Apr 24, 2022
This is part 1 of a 2 part conversation with the editors and contributors to a book called How We Stay Free: Notes on a Black Uprising. This book is edited by Christopher R. Rogers, Fajr Muhammad and the Paul Robeson House & Museum and is a great testament to the local dimensions of the Black uprising in Philadelphia in the months after the murder of George Floyd.
In this conversation Chris and Fajr introduce themselves and talk about the book and its contents and authors, which include many important activists and organizers here in Philadelphia. After that, we talk to organizers Sterling Johnson and Wiley Cunningham from Philadelphia Housing Action. They talk about the monumental housing struggles in Philadelphia during 2020, giving credit to their fellow housing activist Jennifer Bennetch, who passed away just recently at only 36 years old.
They talk about many aspects of this complicated struggle which included a squatting movement as well as multiple encampments and complex negotiations with both Philadelphia Housing Authority and the City of Philadelphia. Although they offer understandable caution with regard to what they actually won, this struggle was historic in its scale as well as in the agreements that were leveraged through direct action. It is a struggle that warrants deeper examination by housing activists in Philadelphia and around the world, as the forces of capitalism continue to dispossess the most vulnerable.
At the end of the discussion Chris brings in a note on one of the big housing campaigns currently underway in Philly, the struggle to Save the UC Townhomes, a public housing facility that the owner is attempting to sell, a move that will cause dozens of Black families to be evicted by July 22nd if it cannot be stopped through organization and direct action.
You can buy How We Stay Free, and possibly get a solidarity copy for a student, elder, organizer or political prisoner.
And if you like what we do, we’re still trying to get our patreon back where it was a few months ago. We’re only down about $20 this month as we release this episode, so if a few of you can commit to $1 a month or more, or a small yearly pledge, we should be able to make that up.