“A New Sacred Space of Words”: old shul poems and essay by Paul (Pinny) Bulman

By Samina Shahidi

I met Paul (Pinny) Bulman through an informal network of poets who have won the BRIO (the Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award and to whom I belong. This organization is sponsored by the Bronx Council of Arts. BRIO winners are respectively granted fellowships, community projects and monetary awards for chosen manuscripts and other forms. Bulman received the 2014 BRIO for his collection of poems entitled old shul. Continue reading “A New Sacred Space of Words”: old shul poems and essay by Paul (Pinny) Bulman

Low-Wage Workers and the Solidarity Strike

By Steve Brier

Following more than a decade of working-class militancy and organizing successes in the 1930s, one of the first targets of the anti-union Taft-Hartley legislation in 1947 was the solidarity strike, what the great labor leader and Socialist Eugene V. Debs once characterized as the “Christ-like virtue of sympathy” among workers. Class unity expressed in sympathy and solidarity strikes that extend beyond narrow occupational categories and specific union organizations is the indispensable element in building and sustaining a strong working-class movement. And we are starting to see the first expressions of labor solidarity emerge in local struggles by low-wage workers who are fighting for better wages and working-conditions.

A recent Labor Press article reports that a group of rank-and-file fast-food and airport workers expressed their solidarity with striking Brooklyn “car washeros” by joining their picket line. “What we are doing here today is supporting car wash workers,” said one of the demonstration organizers, “but we have all kinds of workers here, from airport workers to fast food workers, and there are going to be many more activities coming up where worker solidarity between different unions is going to be the whole idea.” New York City Central Labor Council President Vinnie Alvarez summarized the critical importance of such collective actions: “We stand in solidarity with you in the fight for rights on the job, for benefits, and for the protections that each and every one of you deserves.”

Dr. Steve Brier is a Murphy Institute Consortial Faculty Member and Prof. of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Photo by USW Local 8599 via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).

Barbara Smith Event – Livestream

The Murphy Institute invites you to a forum
cosponsored with 1199SEIU & Cornell University’s Worker Institute:

The Barbara Smith Identity Politics event will be livestreamed on this page. The video will be below this line – starting Friday morning at 9.30am. Until then, please help us spread the about this important event!

Identity Politics: A Foundation for Coalition Building

Barbara Smith argues that “identity politics” rather than presenting an obstacle to forming coalitions for social and economic justice – offer an essential foundation for such coalitions. Drawing on forty years of work with civil rights, feminist, LGBTQ and other movements, Smith’s new book, Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, edited by Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, poses an urgent set of related questions that she and forum panelists will consider.

Barbara Smith
Black Feminist organizer and author
“Barbara Smith is one of the grand pioneering and prophetic voices of our time. Her truth still hurts and heals.” Cornell West

Joo-Hyun Kang
Director, Communities United for Police Reform

Gerry Hudson
Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU UHE will open the panel
Alethia Jones, 1199SEIU UHE Education Director will moderate.

Chirlane McCray, First Lady of New York
Will be joining us and offering remarks

Friday March 13, 2015
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

25 West 43rd St, 18th floor
Murphy Institute, SPS, CUNY

Light refreshments will be provided.
RSVP for event: https://foundation-for-coalition-building.eventbrite.com

Through the Lens of the Gentrified

On March 24, 2015, 6:00-7:30pm, join the Murphy Institute for Facing Gentrification: Reclaiming Communities by Exercising Political Power.

Panelists will examine ways in which neighborhood residents can develop political influence and strategic alliances to enable them help shape affordable housing initiatives that will not end up displacing the very people they are meant to serve. Labor Studies graduate candidate and student panel co-organizer Tony Moran discusses the documentary “El Barrio Tours” by Andrew J. Padillo, one of the speakers at this event.

By Tony Moran

When I hear the name “El Barrio,” what comes to mind is community, camaraderie, food and the arts, a place where East Harlem and Puerto Rico merged and from this intersection, many notable greats. They include Latin legend musician Tito Puente, poet Julia de Burgos and singer Marc Anthony. “El Barrio” has been called home by many throughout its history; it prides itself of preserving that enriching identity of integration and resiliency.

El Barrio is also home to Andrew J. Padilla, a Puerto Rican filmmaker, photographer and activist born and raised in East Harlem. I first met Andrew on May 14, 2013, at the presentation of his documentary El Barrio Tours. In El Barrio Tours, Padilla highlights the economic duress that urban policies and gentrification have put on his community. This filmmaker has a passion for social justice, and his defense of the working class is ever-evident in his film. His film educated me about gentrification, and contextualized what many neighborhoods are going through. Continue reading Through the Lens of the Gentrified

News Round-Up

One step closer to Right-to-Work in Wisconsin, ACA comes before the Supreme Court once more, the Feds release a report on policing in Ferguson, and more…

Photo by Tabitha Kaylee Hawk via flickr (CC-BY-NC-ND).

Remembering Philip Levine

By Samina Shahidi

Philip Levine wrote unflinchingly and with nuanced craft about American working class life. Levine died on Saturday, February 14th, at the age of 87. Hear him talk about and recite his poem, “They Feed the Lion” at the National Endowment for the Arts website.

Read more on this elder and former Poet Laureate of American poetry, and his influence on poetry readers in this discussion in The New York Times.  Levine’s work is known especially to our nation’s working class and immigrant writers who engage questions of labor, relationships and social justice.

Poet Mark Levine’s (no relation) recalls studying writing with Philip Levine as a college student in the essay, “How Difficult it is to Live.”

Poetry Foundation has an illuminating overview of Levine’s work, themes and affinities.

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

css.php
Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message
Skip to toolbar