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.”

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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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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.”

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Cold Ground Was My Bed: The Blues and Social Justice

A powerful torrent of “justice blues,” as deep and wide as the Mississippi itself, flows in an unbroken stream from the Depression-era blues of Bessie Smith and Skip James all the way to the 21st century blues of Otis Taylor and Robert Cray.

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Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

In “Hard Times Killing Floor Blues,” Skip James sings for the multitudes forced out of their homes and jobs — locked out of heaven itself and trapped on the killing floor of poverty.

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Jack London’s Iron Heel — from Oakland to Ankara

The “Citizen’s United” case signaled the collusion of government and business. The dominance of large corporations, the militarization of the police, and governmental surveillance of ordinary people are chilling harbingers of fascism. This is why The Iron Heel remains relevant today and resonates with people around the world.

Jack London’s Vision of Love and Revolution

“Civilizations have exposited themselves in terms of power,” wrote Jack London. “No civilization has yet exposited itself in terms of love-of-man.” He called for a world built on “love and service and brotherhood,” all of which inspired his great-granddaughter and her friends and comrades in the Iron Heel Theater Collective.

WRAP Fights to Protect the Right to Rest—and Exist

Today, homeless people are being targeted by attempts to literally banish their presence. But they weren’t the first targets of intolerance, and they won’t be the last. That realization makes it all the more crucial that we prevent political officials from ever again banishing or criminalizing any other unprotected minority, anywhere.

The Mississippi Delta: Birthplace of the Blues – “This Is Where the Soul of Man Never Dies.”

This is a story about how poverty, segregation and racial discrimination harm human beings. This is also a story about how beauty flowers from the fields of brutality. This is a story of the blues. “This is where the soul of man never dies,” as Sam Phillips said about Howlin’ Wolf.

St. Mary’s Center — Community in Action

This special section features stories published in Street Spirit that report on the crucial work of St. Mary’s Center in [...]

Songs of Social Justice

“It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.” Sam Cooke saw that change coming, and sang it, and wrote it down in indelible words for all of us to see. Nothing can ever erase his voice now. Nothing can stop that change from coming.