Salem's Racial Justice Organizing Committee (RJOC) sponsored a talk by Jo Ann Hardesty this evening. Jo Ann brought to the room her knowledge and enthusiasm, an incredible ability to engage and the wisdom she has gained as a State Representative, civil rights leader, activist, trainer and KBOO talk show host. Everyone in the room was moved by her and bywhat she had to say. The Q. & A. session she led, which used The Movement For Black Lives Platform as her point of departure, could have lasted hours longer.
I found her comments on schools and the justice system most instructive. She could lay out exactly how it is that poor people get stuck in the (in)justice system in an easy-to-understand way and how we now have a systyem designed to trap and hold poor people. She also made several prescient comments on the differences between the Portland and Salem school systems and encouraged people to take on the upside-down school disciplinary system here. Along the way she made a special outreach to the many young people in the room, spoke to the need for a fight around LGBTQIA rights and spoke frankly about the ways in which the upcoming Portland womens' march was depoliticized early on (this was later corrected) and the need to recognize and take on the special oppression experienced by women of color.
We hope that Jo Ann will return in April to address climate and ecological crises. If you missed her tonight, you missed a great event and an opportunity to learn.
Tonight's RJOC meeting was the first step in putting together a study group around The Movement For Black Lives Platform. We want to strongly encourage folks in the Salem area to join RJOC and study the Platform together. Readers can most easily connect with RJOC on Facebook.