can help on a local basis. For more information, see, find us on Facebook, or call 352-371-6944. 

Join us for Welcoming Week in Gainesville!

by Paula Roetscher

Multiculturalism, religious diversity, integration of immigrants, strong bonds between newcomers and long-term residents and positivity towards refugees — these are just some of the ideas that Welcoming Gainesville stands for.

The new nonprofit achieved to make Gainesville Florida’s first Welcoming City in March of this year and Alachua County the second Welcoming County in Florida in June. This means that both our city and county are part of the nationwide Welcoming America network, a group of over 100 cities, counties and nonprofit organizations that aim to develop programs, services and policies to welcome and successfully integrate immigrants and other newcomers into our community.

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Freewheel Project reopens

The Freewheel Project, located at 618 S. Main St., has recently reopened for its second season. We are a not-for-profit bicycle collective with a mission: to empower the culture of cycling through infrastructure, education, and accessibility.

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Black History Task Force hosts Town Hall Meeting

The Alachua County Black History Task Force is hosting its 2nd Annual Town Hall Meeting, on Sunday, Nov. 6, from 2-4:30pm at the Alachua County Library Headquarters.

Speakers include Dr. Leanetta McNealy speaking on “The School Board’s Position on Black History in All Public Schools,” and Dr. Brianna Kennedy-Lewis reporting on her research on “the racially disproportionate suspension and graduation rates of black students in our county.”

Other invited speakers include former A.C. Schools Superintendent, Dr. Owen Roberts. There will be musical and spoken word performances. Refreshments will be served.

The public – especially parents of children enrolled in Alachua County Schools – is invited to attend. For more information contact and (352) 792-6020. 

Citizens Co-op, RIP

by Joe Courter

In a town with a history of having a food co-op that went out of business many years earlier (the Hogtown Granary), there were a lot of people who were willing to invest in another one.

The motivators of the Citizens Co-op had a plan which sounded good on paper. They would raise the capital needed to start the store from the community, and then, once the Co-op was open, those very same investors would shop there and form a solid base of income from which the Co-op could grow. It does seem like a viable plan.

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Living wage campaign update

by Sheila Payne, Alachua County Labor Coalition

Now is the time to celebrate with City of Gainesville and Alachua County employees on the progress we have all made in advancing the wage scale for all workers in Alachua County.

And of course we need to keep forging ahead. We cannot rest till all of the wages of the lowest paid employees in Alachua County are indexed to at least 125 percent above the Federal Poverty Level ($14.60/hour in today’s dollars).

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Letter to the Editor

On August 17, 2016, the Doctor Oz television show had Monel Williams as a guest. They discussed how health insurance companies in this country deny thousands of their clients life threatening treatments. These insurance companies are in business to make profits, not to provide life saving treatments.

Doctors VOW to “DO NO HARM” when they dedicate their lives to caring for the sick. Insurance companies play God and CAUSE HARM when they deny doctors to provide the best treatment needed to care for their sick patients.

This country spends outrageous amounts of money to build war weapons to defend the country. A country full of sick people who cannot get needed treatments, don’t need defending—they need medical care.

I have been trying to get a bad tooth pulled for almost a year now. The insurance only pays for cleaning and X-rays. Why take X-rays in problem are not allowed to be fixed? I’m sure politicians and the wealthy would never endure being denied life threatening treatment for their own family, or suffer a toothache with one abscess after another treated with antibiotics over and over, for years.

Politicians spend billions of dollars running for office making all kinds of promises to oversee the best interest of the people. WHY VOTE? None of them care about the needs of the people. It is all a big profit making game to them.

Simonne Liberty
Starke, Fla.

Editor’s response: Organize, organize, organize.

Alachua County elections see clean sweep for progressives

by Joe Courter

The Alachua County progressive and environmental community proved able to prevail in the August 30 Democratic primary, with a big win for Robert Hutchinson, and most importantly, a clear 6 percent win by Mike Byerly, the County Commissioner who was the main target of a big money and negative campaign by the forces who wanted to swing the Commission to the right, and into the sway of those who hold the belief that Weyerhaeuser/Plum Creek would somehow be a benefit to Alachua County.

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Welcome to Gainesville: some tips for newbies

We have many regular readers, but there are those newbies, or ones that could benefit from some local knowledge which we share at this time of year. This goes especially for students set adrift in this little town with a big ass college scene.

