TRNN’s Eddie Conway interviews participants at the 2015 US Social Forum in Philadelphia
EDDIE CONWAY: Hi. I’m Eddie Conway from the Real News. I’m up in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, at Temple University at the Social Forum. There’s hundreds and hundreds of people gathered up here to talk about social issues across the United States of America and in other regions of the world. SPEAKER: I’m really here to learn more about our social justice movement. To connect with people, to learn about other struggles, other organizations, what they’re doing. And to really be inspired by this time in history to be in the movement for social justice. SPEAKER: It’s not every day that you find so many people that are not just on the left, but that are actually doing work that they care about, politically motivated to actually change a culture that’s defined more problematically than anything else. CONWAY: In attendance was Sandra Nurse, a climate change activist with the group Rising Tide. SANDRA NURSE: Well, I’m here because I’m interested in connecting with some other groups. And not just climate-related groups. I also do a lot of like, work with some of the emerging movements in New York around regional justice, and the movement for black lives. So I’m really wanting to understand how different groups are working with the backdrop of this emerging movement. So all the things that they’re working on, how is it relating to this very powerful moment. And also, as like,a woman of color, and like, black woman, it just, like–I want to see how people are relating to this. CONWAY: I helped to facilitate a discussion about challenging the prison-industrial complex, a topic I’m passionate about, especially because last year I was released from a 44-year stint in the Maryland State Penitentiary as a political prisoner. And so you had, like, a solution to America’s de-industrialization was to imprison its population. It increased with harsher sentences, three time losers, et cetera. SPEAKER: And so I think that the, the bottom line is the driving factor. Whether it’s to provide jobs in rural communities that would otherwise be in the very same situation as urban communities, there’s been a lot of resistance throughout this whole year. And there have been a lot of different ways that people are really talking about the role of police. I know for me, myself–and I want to talk about the resistance, and people [to say that] is that I think that people really focus on things like body cameras, and they want real solutions. So where do people really see this really, transformation this next year? SPEAKER: If we get into community, we can learn to [commute], to police ourselves by educating one another. Things to do, things not to do. CONWAY: The U.S. Social Forum was inspired by its mother organization, the World Social Forum, which met first in 2001 in Brazil. SPEAKER: The clamor of the participants at the World Social Forum is that there needs to be a U.S. Social Forum specifically to support the World Social Forum. Because most of the problems that the world is suffering from emanates from this country through the policies that the U.S. is adopting economically, politically, militarily, and ecologically speaking. SPEAKER: We basically took the position that if another world is possible, another America is necessary. CONWAY: Longtime reproductive and anti-racist activist Loretta [Rawls] says it’s also a space to create new ways to organize. SPEAKER: We spend all of our energy trying to get people to agree with us. The Social Forum says no, we need to spend our energy getting people to agree to be with us. Thinking many different thoughts. Thinking many different ways of approaching social change and being radically different in the world. So you find at the Social Forum there’s not a lot of effort, is built on [what to] think. We all must think the same thing in order to create social change. The only thing we need to think together is the need to work together. CONWAY: The 2016 Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein explains why it’s critical for grassroots to make radical, independent political demands. JILL STEIN: You keep voting for the lesser evil, and you don’t have an independent power base to challenge it, as Frederick Douglass said, power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will. By surrendering to the corporate parties who justify themselves as being lesser evil than the other one, we don’t establish the separate power base and a separate demand. And if you look at American history we used to have those third parties, and that’s when we made progress. CONWAY: For The Real News, this is Eddie Conway.
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