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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Workshop Panelist at Upcoming Conference on Democracy and Direct Action

by Efrén Paredes, Jr.

November 6-7, 2009 the Xicano Development Center will be hosting the Conference on Democracy and Direct Action. Day One of the conference will be held at East Lansing High School. Day Two of the conference will be held at Michigan State University.

I will be participating as a panelist of a workshop via phone on Nov. 7 along with other Xicana/o community leaders. We will be discussing my campaign for freedom, the anatomy of effective networking, and the value of Xicano prison programs.

People from across the nation will be presenting at the conference about a variety of important issues including the arts and activism, building solidarity across color lines, indigenous border issues, and other subjects.

The keynote speaker at the conference will be Ward Churchill. Churchill is a prolific American Indian scholar/activist, Ward Churchill is a founding member of the Rainbow Council of Elders, and longtime member of the leadership council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado.

Churchill has written over 20 books and is the former Chair of the University of Colorado/Boulder Ethnic Studies Department, where, until July 2007, he was a tenured Professor of American Indian Studies and where he received numerous awards for his teaching, scholarship and service. Professor Churchill is currently suing the University of Colorado for violating his First Amendment rights by firing him in retaliation for his observations on 9/11 and his exercise of his First Amendment-protected speech and in violation of the doctrine of Academic Freedom.

Also appearing at the conference will be New York Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz. Rebel Diaz came together at a critical moment in U.S. history. In early 2006, as Latinos throughout America found themselves under attack with anti-immigration laws, Rebel Diaz was in the streets of The Bronx, New York, organizing the community to fight against proposed racist legislation. Rebel Diaz performed in front of hundreds of thousands of people in massive protests from Chicago to Washington, D.C.

Using the power of hope and the struggles of the past as inspiration, these sons and daughters of revolutionaries express their wishes and demands for a just and compassionate world. In the streets of every ghetto across the world, one can hear the sound of people fed up with poverty and second-class citizenship. Rebel Diaz arises from these conditions to fan flames of change through songs that inspire, educate, and celebrate life.

I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience about the subjects I will be discussing, and using the opportunity to dispel some of the myths that exist about prisons and those who its walls hold captive. It will be a rewarding and transformative experience for all who attend and aspire to foster a liberating consciousness.