By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
10.15.15: National– (Politics): Four years ago yesterday, I ran into a small group of students and their teacher at the Occupy Philly encampment in Center City Philadelphia.
Three girls and one boy from Constitution High School, supervised by their teacher, Mr. Carl Ackerman, explored the exterior ground of City Hall – which had been overtaken by tents and their inhabitants, who were protesting income inequality and corporate greed, among many things – and interviewed those individuals they encountered.
Throughout Occupy Philly’s run in Center City Philadelphia, Mr. Ackerman and his students were the only pupils and instructors I saw immersed in the encampment doing social inquiries.
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And since then, though I’ve seen students engage in activism around the City – last Thursday, on the one year anniversary of a student boycott in response to the bureaucracy’s decision to cancel their contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, young people again engaged in civil disobedience and took to the streets – it’s rare that I see educators guide the young minds entrusted into their care through activism and politics for the purpose of social inquiry.
Earlier this year, I did witness several private and charter schools in the City come together to stage a protest march from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to City Hall, where Mr. Charles Ramsey, the famed police commissioner who yesterday announced he’ll retire on January 7th, 2016, was waiting in City Council chambers for a Q&A session, where students inquired whether cops were paid extra for arrests; why there weren’t more PAL centers for youth to interact with law enforcement; and when stop and frisk would be repealed.
Students not only asked pointed questions of a government official, but, like in the case of Mr. Ackerman and his pupils, young people were able to reflect on what they saw and heard with a trusted guardian, which is one of the main value adds of guided social inquiry into activism and politics.
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In the 21st Century, and particularly in the present-day, where a new type civil rights movement has emerged, protests that disrupt traffic, events and business as usual will increase in frequency, thus making it more probable that young people will be exposed it through media, first-person witness or word-of-mouth, which is even more reason why they need fair and balanced context to what they’re viewing.
Yesterday, in Baltimore, activists disrupted the confirmation hearing for the interim police commissioner at City Hall, arrests were made.
Two days ago, in Philadelphia, protesters disrupted an event where Mr. Ramsey was being interviewed on stage at the Nation Constitution Center.
Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of individuals ascended on the nation’s capital for a #JusticeOrElse rally, commemorating the 20th anniversary of historic Million Man March.
The climate of the present-day in America is one that’s producing great social and racial tension, outrage and uprisings, which shouldn’t be demonized or ignored by the public or media at large, but rather engaged for the purpose of learning, cultural understanding and developing wide-spread empathy that’ll result in allies who can help bolster the idea of justice for all.
* Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening at 6:30pm to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
About Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
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