The Activist Files is a podcast by the Center for Constitutional Rights where we feature the stories of people on the front lines fighting for justice, including activists, lawyers, and artists. We interview movement partners, our clients, and people using storytelling to create change, and look to highlight lesser known aspects of the work. Listen to our latest episode here, or subscribe through your iPhone podcast app, or directly on iTunes or Spotify!
On the eleventh episode of The Activist Files, host Ian Head talks with writer and educator Walidah Imarisha and musician and teaching artist Gabriel Teodros about the relationship between fantastical writing and social justice work. As Walidah says, we are all doing science fiction when we imagine a different world. Science and visionary fiction, says Gabriel, is a useful tool for imagining a different future. When we do social justice work, we are so often reactive, so often fighting against something, it is easy to forget the importance of envisioning the world we want to see. Listen to this inspiring episode on how to imagine new futures, even while we fight against oppressive systems. Walidah is the co-editor of the collection 'Octavia's Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements,' published in 2015, to which Gabriel is a contributor. She is also the author of ‘Angels with Dirty Faces: Three Stories of Crime, Prison and Redemption,’ which won the Oregon Book Award in 2017. Gabriel has put out over ten albums, including his latest, ‘History Rhymes If It Doesn’t Repeat (A Southend Healing Ritual),’ and performed and taught in classrooms and stages around the world.
It’s a question our legal team gets asked all the time: What is it like visiting Guantánamo? From the food options on the island to why it’s important to keep fighting against the continued indefinite detention seventeen years on, our Gitmo attorneys Wells Dixon and Shayana Kadidal give the Activist Files an inside look into the notorious prison.
We’re finally over the mid-term hump, so The Activist Files checked in with organizers on the east and west coasts to find out how the results of the mid-terms will impact their organizing strategies. We asked six progressive organizers two questions: 1) Now that we’re beyond the mid-terms, share your reflections for how the results could impact the communities in which you organize, and 2) Thinking about the political climate we've been battling the last two years, what's next for you and the communities in which you organize? What's a priority? The organizers touched on subjects from comprehensive bail reform and voter suppression to the Safe and Supportive Schools Act and the effect public charge will have on education to militarism, the war, and lawmakers accepting contributions from defense contractors. Tune in to hear the organizers’ insightful views and thoughts for how moving forward they will advance their agenda.
The organizers are:
· Sharhonda Bossier, deputy director, Education Leaders of Color
· Andrea Colon, community engagement organizer, Rockaway Youth Taskforce
· Brittany DeBarros, co-director, Drop the MIC Campaign, About Face
· Jacinta Gonzalez, senior campaign organizer, Mijente
· Reggie Harris, deputy field director, Color of Change PAC
· Stanley Fritz, NYC campaign manager, Citizen Action of New York
On the eighth episode of The Activist Files, Center for Constitutional Rights Advocacy Program Manager Nahal Zamani speaks with S’bu Zikode, a founding member and president of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement in South Africa. S’bu is one of the leaders of Abahlali baseMjondolo, one of the largest peoples’ movements to emerge in post-apartheid South Africa. S’bu talks to Nahal about what is at stake, how the movement rises above violent repression, and what the U.S. can learn from South Africa in this political moment. Listen to one of the most inspiring activists we know and work with.
On the seventh episode of The Activist Files, your frequent host Senior Legal Worker Ian Head is joined by CCR Communications Director Chandra Hayslett to interview Jaribu Hill, a civil and human rights attorney and the Executive Director of Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights. Jaribu is also a former Ella Baker intern at CCR and former director of the CCR’s southern regional office. In the words of CCR Executive Director Vince Warren, if you have an activist, a lawyer, and a storyteller you can change the world—and Jaribu is all three. Listen to the interview to learn all she’s done and continues to do to change the world—from her early involvement with CCR as cultural artist, to her decision to practice law, to her current work using human rights framework to fight discrimination in housing, employment, and voting.
On the sixth episode of The Activist Files, CCR Senior Legal Worker Leah Todd talks to attorneys Beth Stephens and Judith Chomsky, who both formerly worked at CCR and continue to collaborate as cooperating counsel on key cases. Beth and Judith represent a group of indigenous Bolivians who brought their former president to trial in the United States for ordering a military massacre that killed their family members. Mamani, et al. v. Sánchez de Lozada, a case that has spanned over a decade, went to trial this past spring – representing the first time a former head of state faced trial in the United States for human rights violations. It resulted in an historic guilty and unanimous jury verdict against the former president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada. Stunningly, the judge subsequently overturned the jury verdict, and Beth and Judith are currently working with CCR to appeal. The story of Mamani is an inspiring example of what human rights litigation can achieve, and a demonstration of how, often, we must keep fighting, even after it seems we have won.
Participatory artist Lizania Cruz, whose most recent art projects focus on immigration, joins Chandra M. Hayslett, Center for Constitutional Rights’ communications director, on The Activist Files. Lizania, who was born in the Dominican Republic, is the Laundromat Project’s 2018 Create Change Artist. Her art shows up in the form of flowers and photography, storytelling and pop-up newsstands. Lizania takes the listener on a journey that examines the parallels in immigrants’ stories, Trump’s influence on her art, and economic justice for immigrants.
On Episode 4 of The Activist Files, CCR Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hussain sits down Molly Crabapple, a writer, artist, and activist whose work defies any traditional label. “I’ve never been so good at staying in boxes,” she starts out the interview. We talk about the intersection of art and activism, collaborations she’s undertaken in support of movements and communities impacted by war and government abuses, and what keeps her grounded, despite the online haters. Molly also shares her experience co-writing her new book, Brothers of the Gun: a Memoir of the Syrian War, with Syrian war journalist Marwan Hisham. WARNING: contains explicit language.
If you know CCR, you’re probably familiar with some of our groundbreaking cases. But who are the people working at the Center for Constitutional Rights? In the third episode of The Activist Files, we talked to our Bertha Justice fellows Stephanie Llanes, Britney Wilson, and Noor Zafar—three young radical lawyers who have worked with CCR for the past two years on cases challenging government misconduct, racial injustice, indefinite detention at Guantánamo, and Muslim profiling. They talk Cardi B, people they admire, and what brought them to social justice lawyering.
On Episode 2 of The Activist Files, CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pam Spees talks with Anne Rolfes, Founding Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Pastor Harry Joseph of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church. Rolfes and Joseph are helping to lead the fight to stop the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. As Anne introduces it in the episode, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline is Energy Transfer Partners’, the company that built the Dakota Access Pipeline, “latest bad idea.” CCR has filed public records requests and litigation in support of their efforts.
On our first episode, we talk with immigrant-rights activist Ravi Ragbir and his partner Amy Gottlieb, about not only their current organizing to stop Ravi’s deportation, but how they stay centered and support each other. Ravi is the Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition, and Amy is an Associate Regional Director for the American Friends Service Committee. Ravi has been fighting his own deportation order since 2006, and was recently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement following a regularly scheduled check-in. To find out more about what you can do to support Ravi and immigrant rights generally, please visit istandwithravi.org and newsanctuarynyc.org.