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I can’t find a transcription of this speech that is correct.  All of the versions available leave out critical bits of this speech.  They leave out the mention of spending too much on military bases instead of bases of genuine concern, etc.  A typical example of the attempt to de-radicalize the good Rev. King.   Listen to this in its entirety.

Shared by our friend Jeff DeLuca

I’ve gotten used to the drive between Chapel Hill, NC and Jupiter, FL. When I’m feeling awake, I split the 10-11 hour trek between an audiobook and tunes. Post-campaign life has left me more burned out than I could ever imagine, so blasting music was the only option today. Crossing the Florida border tells me I’m entering the last third of the trip, which tends to drag so I stopped off in Jacksonville for gas, coffee, and something slightly healthier to eat than the Bojangles I consumed in South Carolina earlier that morning.

I almost pulled into a Hess station until I noticed that the Valero next door was a full six cents/gallon cheaper. As I step up to the filling station, I notice quickly that I’m “across the lines”. (Jacksonville is still one of the most segregated cities in the country.) Feeling dirty for the racism and classism inherent in such uneasiness, I start filling my tank. It’s cloudy and there’s a mist in the air. There’s a white woman in a thin, worn but not ratty, black dress wandering around the lot. The dress was torn at the bottom like she’d been walking on it. It’s 60 degrees out, which is like 40 in North Carolina. She could have been 40 or 60 years old. I don’t know. But she’s shivering as she approaches my car from behind, her dress damp from the mist. Feebly but with an Oklahoma accent that could cut a prairie wind, she asks me: “Sir, I mean no disrespect at all…” I turn toward her, compelled by her humble request and a gut feeling that something was very immediately wrong about her situation. Then I saw the black spot under her right eye.

“My husband of seventeen years just up and left me with nothing but this”, she said as she lifted her dress and exposed her shoeless, cut-up feet. This is not a woman who lives outside.  I can’t imagine it had been more than 24 hours since the event. “I’m not even from here. I’m from Tulsa, Oklahoma and I have nowhere to go.” Shock is the not the word.

I fumbled around my car looking for change, until I remembered the cash I had in my pocket. I asked her if I could help her get in touch with a women’s shelter. She already had. The beds were all full. I wasn’t surprised, but heartbroken for her all over again. As I gave her my last six dollars she teared up and taking me in her arms she kissed me on the neck. She was so genuine about it. Some would victim blame and say she was probably a drug addict, an alcoholic, or a nutcase. None of those would change the fact that she was left for dead by the man she gave her life to. A man who had the power to leave her with nothing on the streets of Jacksonville, 1100 miles and a $211 Greyhound ticket from home, three days before Thanksgiving, and did. I wish I had been with it enough to hug her back the way I would have liked to. To talk to her for a minute and get a better sense of her story. She disappeared down the street before I could think of another course of action.

I went inside the Food Mart, still totally in shock, and got my coffee and banana before getting back on the road. I turned on Tracy Chapman’s self-titled first album so it wasn’t long before the tears came. (You should listen to “Why?” after reading this.) I wondered what the woman I just met would do and if I could have or should have tried to do more for her. I’ll never know her name. Nor she mine. I’ll never know if she made it back to Tulsa, or if that was even the goal. I don’t know where she’s sleeping tonight or if she has dry clothes. I know violence though. I certainly know men’s violence, as generations of it have steered my personal narrative in ways I’ve only recently become mature enough to understand.

I am wondering exactly how many women are in the same situation I saw today, maybe within blocks of that Valero. I’m thinking too about those women filling the beds of crisis centers and women’s shelters across America. (Congress still hasn’t renewed the Violence Against Women Act.) I’m thinking I couldn’t care less about rich white men and their wannabes who don’t want to pay for the resources necessary to help survivors of interpersonal violence. I’m thinking about my own privilege (white, male, cisgender, able-bodied, not impoverished) and how lucky I am to know I’m sleeping under a roof in a warm bed tonight. I’m thinking about the unknown power of our decisions, even the decision of one gas station over another, and the unanticipated renogation of perspectives through personal connection. But mostly, I’m wondering if she’s ok.

Seven months after nationwide actions against budget cuts and tuition hikes on March 4th, the National Day to Defend Public Education, the struggle continues. The economic crisis has resulted in the university’s crisis of priorities and the students are fighting back.

The Board of Trustees raised in-state tuition by 24% in the past year and they want to lift the cap on tuition increases, while over four thousand class sections have been cut since 2007.  Over 300 facilities workers have been laid off, yet nine levels of management supervision remain. Our situation at UNC-CH is just one example of downward trends across the country in public education.

