Sunday, July 31, 2011

From Atlanta to LA

On Saturday July 16th I had the pleasure of traveling to AFSC's LA office to participate in an entitled, "Migrant Youth Voices;From Atlanta to LA. Several short film's chronicling the stories of struggle from migrant youth in Atlanta and LA were shown. I was on hand to discuss the state of anti-immigration legislation HB87 and talk about how folks in Cali could support the struggle to defeat the racist anti-immigrant law.

Several Georgia Youth from AFSC's Migrant Youth Voice Project will be joined the discussion via Skype. During the skype session several undocumented youth in LA, along with their parents, made a point to have face time with folks in Georgia via skype. I wasn't the only one in the room with a lump in my throat and a few tears in my eyes. Truly a lovely evening.

Big thanks to Crystal Gonzales and Anthony Marsh for organizing the event.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

‘Nonviolence in Action’ Peaceful Opposition to Anti-Immigration Efforts

The King Center's inaugural “Nonviolence in Action” event focused on the the hot topic of immigration reform.The event facilitated a dialogue with several organizations, including American Friends Service Committee, using nonviolence to further the cause of fair and equitable treatment of immigrants in Georgia.

Civil Rights veteran and former AFSC staff Constance Curry moderated a panel discussion with several courageous undocumented youth who had recently risked deportation in their efforts to demand fair and just pathways to citizenship. AFSC's own Josie Figueroa was also on the panel discussing our migrant youth voice project.

The theme of the evening
seemed to be the obvious connections between the civil rights movement of the 60's, and the present day fight for immigrant rights. Constance Curry seemed to reiterate that point throughout the evening and spoke of intense feelings of nostalgia when she experienced young undocumented Georgians in the street chanting proudly, "undocumented, Unafraid". The fearlessness of their recent actions parallel the fearlessness of young freedom riders of the sixties.

AFSC was proud to play a role in planning the event and we look forward to future collaborations with the King Center.

Big ups to Dejah Ault for staffing the AFSC table so well!!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be The Change Youth Convergence 2011

Be The Change 2011 is this upcoming weekend! July 29-31 at the Horizons School.
Please join us in helping to empower the next generation of community youth activists and leaders!

How can you get involved?
If you're 13-24 years old, register here and take part in the awesome skill-building and action packed weekend!

Click the image below to view a schedule for the weekend.

Any age and want to volunteer or contribute in any way?
Check out our volunteer needs page and sign up! Then, join us this Wednesday @ 9pm for our final planning meeting!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Day At The Boys & Girls Club!

We're in the final push to outreach to Georgia youth for our 3rd annual,"Be The Change" youth convergence so it's an understatement to say we were excited to be invited to facilitate workshops at multiple Boy's & Girl's Clubs in Atlanta. It was a special experience for me as the Boys & Girls Club was a refuge for me when I was a youngster.

Several of us got together over the past week and developed a new, more interactive, "Be The Change" workshop designed explore Martin Luther Kings legacy, specifically the last year of his life, the beyond Vietnam speech, poor peoples campaign, and the events surrounding Dr. King's murder. The workshop effectively uses discussions sparked by the explorations of Dr.King's often untaught legacy to ask questions about the modern relevance of Dr. King's political analysis, and perhaps more importantly, how can we grasp the tools that enable us to pick up where King and other social justice leaders have left of, how can we create the change that we want in our communities?

In what ways do the giant triplets of evil(poverty, racism, and militarism), as King called them in his landmark, "Beyond Vietnam" speech, control our minds, bodies, and communities? How do these systems of violence and oppression interact and support each other?

Youth participants, many of whom where as young as thirteen years old, took time to break into groups and discuss they ways in which they see racism, poverty, and militarism effecting their lives and communities. Participants also spent time imagining the communities that they would like to life in, how would they be different, what would they change.

Lastly, after talking about local changes students would like to see in their communities, we gave a pitch for this years "Be The Change" Youth Convergence which is being held in Atlanta July 29-31.

We ended up registering fifteen more folks for the conference! We're super excited to be able to facilitate another workshop at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club next Tuesday!!

Here's one of the video clips that we showed to help youth understand other somewhat untaught aspects of Dr. Kings legacy:

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Monday, July 11, 2011

Immigrant Youth Come Together

Migrant Youth Voice is an ongoing video project to raise the voices of immigrant youth and share their stories of struggle and strength. On Thursday evening, a group of students who have been involved in the past or wanted to begin to be involved came together to share their stories. This diverse group shared their stories with one another as well as expressed gratitude to be able to hear the stories of others and connect with young people who are facing a lot of the same challenges.
During this gathering we had a special artist come in to help Migrant Youth Voice participants begin to plan a mural. The group brainstormed ideas on what kind of message a mural around immigration should send. The youth had creative ideas of incorporating history as well as latino, asian, native american and african cultural symbols. They came up with some really great image ideas that the artist as well as some artistic students will put together. The students were really excited to be a part of the mural project and cant wait to get their friends involved. Some youth even made plans to record their stories for the project!
The group also left with original pieces of art that they all promised to display proudly!

