Blues for Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the despairing days after Dr. King’s death, the nation was overcome by the blues, so it was fitting that the pre-eminent blues band in the land would play for the activists in Resurrection City.

We’ll March on Resurrection Day

The final stanza is like a dream. Big Joe Williams looks down at Martin Luther King’s face, and vows to the slain civil rights leader that we’ll keep marching on — even unto Resurrection Day.

Recent News


Treasure Island or Toxic Island?

Treasure Island is not a recreation destination — it’s a radiation destination. Fifty years of Naval activity have contaminated it with a horrifying array of radioactive and chemical pollutants. Eight of the “dirty dozen” banned chemicals on the Stockholm Convention’s list of the most dangerous chemicals are found at Treasure Island.

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Abuse of Tenants at Notorious Slum Hotel in Oakland

“There is no heat. They do not allow tenants to use the elevator. The building has bed bugs, rats, and is loaded with flies from the garbage piled up at the property. Our toilet does not work, the shower barely drips, and the building lacks smoke detectors in most apartments.”

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Mission Residents Battle Gentrification from New Condo Development

At the first action against the condo development, Guillermina Castellanos, a mother who lives in the Mission, said: “This building they want to build, it won’t be for our families. It will be for another class of families that have money. We don’t have sufficient money to pay for these condominiums.”

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Sorrow in the Spring: Memories of Dr. King’s Memorial

As I write of the memorial services for Martin Luther King, Jr., we’re in a similar crisis today, as Ferguson, Missouri, joins the ranks of Memphis, Watts, Selma and far too many other locations where our nation’s racism has given us a shameful record of violations of human rights.

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Veterans Group Revives Thanksgiving Meal for Homeless in Santa Cruz

“We take care of our own but in Santa Cruz, ‘our own’ includes the entire community. This meal has always been about community and we will continue to keep this tradition of service to the homeless community alive as long as there is one vet to keep it going.”

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Missouri Grand Jury Shows Impact of Systemic Racism

Those who pay the cost of these policies are often young people of color – and with alarming frequency that cost is death at the hands of police. Ominously, police increasingly rely on militarized tactics and weapons not only to arrest but to contain people exercising their right to assemble and peacefully protest.

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December Poetry of the Spirit

This poet connects/ the one word “gather”/ with the Quaker faith/ as in geese gather/ at lake’s edge before/ the V-flight south,/ as in snowflakes gather,/ mounded on roof tops/ before the downward slide,/ as in two homeless men/ gather around a steam vent/ on a city sidewalk.

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The Death of S. F. Tenant Hero Ted Gullicksen

Ted Gullicksen was a true hero and will be remembered as such. Ted never sacrificed principle for money. This was the true source of his power. Since he could not be persuaded to act against tenants’ interests for money, power or access, he had an independence that increased his clout.

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St. Mary’s Center Honors the Lives of Those Living in Poverty

No one dreams as a child that they might become homeless, addicted, disabled, or jobless. It is critical that we change the way that we value people who may have less money and physical possessions by looking at the talents, strengths, and gifts that each soul has to bring to our world.

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The Broader Legacy of Ted Gullicksen

Ted was as much at home in the world of bolt cutters and illegal squats as he was at City Hall. He was that rare activist who had one foot in both worlds. Ted could spend one day lobbying supervisors, and the next occupying a vacant building as part of Homes Not Jails.

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Santa Cruz ‘Stay Away’ Law Banishes the Homeless

New stay-away law targets the poor, people of color and the unemployed. It is a not so thinly veiled effort to drive away “undesirables.” “This new law is designed to punish and exclude homeless people without the need to go to court and actually prove a crime,” said Robert Norse.

Music and Social Change

Street Spirit has always been committed to documenting and publishing the art and culture of poor and homeless people. We’re pleased to offer this series of articles on Blues and Social Justice as part of our continuing coverage of Music and Social Change. We’re also pleased to see that our “social justice news and homeless blues” reporting and commentary is now reaching an even broader audience via music-oriented publications featuring our articles. Street Spirit’s blues articles are now being published on two of the finest blues sites in Europe on Early Blues and the United States on BG: Blues and Music News .

Blues from the Streets of ‘The Other America’

J. B. Lenoir was one of the bravest political voices of his era. He sang against poverty, lynching, the Vietnam War, racism and police violence in Alabama and Mississippi.

Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground

Dark was the night and cold was the ground on which Blind Willie Johnson was laid. Yet after his death, his music would streak to the stars on the Voyager and become part of the “music of the spheres.”

How We Find Our Silenced Voices and Learn to Sing

This child who had been silenced went on to become a world-famous poet who won three Grammys and spoke six languages. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. She had an abounding love for everyone. She was asked by the United Nations to write a poem for the world.

Tenants Seek Fair Treatment at Berkeley’s Redwood Gardens

“I’ve been saying the seniors are the next civil rights movement because we are the largest growing segment of society,” said Eleanor Walden. “So housing for seniors, especially if it’s guaranteed by the federal government, is a good ‘investment.’ It’s not done for any humanitarian reasons. It’s a monetary cash cow.”