Archive | February, 2015

A Right Delayed Is a Right Denied

“We are here to let San Francisco know that we will resist these laws. We will resist any law that criminalizes the bare necessities of life activities and the basic existence of our people!”

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My Journey from San Francisco to Selma

Bishop James Pike of Grace Cathedral thundered from the steps of City Hall: “I’ve been there, and friends, we need more bodies down there, more bodies, and especially more white bodies.” In that instant, I knew I would go to Selma.

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The Martin Luther King We Didn’t Know

Sister Eva Lumas teaches the community at St. Mary’s Center about “The Martin We Didn’t Know.” Janny Castillo photo

Martin Luther King believed that the founding principles of the United States required the creation of what he called “the beloved community” — a society that is not driven by making profits, but one that was built by developing relationships of mutual concern and care.

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Oakland Celebrates the Radical Political Heritage of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During the Martin Luther King celebration this year, people in East Oakland’s African American and Latino neighborhoods made the connection between the radical politics of Dr. King and the Black Lives Matter movement in solidarity with the people of Ferguson and all those fighting for social justice.

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Why Selma Was a Crucial Turning Point for Democracy

Selmapolice.jpg Police in Selma, Alabama, wait for civil rights marchers as they cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Many former slave-holding states in the South blocked black citizens from voting by requiring literacy tests, exacting poll taxes, and using intimidation to exclude black voters. After one hundred years of struggle, the march in Selma culminated in the effort to overcome this injustice.

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Working Hard in America’s Twilight Economy

This hardworking couple pick up a huge amount of recycled material on their travels through the East Bay.

Jamie Dimond, the head of JPMorganChase, made over $9,000 an hour during the time his company committed numerous financial crimes, including stealing people’s homes and wrecking the economy. On a good day, Robert the gleaner, a Gulf War veteran who gets around on an old one-speed bike, makes about eight dollars.

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Poor Economy Leaves Millions of Children Needing Food Stamps

“The Children Are Starving.” Art by Kaethe Kollwitz, lithograph, 1924

With one in five children needing food stamps to survive, the recession is far from over, and the federal minimum wage needs to increase to become a living-wage. Instead, Democrats and Republicans are joining together for another attack on the safety net and Social Security, in the name of austerity.

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Rx for Shortened Lives, Ruined Health, Damaged Minds

Brain.jpg The serious side-effects of medications over a period of years or decades will often leave a person unable to work in a physical job.

The mental health system has a long history of subjecting mental health consumers to electroshock therapy and antipsychotic drugs that have extremely damaging long-term effects on the mind and body. Every few years, powerful new neuroleptic drugs are prescribed before the full range of their mind-damaging side effects are fully known.

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A New Wonder Drug for a Brave New World

The new psychiatric drug would alter the human mind and enable patients to be controlled. Art by MIRKO

The drug company knew about the undesirable side-effects but believed psychiatrists would prescribe the drug anyway, at least to those psychiatric clients who regularly made trouble. Enter Jonathan Baxter, who had gone off his medications several times and had been written up in his medical records as being uncooperative and argumentative.

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Writing for the Street Spirit: My 17 Year Journey

Writing for Street Spirit has awakened in me a sense of responsibility toward others. Street Spirit is a way for people silenced by big money and big media to have a voice.

Animal Friends: A Saving Grace for Homeless People

“I wrapped her in my jacket and promised I’d never let anybody hurt her again. And that’s my promise to her for the rest of her life. In my mind she’s a little angel that saved me as much as I saved her.”

A Testament to Street Spirit’s Justice Journalism

The game was rigged against the poor, but I will always relish the fact that Street Spirit took on the Oakland mayor and city council for their perverse assault on homeless recyclers. For me, that was hallowed ground. I will never regret the fact that we did not surrender that ground.

Tragic Death of Oakland Tenant Mary Jesus

Being evicted felt like the end of her life. As a disabled woman, she saw nothing ahead but a destitute life on the streets. She told a friend, “If I’m evicted tomorrow, I have no choice but to kill myself. I have no resources, no savings, no money, and nowhere to go.”

They Left Him to Die Like a Tramp on the Street

Life is sacred. It is not just an economic statistic when someone suffers and dies on the streets of our nation. It is some mother’s son, or daughter. It is a human being made in the image of God. It is a desecration of the sacred when that life is torn down.

Joy in the Midst of Sorrow in Santa Maria Orphanage

This amazing priest not only housed 300 orphaned children from the streets of Mexico City, but he also took care of 20 homeless elders in his own house and started a home for children dying of AIDS. Father Norman also ran a soup kitchen that fed many people in the village.