For more information on Migrant Youth Voice or to participate in recording a story. Please email

Josie Figueroa
American Friends Service Committee

Ryan Harvey Plays Atlanta!

Yesterday Ryan Harvey's, "Ordinary Heroes" tour rolled through Atlanta. AFSC Atlanta was super excited to support the show and have an information table set up. The show was at Wonderroot Community Art Center and drew a pretty solid crowd of young folks.

It wasn't my first Ryan Harvey show, so it was definitely no surprise to see how captivated the crowd was by Ryan's ability to tell a stories with strong, astute political analysis, while rocking a distinguished vocal flow. I've come to really enjoy watching folks react to Ryan's music for the first time.

Often art can cut through someone's apathy to help them not only understand an issue that seems complicated, but also believe that they can create the change they want to see in the world or their communities; Ryan's music seems to have that effect on folks, it often forces those in the audience to change up their lens a bit.

During his set Ryan went out of his way to encourage folks to attend this year's, "Be The Change" youth convergence , which is being held July 29-31 in Atlanta. We had information on other projects to we gave out to attendees and we also had homemade posters on hand for donation, with all the proceeds going to "Be The Change" scholarships. Ryan also mention a project that he co-founded called Civilian Soldier Alliance , an organization that supports resistance to war and occupation with in the ranks of the military.

We will be adding some video footage in the next two days, so come back and check it out!

...and here's that promised footage!

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Saturday, July 2, 2011

THOUSANDS March To Resist HB87

Today Thousands of Georgians filled the streets of Atlanta to unite their voices against HB87, the anti-immigration bill that went into effect yesterday.

I've done organizing work in Georgia for ten years. I've been a part of small actions and big ones in every pocket of the state. Today was by far the largest mobilization I've seen anywhere in Georgia, ever. There was over twenty blocks of people marching, some say over 20,000 people, despite the blazing heat. I could be wrong but I believe that today was the largest political mobilization in Georgia in the last few decades.

The number of folks, and the energy they brought(which was palpable), should send a clear message to Georgia politicians. Not only can Georgia's economy not afford HB87 or bills like it, Georgia's people will not tolerate legislated racism and xenophobia.

With references to Martin Luther King throughout the march, and many civil rights leaders on hand to lend their strong support to the movement, it's also clear that many view bills like HB87 as a sad step back towards the darker parts of Georgia's history.

While parts of HB87 have been temporarily block by a federal Judge(as a result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Georgia and the National Immigration Law Center), it's clear that the fight against HB87 is not over.

One silver lining that some see as a result of bills like HB87 is the galvanization of immigrants across the country. One result that blatantly racist bill's like HB87 could bring is real immigration reform on a national level. I believe a train has begun rolling through communities all over America and it's inevitably won't stop until we have fair and just pathways to citizenship for everyone that call the United States home. We all have a right to exist.

AFSC Atlanta and our Migrant Youth Voice project was proud to be there and support The Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Right's(GLAHR) mobilizing efforts. We gave out hundreds of our new immigration reform placards.

Photo Credits:
Caitie Elle
Josie Figueroa

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee

Friday, July 1, 2011

Be The Change Edgewood Farm Crew!

Today we had the pleasure of spending an hour of so doing our "Be The Change" presentation to a group of youth who are no strangers the concept of being the change they want to see in their communities, the Edgewood Farm Crew. The crew's made up of about 15-20 youth age 14-21.

The manage a pretty extensive organic community garden which provides rich educational experiences to the community, youth leadership development, and delicious organic produce to folks that need it most. I gotta say, we were impressed.

The "Be The Change" presentation is something we put together specifically for classroom presentations. The presentation's focus is Dr. King's message and work in the last year of his life. The presentation also focuses on the modern relevancy of radical work in the late sixties.

In what ways do the giant triplets of evil(poverty, racism, and militarism), as King called them, control our minds, bodies, and communities? How do these systems of violence and oppression interact and support each other? How is Dr. King's message relevant today? What are issues he might be working on if he were alive today?

Students identified food justice, or access to food for low income folks as an issue they felt needed to be addressed. Racial profiling and police brutality was also a concern.

Lastly, after talking about local changes students would like to see in their communities, we gave a pitch for this years "Be The Change" youth convergence which is being held in Atlanta July 29-31.

Tim Franzen
American Friends Service Committee