Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grace Lee Boggs: change after Obama's victory

In the article below published in The Michigan Citizen, activist Grace Lee Boggs comments on Obama's victory in the race for the presidency. She argues that the next step in 'living for change' must be, amongst others, to re-examine the Fordist - model in schooling by taking for example the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit as a best case scenario for a more applicable form of education in the city.

Where Do We Go From Here?
By Grace Lee Boggs
Michigan Citizen, Nov. 16-22, 2008

It was block by block, from the ground up, community organizing. which won the White House for Barach Obama. Inspired by his eloquence and audacity, his commitment to change we can believe in, and his faith in himself and in human possibilities, determined to leave behind us the shameful legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, the Iraq war and the other atrocities of the Bush- Cheney regime, and to begin healing and redeeming our country and ourselves, tens of thousands of Americans, of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and faiths, members of unions, churches, synagogues, peace, women’s and other community groups, discovered in them/ourselves the energy that comes from renewed hope and commitment to a just cause. So, especially after the Democratic convention. we/they went door to door, block by block, in neighborhoods all over the country, persuading strangers and folks who had never voted or who had lost faith in voting, to vote for Obama. It was a great feat, worth celebrating.

Where do we/they go from here? Some people will use the experience to advance their own careers. Others will be content with Obama’s closing down Guantanamo and undoing similar Bush- Cheney abuses. Still others, outraged at Obama’s appointments of pro-Israel zealots, rightwing Democrats and economic heavyweights whose only concern is growing the economy, will organize protest demonstrations, trying to push Obama to the Left. Or they will regret that they did not vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney

I will not be among them. I think that Obama has already done our country a great service by encouraging tens and hundreds of millions all over the world to believe that America can change and that together we can change it. I do not delude myself that despite Obama’s formidable multi-tasking skills, he will be able, in the Oval Office, as commander in chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, struggling to extricate this country from two unwinnable wars which have become occupations, saddled with a trillion dollar deficit, and needing to court both Republicans and Democrats even for modest health care legislation that will not make us more healthy but only make heath insurance more available, to initiate the profound changes in our values, in how we live, how we make our livings and how we educate our children, that are urgently needed at this milestone in our evolution when we are in the midst of a cultural transition as far-reaching as that from hunting and gathering to agriculture eleven thousand years ago and from agriculture to induntung ustry three hundred years ago.

Changes of this magnitude cannot come from the top down, only from the ground up. .
And that is where they are coming from. All over the country citizens from all walks of life, parents, teachers, administrators, recognizing that our Fordist model of schooling is the main cause for school dropouts and expanding prisons, are exploring new ways of educating our children that involve their hands and hearts and engage them in community-building. One outstanding example is the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit where caring for small animals and planting community gardens is part of the science curriculum for teenage mothers .

In Milwaukee former basketball player Will Allen has founded Growing Power, an urban farm that not only grows produce for thousands of city-dwellers but helps communities grow their own gardens in order to bring the neighbor back into the ‘hood.

"We have to go back to when people shared things and start taking care of each other. That's the only way we will survive. What better way to do it than with food?" said Will as he was honored with a 2008 MacArthur Genius Award.

All over the United States the local foods movement is helping Americans cope with spiraling food prices, at the same time slowing down global warming and making us healthier because we are not importing adulterated foods grown on factory farms and transported thousands of miles in gas-guzzling trucks.

In neighborhoods all over the country the economic meltdown is forcing people to rethink the waste of suburban living and SUVs and the cost of shopping at malls rather than neighborhood stores. So this Thanksgiving people will be swapping stories of an older generation whose hands were more calloused but who cared not only for themselves but each other.

At the end of 1966, four months before his anti-Vietnam war speech, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Where do we go from here: Community or Chaos” in which he called for a radical revolution of values against the giant triplet of racism, materialism and militarism. It would be fitting if on January 20 as we celebrate Barach Obama’s inauguration we also commemorate MLK’s 80th birthday by holding teach-ins on this little pamphlet.

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