Carrying it Forward at Left Forum 2014

[guest post by Amber Black, RFC Communications Director]

From indigenous artists using hip hop and digital media to fight colonization, to how the War on Terror is criminalizing entire communities; from the campaign for a $15/hour minimum wage, to the fight against solitary confinement and mass incarceration; and from “Antipsychiatry’s Challenge to the Left,” to revolutionary politics in Venezuela and Quebec, and scores of other topics, Left Forum 2014 was a thrumming beehive of discourse about progressive movements across the U.S. and around the globe.

In its tenth year, Left Forum 2014 brought over 6000 attendees to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, under the umbrella theme, “Reform and/or Revolution: Imagining a World with Transformative Justice.”  The three-day gathering offered over 400 panels and performances, scores of exhibitors, and a diverse line-up of headlining speakers including Immortal Technique, Chris Hedges, Kshama Sawant, Cornel West, Amy Goodman, RFC Advisory Board Members Angela Davis and Harry Belafonte, and others.

RFC staff attended Left Forum to show our CARRY IT FORWARD film that dramatizes the last four days of the lives of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and celebrates those who are working today for peace; civil liberties; climate justice; the rights of immigrants, workers, prisoners, members of the LGBTQ community and others whose lives are under threat; and other struggles from Idle No More to the fight to free political prisoners.  The screening room was full for the RFC presentation; attendees included both current RFC supporters and those who were learning of the Fund for the first time. At various points audience members brushed away tears, sang, and cheered as the stories of the Rosenbergs and present-day activist families unfolded.

Saturday evening’s plenary followed the RFC screening of CARRY IT FORWARD (which stars Angela Davis, Eve Ensler, members of the Rosenberg/Meeropol family, Rebel Diaz, Mike + Ruthy, Martín Espada, and other artists and activists). Harry Belafonte, Angela Davis, and Kshama Sawant (leader of Seattle’s successful $15/hour minimum wage effort) spoke in the college’s cavernous gymnasium to a crowd that filled the space and spilled into several overflow rooms. The commitment, energy and wisdom of these veteran activists who come from very different backgrounds and span several generations, formed the emotional and intellectual peak of the inspiring weekend.

Throughout the conference RFC staff crossed paths with parents whose children receive RFC grants presently, and encouraged others whose kids may qualify for our assistance (or youth who might be eligible themselves) to consider applying for aid.  We also renewed existing ties and made new connections with progressive organizers and groups from around the country, as we deepened the network that helps us provide support for the children of these resistance movements.  We look forward to continuing to building this community at other events in the future.

[To organize a screening of CARRY IT FORWARD in your community, contact Amber Black: amber@rfc.org or (413) 529-0063.]

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