HOW DO WE OCCUPY THE GAP?
Learn about the alliance between African American faith leaders and the Occupy movement — Occupy the Dream — from two of those who made it happen: David De Graw, one of the central figures in the leaderless and horizontal Occupy/99% movement and Dr. Ben Chavis, longtime civil rights leader, from his youthful days with King, to his leadership of the Million Man March, to his current role in the Hip Hop Summit Action Network. The coalition called a National Day of Action for Martin Luther King Day, January 16, 2012,, with demonstrations in multiple cities nationwide, focusing attention on the injustice visited upon the 99% by a financial elite. You can learn more at occupythedream.org.
DAVID DeGRAW is founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com, as well as OWSnews.org, formerly editorial director of MediaChannel.org, and author of The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States.
In 1965, while a college freshman, BENJAMIN CHAVIS became a statewide youth coordinator in North Carolina for the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As a chemist, he was a founder of the environmental justice movement, then an organizer of the Million Man March, and since he has been CEO and Co-Chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, in New York City which he cofounded with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
ELISE WHITAKER, Action Committee, OccupyLA
DAVID DeGRAW, OWSnews.org, AmpedStatus.com
TODD GITLIN, The Sixties; Letters to a Young Activist
SARAH VAN GELDER, YES magazine,
editor, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
I have invited four guests to have a conversation about the movement referred to as the Occcupy movement, the Occupy Wall Street movement, or the 99% movement. From a group of people encamping in New York city September 17th, to affiliated actions or camps in 900 cities in the US and the world, through the removal of most of the physical camps — where do we stand now, where do we go from here?
I will ask for a brief update of status reports from around the country and then I want to explore the impact so far, its meaning, its prospects, its challenges and possibilities. How does OWS/99% interact with other movements and other political entities, including the 2012 elections and the Democratic party? How much of our hopes can we fulfill through this movement? How wide can it be? How far can it go? And what will it demand of us?
SARAH VAN GELDER is co-founder and Executive Editor of YES! Magazine and YesMagazine.org. She was a television and radio producer, a community organizer, founder of a cooperative of food co-ops, and a founding board member and resident of Winslow Cohousing. She is editor with the staff of YES Magazine of THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement.
TODD GITLIN, a professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the Ph. D. program in Communications at Columbia University, holds degrees from Harvard University, University of Michigan, and UC Berkeley (sociology). Giltin was the third president of Students for a Democratic Society in 1963-64, and is the author of fourteen books, including, and Letters to a Young Activist; The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage; aND The Whole World Is Watching. He gave three lectures on media, revolutions, and democracy as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the American University in Cairo between March 23 and 29 of this year.
DAVID DeGRAW is an investigative journalist, founder and editor of AmpedStatus.com, as well as OWSnews.org, formerly editorial director of MediaChannel.org, and author of The Economic Elite Vs. The People of the United States. In DeGraw’s expanded “reports” he piles on (amply footnoted) data with a relentless fury that makes a reader want to cry uncle. Then he connects the dots, building a narrative that makes clear “uncle” is not an option. DeGraw’s challenge: Will we the people come together to take on our common enemies – the economic elites who have stolen our money, our media, and our democracy – before they steal our future?”
Politics and the media have for the most part shown themselves impotent, indifferent, or in cahoots when it comes to confronting and rolling back the takeover of the United States by the super-rich and the super-corporations.
Since the days of Clinton, we’ve been reminding ourselves of the words of FDR to progressives pressing for the New Deal — “Make me do it.” Envying the attention and power granted the tea party. Millions march all over Europe in response to austerity measures that make the people pay for the failures of the financial class. Millions march in the Arab Awakening when hunger, poverty, corruption, and autocracy prove too much to bear and social media connects and informs the people like never before. When will Americans take to the streets?
September 17th, a small group of demonstrators camped out in a downtown New York park and Occupy Wall Street was born. Occupy Los Angeles emerged a week ago, October 1st. Both are alive and well. As of Saturday the Occupy movement has spread to 1,016 cities in the US and abroad. There has been carping in the mainstream media about the movement’s lack of focus, lack of clear message, lack of specific platform or demands. The closest thing to a brand for the movement so far is the claim that, “We are the 99%”. I think this is a wonderful opening. It’s based on cold hard facts. It is inclusive. Even a tea partier knows they are part of the 99%. Inequality is problem #1 in this country. from which all else follows, including a corrupted political system that is not able to meet the challenges we face.
I don’t think anyone knows where this goes…At some level a lot of us have grown so resigned to the dominance of money in our society that I’m not sure too many have a plan how to get from here to where we need to get.
I think we each also have to invent the role we are going to play as this story unfolds.
I’ll be joined by representatives for both Occupy Wall Street — NELINI STAMP (Working Families Party) and MELANIE BUTLER (Code Pink) — and Occupy Los Angeles — LISA CLAPIER (media, Occupy LA) and SHARIF ABDULLAH (Commonway.org). I plan to ask them to tell their individual stories, report what’s happening around them and what they think it means.