Monthly Archives: May 2014

Freedom School Class – Thursday, May 29 – The Zapatistas: Rebellion and Indigenous Resistance in Mexico



Join us for class this week as we discuss the Zapatista uprising in Mexico. A Filipino dinner will be served at 6:00pm and class will run from 6:30-8:00pm.

On January 1, 1994 an indigenous rebellion in Chiapas, Mexico took the world by storm. Indigenous Mayans chose the date as the rebellion because it coincided with the day that the trade agreement known as NAFTA was enacted into law in Mexico, the US, and Canada. NAFTA had a disastrous impact on indigenous people, the poor, and the working class in North America. The rebels called themselves Zapatistas after the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The Zapatistas created a new political system that built grassroots power of indigenous people, peasants, women, and other oppressed people. Their influence on social movements and politics forever changed Chiapas and Mexico and also shaped the alter-globalization and global justice movements. Zapatismo is the set of politics and practice advocated by the Zapatistas which is a combination of Mayan indigenous beliefs, anarchism, and Marxism. It advocates decentralized politics, building grassroots power without seizing state power, participatory democracy, autonomy, liberty, mutual aid, cooperation and dignity. A common saying of the Zapatistas is, “Para todos todo, para nosotros nada” (everything for everyone, nothing for ourselves), which is reflective of their selflessness and vision for a very different world. We will discuss the history of the Zapatistas, social movements in Mexico, and how the Zapatistas have influenced alternative politics around the world. We will also look at the Zapatistas’ ideology, political structures, alternatives, and views on leadership.


Freedom School Class – Thursday, May 22 – Environmental Science, Climate Change, Environmental Justice



A visiting scientist from Chicago will be leading discussion during class this week on climate change, environmental science, and environmental justice. While there is still “debate” over climate change and whether or not it exists amongst US politicians and in the mainstream media, there is virtual unanimous agreement within the scientific community that it exists, has been caused by human activity, and is accelerating rapidly. Meghan Dunn is an atmospheric chemist and environmental scientist who works to help solve this growing environmental catastrophe. We will have a discussion on the background of climate change and the science surrounding it. We will also discuss a more relevant debate – whether or not it is too late for humans to turn the tide of climate change. We will look into some environmental issues that impact Utica and the Mohawk Valley such as lead exposure, hyrdrofracking, and Canadian Tar Sands and the oil industry. As always, we will look to find solutions to these problem and see what organizations and social movements are doing about it.

As always, dinner will be served at 6:00pm and class will be from 6:30 – 8:00pm.

No Class Today at the Freedom School – May 15



There will be no class today, but have no fear – Freedom School classes will resume next week with a discussion on environmental science, climate change, and environmental justice. A scientist will be visiting from Chicago and will be teaching the class. We also have some other exciting events coming up, including more classes in May and June, a public debate on poverty and social mobility, summer classes, the summer Freedom School, field trips, and much more!

See you next week and keep on standing up for justice!

Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Event: Today, May 4



Kickoff of State-Wide Justice for Dairy Farmworkers Speakers Tour    

When:  Sunday, May 7-9 p.m.

Where:  At the Freedom School – Cornerstone Community Church, 500 Plant Street, Utica (Oneida Square)

Event description:
An immigrant farmworker who has worked on Upstate dairy farms and an organizer for a local workers’ center will speak at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 4 as part of a statewide speaking tour aimed at improving the lives of immigrant farmworkers. The talk and a brief slideshow will be given by Jose Canas, who is originally from El Salvador, and Rebecca Fuentes, of West Monroe, who is lead organizer for the Syracuse-based Workers’ Center of Central New York.The local talk is free, but donations will be accepted to support the workers’ center. Light refreshments will be served.
Jose Cañas has a dream: empowerment and social justice for New York’s immigrant dairy farm workforce. His vision stems from three years of exposure to physical and emotional abuses as a New York dairy farmworker. He has experienced or witnessed wage theft, accidents and injuries due to employer negligence, nightly fevers due to indecent housing, and depression from social isolation. In solidarity with Jose, and the thousands of immigrant workers in the New York dairy industry, we have organized the NYS Justice for Dairy Farmworkers campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to advocate for and support dairy farmworkers in their struggle for basic labor and human rights.

What:  On Sunday, May 4, an 11-day-long statewide peaking tour will stop in Utica to draw attention to the plight of immigrant dairy farmworkers and to build support for the Justice for Dairy Farmworkers campaign. A presentation entitled “Dairy Farm Workers Organizing for Justice” will be given.

Who:  Workers Center of Central New York, Worker Justice Center of New York, Local co-sponsors include Central New York Citizens in Action, Inc., IWW, Mohawk Valley Freedom School, Occupy Utica, Workers Center of Central NY, Working Families Party, and MoveOn.   

Why:  The dairy industry is New Yorks leading agricultural sector and New York is a leading dairy producer in the nation. In fact, in 2012, New York became the countrys number one producer of yogurt. This boom in dairy production, however, has come at a significant cost to the workers whose labor has made it all possible. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there have been 55 fatalities on dairy farms in New York State since 2006.  Interviews will be available with the speakers.