On August 16, the Youth Organizing Institute gathered to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of this year’s participants. Graduates chatted and shared delicious food provided by community caterer, Eva Panjwani. We shared stories with movement elders and family members in the historic WW Finlator Hall at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church.
After a report-back from our NC to FL Youth Solidarity delegation to support the Dream Defenders, youth shared projects and performances they had worked on independently in small groups. Family and community members offered snaps and applause as youth performed poems, presentations, and art pieces on issues in the school system, intersections of oppression, the evolution of sexism and feminism, and how they can solve issues in their own communities. As this year’s YOI graduates transition into the school year, we are excited to support them in the amazing work they’ll embark on in their own schools and communities!
Youth from the Youth Organizing Institute, NC HEAT, and the North Carolina Student Power Union organized a caravan to Florida to join the Dream Defenders. The Dream Defenders are occupying the state capital building!
As we joined the occupation yesterday history was made as it was the first time ever enough letters were received to trigger a vote for a special session. The session will review stand your ground laws.
Go to dreamdefenders.com for more information
The School-to-Prison Pipeline is a national issue and requires creating a national fightback. The Dignity in Schools Campaign is helping local organizations coordinate and develop their campaigns to end this pipeline. Here are some of the recent victories, including in Wake County, NC.
DSC Members Win Community Involvement in School Resource Officer Training for Wake County Schools
North Carolina – On June 4, students with DSC member organizations NC HEAT/Youth Organizing Institute and the Education Justice Alliance, together with the Coalition of Concerned Parents of African American Children, attended the Wake County Public School System Board meeting to address the overuse of harsh discipline practices and arrests at the hands of School Resource Officers (SROs).
Click the link below to read the full story:
DSC Members Celebrate Victory in Los Angeles
On Tuesday, May 14, DSC members CADRE, Public Counsel Law Center, Labor/Community Strategy Center, and Children’s Defense Fund-California working with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition of Los Angeles on the Every Student Matters Campaign celebrated a groundbreaking victory when the Los Angeles Unified School Board approved a School Climate Bill of Rights that: bans suspensions for willful defiance; calls for stepped up implementation of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support and for the first time Restorative Justice; makes discipline, citation, and school arrest data available to students and parents; and clarifies the role of police in schools.
Click the link below for the full story:
D.O.E. Holds Annual Discipline Code Public Hearing
A chant of “Solutions not suspensions” echoed through the Stuyvesant High School auditorium Thursday evening, where a crowd largely made up of youth leaders assembled for the Department of Education’s annual hearing on the Discipline Code.
Click the link below for the full story:
On Thursday, July 11th, YOI joined several other area youth groups (SEEDS, El Pueblo, and Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s young farmer’s training program) on a field trip to Greensboro. The students boarded biofuel buses and then headed out to the first stop: a tour at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. The museum is located at the old Woolworth’s where the sit-in movement began, so we were able to see things such as the original lunch counters, dishes, and cash registers that were left behind when the department store closed.
Next, the buses headed over to the Beloved Community Center for lunch and fellowship with the community center staff and members of the NAACP. Our last activity was a grassroots history tour of Greensboro provided by the Beloved Community Center staff. Youth were able to see important historical sites such as Dudley High School and the site of the Greensboro Massacre. Visiting historical sites is an important way to remember our history and connect the work we are doing, as well as inspiring ourselves and honoring the sacrifices made by those who came before us.
On Tuesday July 9th we started the 4th annual summer Youth Organizing Institute. Over 20 youth from across the triangle gathered for the program. The first day was inspiring and will not soon be forgotten.
Along with the excitement of youth being able to meet other like-minded students, laughing during ice breakers and singing freedom songs, we began to build our ‘safe space’ that YOI participants and allies will grow and develop within in the next few weeks.
We began the day by getting to know each other and our stories. We described what ideals schools would consist of and discussed current problems young people are facing.
During the second part of the day we watched an inspiring film ‘Walk Out’ documenting the brave Chicano high school student-led protests that transformed California in the 1960s. Youth were able to open up about their own struggles with race and discrimination in their schools and their own desires to feel empowered and unified with other students.
Having spaces where youth can be empowered to tell their stories and can have honest and meaningful dialogue is rare. The excitement and wisdom that youth bring to the program serves as a reminder of why youth organizing is so important. While we are only just beginning YOI this year, the experiences that youth are bringing to the program are setting the stage for a transformative summer.
This work is invaluable, and we need our community’s help to gather the resources to make it happen. With only 4 days left on our online fundraising campaign we need help reaching our goal! Can you give $10, $15, or $20 to help show your support and solidarity for these inspiring youth learning the tools to make a difference in our communities?
We are thrilled to have over 20 high school students from across the Triangle convening to build community and gain the tools to be organizers and advocates on their own behalf. In this exciting and critical time in North Carolina we recognize that building youth leadership in the movement is more important than ever! We need your support to help build the skills and leadership of young people. Help us by donating today!
For the forth year, the Youth Organizing Institute is putting together an exciting program for young people who want to learn about social justice history and organizing. Due to overwhelming interest, this year we have DOUBLE the usual number of participants!
This summer we are hosting a special Grassroots People’s History Field Trip to Greensboro on July 11. The field trip includes:
- Admission to the International Civil Rights Museum, the site of former Woolworths and the place the Greensboro 4 kicked off the Sit-In Movement,
- A locally-made southern lunch served at the historic Beloved Community Center as we break bread with movement elders and share and listen to stories,
- A customized grassroots people’s field trip of Greensboro created by the organizers at the Beloved Community Center,
- Travel to and from Greensboro in a bio-diesel fueled bus,
- Participation on the bus by Moral Mondays organizers who will share stories and teach us Movement Songs.
The cost per person is approximately $30.
Two days after the June 24 “Moral Monday,” youth in NC called for an action to raise their issues. The action was called “Witness Wednesday.” NC HEAT leaders Q and Beatrice addressed the crowd at a press conference before a march to the Governor’s office. They demanded an end to the criminalization of youth and for fully funded quality education.
They spoke about legislation aimed at lowering the age to 13 when youth could be tried as adults, and spoke against privatization and the school voucher bill. The racist criminal injustice system that disproportionately incarcerates youth of color must be stopped. While the mobilizations on the state-wide level are continuing, NC HEAT is building a coalition around challenging police in schools and ending racist discipline practices.
Since April 29, members of NC HEAT have come out for weekly “Moral Mondays.” On June 24 thousands of people from across the state gathered. Over 120 people participating in non-violent civil disobedience. The reactionary policies being proposed include massive cuts to education, a school voucher plan, refusing the Federal Medicaid Expansion, and cutting unemployment benefits. NC HEAT will continue to raise youth demands, tell their stories, and be in solidarity every Moral Monday.