The Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For

Commentary to come…. 

by Sandy Perry

My people’s suffering
pierced me, entangled
my soul like barbed wire:
gripped my heart:
I went to cry out at the crossroads,
I went out to weep, enveloped in mist,
I touched the doors and they wounded me
like sharp-pointed knives,
I called out to the impassive faces
that I adored before like stars,
and they showed me their void.
— Pablo Neruda


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Reflection on “Poor People’s Movements” and Review on Piven’s Latest: “Challenging Authority”

“Poor People’e Movements; Why They Succeedd and How They Fail” By Piven and Cloward was an instant classic for me once I started to read it. A professor from my community college recommended it to me. The conversation began with me lamenting about a figure on our campus left who generally defiled radical activism and upheld the social-democratic electoral reform models of Pual Wellstone, GROW by USAS, and the one he ran at our college. He now sits on an education board in the East Bay.

 In our student organizing around the budget cuts and fee increases in the community college system, he always chided our efforts as unsystematic, unpragmatic and after a large march and protest of students in Sacramento he scolded us as leading the ‘booos’ against the politician who took the stage (we participated, but certainly did not lead- the feeling was widespread). Being unsystematic, unpragmatic had nothing to do with it. We had an eight month campaing timeline we were following, organized the student government to hire one of our former members as a paid organizer (unprecedented in to my knowledge) and with buses and carpool brought nearly 500 students to Sacramento the week before finals, among a number of accomplishments leading up to that.

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