Another day of national action has been planned for October 7th.

Women, and especially women of color, have historically been denied access to public education and continue to be marginalized in various academic departments, such as the Sciences.  UNC-CH undergraduate studies were desegregated in 1955, but the first African-American woman did not attend the university until 1963.

Academic departments focused on women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks feel the effects of budgets cuts disproportionately.  Centers that serve women and other oppressed groups such as the Women’s Center and the American Indian Center are the first to have their budget slashed when cuts are made. While at UNC-CH the “average” budget cut to the hardest-hit centers was 17%, the total cut for the Carolina Women’s Center was 25%.

Housekeepers, a workforce that is comprised overwhelmingly of women of color, continue to be fired and laid off, despite the fact that Bain and Co. found that UNC needs to hire more housekeepers.  The workers who remain take on an increased workload but receive no subsequent increase in pay, and administrators enact dehumanizing rules such as the no-sitting policies which infantalizes these workers and puts their health at risk all in the name of increased efficiency.

While housekeepers are paid the lowest salaries, administrators’ salaries continue to increase. Chancellor Thorp makes $420,000 per year (15 times that of the average housekeeper and 11 times that of the median North Carolina household income) and a committee of the UNC system’s governing board suggested that the new UNC system president Tom Ross — the eighth white man to assume the position — should make $550,000 a year, a 15% increase from Bowles’ salary.

As feminists, we will not stand idly by as sexism, heterosexism, racism and capitalism work to dismantle the public education that students fought hard to access and improve.  Join us on October 7th to defend public education at 3pm at the State Capitol building in Raleigh where we will rally and march with groups from across the state.

Despite the thousands who marched with the NAACP against the proposal to re-segregate the Wake County school system this past weekend, the protests led by Enloe High School students outside the school board meeting, and the fact Wake County has been recognized for the successes of its income-based schooling assignments, the school board voted 5-4 last night to re-segregate its schools.

The switch to neighborhood schooling assignments will manifest as a class and racial segregation, against the successes that the income-based assignments have created. Wake County’s SAT scores were on average, “58 points above the national average and 83 points above the state average.” When it comes to EOC proficiency, in 2008 the district scored 7.9% higher than the state.

For more information on Wake’s successes see this NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/25/education/25raleigh.html

Web editor of Carolina Parent, Odile Fredericks, summed up this push towards re-segregation by saying, “yesterday I realized what ‘neighborhood schools’ mean. They mean that children whose parents have less economic means will be clustered together at school. They mean that children will have less exposure to people who come from walks of life different than their own. They mean we parents are ultimately going to take care of our own children, and leave those less fortunate to their own resources.”

Arguments for re-segregating the schools included the fact that buses provide transportation for students to schools further away, and that parents, especially low-income, may have difficulties reaching the schools. Yet in a poll taken, an astounding 94% of people were happy with their school placement, no matter how far from their home it was.

It was made clear last night that it is not the low-income and families of color that were in support of the new school system. Parent Dawn Bartlett said, “I’m completely in favor of neighborhood and community schools. It will allow me to volunteer in a school that’s not 20 miles away.” Bartlett’s statement, accompanied by clusters of older white men dressed in suits with large red stickers reading “I support the new school system,” made it painfully clear who the new school system is meant to benefit.

The Wake County school system is the second largest in the state. Not only will this school board decision negatively affect children in this county, but it will set a precedent for the re-segregation of school systems around the state. Racism is different today than it was half a century ago. It is more discreet, disguised by terms like “forced busing” and “neighborhood schools.” Yet it is no less dangerous than the Jim Crow laws of America’s discriminatory past.

Thankfully the decision is not yet finalized. We cannot allow conservative reactionaries to undermine the progress that has been made.  Come out on Tuesday March 16th for the final vote and make it known, Wake County will not be re-segregated!

In solidarity,

Laurel and Lauren

For more information on this push towards re-segregation, see this NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/28raleigh.html

http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/03/03/367017/wake-ends-diversity-policy-in.html#gallerytop
http://www.raleighrelo.com/schools/schools.html
http://www.carolinaparent.com/Blogs/Blogs.php
http://www.greatschools.org/cgi-bin/nc/district-profile/171#eog_subgroup
Feminist Students United (FSU) is a progressive feminist organization which affirms that no form of oppression can be overcome until all aspects of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism are dismantled. We acknowledge intersecting identities and strive to be mindful of these intersections in all our work. We endeavor to create an environment which is non-hierarchical and supportive in nature, and we work to bring about change in our community through education, outreach, direct action and community organizing.

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