In the 1960s the Black Panther Party for Self Defense joined with the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the poor White Young Patriots Organization in the Original Rainbow Coalition (pre-Jessie Jackson). The model of "organize your own but fight together" was an attempt to build broad unity in dispossessed communities while dealing with the realities of racialized capitalism head-on. Come join a discussion of this history and what its going to take to keep the 99% together for the long-haul. Panel discussion will include a slideshow of the art of the Rainbow Coalitions. On the panel: Pam Tau Lee (member of I Wor Kuen), Joe Navarro (Los Siete De La Raza Defense Committee), Killu Nyasha (Black Panther Party) and Amy Sonnie and James Tracy (co-authors of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times)
Pam Tau Lee, a former member of I Wor Kuen, puts her activism at the forefront of her work. She grew up in a diverse environment in San Francisco. Moreover, she was immersed in the free speech, anti-war, union, and black power movements – all of which influenced her greatly. Her parents, John and Mignon, taught Lee and her younger sister the value of hard work. Her mother was first employed as a draftswoman during World War II when women were needed for the war effort; she retired from the California state unemployment office. Her father began work in a storage room in an engineering plant in the 1940s, and by the time he retired, he was employed as an engineer. Lee graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1969 from California State University, Hayward (now California State University,
East Bay). She began work as a student teacher in inner-city Oakland schools with the Teacher Corps – a federally funded program begun in the 1960s to increase employment in underserved public school districts. As her awareness of the issues facing low-income communities grew, Lee began work as a community organizer. “There was so much activism then…” she says, “I became involved in the student and community movements.” In the 1970s, she worked for the Chinese Progressive Organization, in the days “before there were [many] non-profit social justice organizations. We were housed in the International Hotel and funded by members in the community, so it was as if I was part of a collective,” she says.
Chicano poet Joe Navarro is a literary vato loco, teacher, creative writer, husband, father and grandfather. Joe integrates his poetic voice with life's experiences, and blends culture with politics. His poetic influences include the Beat Poets, The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, Alurista, Gloria Anzaldua, Lalo Delgado and numerous others. Joe has performed his poetry throughout the nation in coffeeshops, community centers and universities. He has authored seven chapbooks of poetry and is available for presentations and workshops. His poetry can also be found in two poetry anthologies: Remembering: An anthology of poems read at Willow Glen Books and La Lunada: An anthology celebrating sixty full moons of spoken word poetry at Galeria de la Raza.
Kiilu Nyasha is a San Francisco-based journalist and former member of the Black Panther Party. Through the end of 2009, Kiilu hosted a weekly TV program, "Freedom Is A Constant Struggle," on SF Live, and many shows are archived here. Kiilu also writes for many publications, including the SF Bay View Newspaper and Black Commentator. Also an
accomplished radio programmer, she has worked for KPFA (Berkeley), SF Liberation Radio, Free Radio Berkeley, and KPOO in SF. Kiilu can be contacted via email: Kiilu2 [at] sbcglobal.net