CLAP and STDs … no, not a sexual precautionary. Courts, Lanes, Avenues and Places run East-West. Streets Terraces and Drives run North-South.

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Rally to end toxic prison slavery in solidarity with nationwide prison strike


Sept. 9 is the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising in New York, where national attention was drawn to the problem of prisons in this country. Learn how to participate in Gainesville and surrounding areas here:

This year there will be public demonstrations in support of prisoners who have called for a coordinated national work strike in response to extreme abuses they face, including toxic environments, discrimination and literal slavery based on the 13th Amendment which wrote prison slave labor into the U.S. Constitution.

The primary Fight Toxic Prisons (FTP) events will occur on Sept 10 at 10am in front of the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) of Coleman, located at 846 NE 54th Terrace, Wildwood, Florida 34785. FCC Coleman warehouses over 7,000 prisoners and is surrounded by mining operations.

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Gainesville IWOC strike on Sept. 9

The Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) has been in the forefront of the current organizing leading up to the planned strike.

The IWW is the only labor union in the United States that accepts inmate workers as members, and it is those members that make up IWOC, forming their own branches inside prisons and communicating with allies such as the Gainesville IWOC Solidarity Committee. More information about the IWOC can be found at

Leaflets will be distributed around Gainesville leading up to the local action on Sept. 9 at Walmart on Waldo Road from 5 to 7pm.

That evening they will be holding a demonstration outside of the WalMart on Waldo Road to raise awareness of WalMart’s and other corporations’ reliance on prison labor for the manufacturing and production of much of their merchandise, as well as awareness for the prison labor strike which will begin that day.

For more info on the Gainesville IWW and the local IWOC Solidarity Committee, check out the Friends of the Gainesville IWW page on Facebook, or email us at

Elections matter … even if it’s not what you want

by joe courter

Okay, so two major party conventions down, and here we are. As I’ve said before, thank you Bernie Sanders for having the gumption to run, and for being a catalyst for what could be a resurgence in progressive organizing. Yes, the Democratic party establishment had designed the system to work in Hillary’s favor, and they had their way with securing the nomination. But the Bernie people fought hard to be heard, and Bernie himself had some great, though subtle, moments. At the moment when he took the floor during roll call, he demanded the votes be recorded, and then said that Clinton had been “selected” as the nominee. Nice choice of words. And then when Clinton paid tribute to the Sanders campaign in her speech, he chose not to smile when the cameras were on him. Conscious and tactical, perhaps, but showing a resolve he knows, and we know, we will need to have if a movement is going to develop out of his campaign.

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Reportback from the DNC

From left: Miguel Valdez, Gainesville; Amos Miers, St. Pete; Giancarlo Espinosa, Miami; Dawn Abate, Stuart; Ali Kurnaz, Orlando; and Seth Alexander of Gainesville on Thursday night displaying signs they snuck inside the Philadelphia Convention Center at the DNC. The “I’m with Nina” stickers were in support of Sen. Nina Turner who found out, when she arrived in Philly, she would not be allowed to participate, without any reason given.  She is one of the few who have refused to endorse Hillary. Photo courtesy of Jenn Powell.

From left: Miguel Valdez, Gainesville; Amos Miers, St. Pete; Giancarlo Espinosa, Miami; Dawn Abate, Stuart; Ali Kurnaz, Orlando; and Seth Alexander of Gainesville on Thursday night displaying signs they snuck inside the Philadelphia Convention Center at the DNC. The “I’m with Nina” stickers were in support of Sen. Nina Turner who found out, when she arrived in Philly, she would not be allowed to participate, without any reason given. She is one of the few who have refused to endorse Hillary. Photo courtesy of Jenn Powell.

by Jenn Powell

My name is Jenn Powell. I was elected as a Bernie delegate for Florida Congressional District 5 on May 7.

The delegate election came over a year after Bernie announced his run for the democratic nomination. I started a group locally in May 2015, our first meeting had 15 anxious supporters ready to get to work. I started a group because I wanted to join one and couldn’t find one.

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September 2016 Gainesville Iguana

september iguana coverThe September issue of the Iguana is now available! If you want to get your hands on a hard copy, check out our distro locations here.