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17 Jul 2013

No More Zimmermans

Posted by dandydust. No Comments

Reflections from a Teacher, Uncle, and Activist

I’ve been an activist, organizer, and high school teacher who has thought about and worked on questions of race and justice for my entire adult life.  Because of that, I’ve seen some things that prepared me for the emotions that might come with the state’s sanctioning of the murder of Trayvon Martin.  Amadou Diallo shot at 41 times by 4 police who were “defending themselves” from a wallet.  Oscar Grant killed point blank while he lay on his stomach in a subway station.  Sean Bell’s murderers walk away with a badge.  Beyond these individual instances, I know that the history of this country is drenched in the blood and sweat of Black people.  And beyond this knowledge of history, I teach at a school that is nearly 100% Black and Latino, which means I both see and hear about the impacts of white supremacy on people that I love every day.  Daily, I try to help my kids navigate the reality of a white supremacy so pervasive and complex that, as in the case of George Zimmerman or the killers of Sean Bell, isn’t always even carried out by white people.   So unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the killing of Black boys anymore.
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17 Jul 2013

Educating Women

Posted by dandydust. No Comments

As a teacher, I spend eight hours a day with young people who are in the process of figuring out who they are.  As they grow, they absorb what their families, friends, leaders, and the media say about them, and these influences inform their beliefs about who they are and what they can become.

All weekend, I’ve been thinking about one person and what society has said about him, and I couldn’t imagine standing up here today without uttering Trayvon Martin’s name. See, what happened is that society has told us what Trayvon, as a Black boy, is and is not, what he can and cannot be, and Trayvon’s murderer and the jury believed that message.  I teach hundreds of kids like Trayvon every year and the message about themselves that this verdict sends them absolutely breaks my heart.

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18 Jun 2013

Why A Public School Teacher is Choosing to Get Arrested

Posted by dandydust. 25 Comments

Holly Speaks at Moral MondayToday, June 17, 2013, North Carolinians gathered for the seventh “Moral Monday” protest at the North Carolina Legislative Building.  Since late May, thousands have protested the General Assembly’s ultra-conservative agenda and over 450 people have been arrested as part of a growing wave of non-violent civil disobedience.  Holly Marie Jordan is a public school teacher from Durham who was arrested as part of today’s protest.  Her testimony is below:

As a public school teacher in North Carolina—not an “outsider” that Governer McCrory alleges is at the helm of the Moral Monday protests, but an educator grounded in and devoted to the community of Durham—I am ardent to stand up for the future of my students by getting arrested at Moral Monday.

When I came out of college straight into teaching seven years ago, I believed that teaching English was going to be about, well, teaching English.  I thought that my task was to impart in my students a love of, or at least a less fervent dislike for, Shakespeare and To Kill a Mockingbird.  Within a few short weeks I learned how mistaken I was.  Sure, there was still room for Boo and the Bard, but teaching was really about providing stability, respect, and compassion to teenagers desperate to learn in a system that was failing them.  It was about talking to K about why he shouldn’t drop out.  It was about visiting J in the hospital after her miscarriage.  It was about tutoring 15-year-old T so he could move past a fifth grade reading level.  Because that was what my students needed, that’s what teaching became for me.  It is what teaching means for thousands of teachers, counselors, teaching assistants, and other public school workers across the state, as we prepare our students for successful futures, not just academically, but in every way.  We work long past our salaried hours to create instruction that challenges our students to grow as critical thinkers.  We advise clubs where our students can express themselves.  We coach sports to promote health and self-discipline.  We counsel the crying, laugh with the happy, protect the bullied, and motivate the discouraged.  We are honest with our students about their struggles and successes, and about our own.  We do all this not for professional gain but because we firmly believe that these children are worth everything we can give them.  We do it because what we teachers want is no different than what our students need.

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9 May 2013

Volunteer for our Summer Free Lunch Program in McDouglad Terrace

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We’ll be running a free lunch program for the entire month of July in McDougald Terrace, the public housing community where we do a lot of work.  The program will run Monday through Friday.  Every day the kids will be engaged in an activity — ranging from drumming to singing to art to history lessons — and then fed a free meal.

There are two primary roles for volunteers Activity Assistants and Food Servers.  Please list your availability below and we will be in touch with more information.  Contact Elias at 928-380-8091 for more information.

26 Feb 2013

People’s Durham: Giving residents a say in their destiny

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Recently People’s Durham has received a fair amount of press because of our work around the affordable housing crisis in Durham.  Below is an article that was published in the INDY Week when we received their 2013 Citizen’s Award.

2013 Citizen Award Winner: People's Durham, from left to right, Ray Eurquhart, Kaye S. Lee, Bonnie Toomer, Sendolo Diaminah, Elias Brangman, Bernadette Toomer, for working with  low-income residents living in Lincoln Apartments, Durham, Jan. 16, 2013.

2013 Citizen Award Winner: People’s Durham, from left to right, Ray Eurquhart, Kaye S. Lee, Bonnie Toomer, Sendolo Diaminah, Elias Brangman, Bernadette Toomer, for working with low-income residents living in Lincoln Apartments, Durham, Jan. 16, 2013.

By Vernal Coleman

Most of its windows are covered with plywood, its parking lots empty. At Lincoln Apartments, most of the 200 low-income families who lived here have left since October, when the foundation that owned the property told residents the upkeep was too expensive. They had to go.

About a dozen tenants remain, say officials from the Durham Housing Authority, which bought the complex in southeast-central Durham last month. They are still waiting for help in transitioning to affordable housing. And were it not for the organizers at People’s Durham, some residents say they would have been forced out weeks ago.

“I didn’t have anywhere to go,” says Barbara Garrett, who still lives at Lincoln, where, for the last five years, she has rented a two-bedroom unit for $340 a month. “We didn’t have any info on what we could do, and it didn’t seem like anyone from the government was going to help us. I could have been homeless.”

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26 Feb 2013

People’s Durham Wins 2013 INDY Citizen’s Award

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citizen-awards-logo Every year INDY Week, a Triangle weekly newspaper, honors “those who fight for social justice” at their Citizen’s Awards Banquet.  Last year one of our founding members, Ray Eurqhart or Brother Ray, was recognized for the decades of tireless activism he’s invested fighting for justice in his neighborhood in the Southside.  This February, People’s Durham was awarded the same honor for our work with the residents at Lincoln Apartments.

Here’s what INDY reporter Lisa Sorg, who covered much of the campaign as it unfolded had to say about our work:

“People’s Durham tackles affordable housing, social justice and educational issues facing underserved minority communities. For too long, they have been excluded from Durham’s cultural and culinary renaissance. Yet these communities, with their deep roots and personal histories in the city, contribute as much to Durham’s essence as the urban hipsters and the entrepreneurial class.”

More information about this year’s winners can be found here.

26 Feb 2013

People’s Durham Aids Local Residents

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Below is an article that was published in the Hillside Chronicle about our recent campaign at Lincoln…

People's Durham receives the 2013 Citizen's Award from Independent Weekly

People’s Durham receives the 2013 Citizen’s Award from Independent Weekly

By Adriana Penley
Staff Writer

On Feb. 2, the organization People’s Durham received the Indy Citizen award because of the previous work they performed to help Lincoln Apartment residents in the fall of 2012.

The leaders of the organization are Senalolo Diaminah and Bryan Proffitt, a Hillside history teacher. Hillside English Teacher Holly Jordan, also a member of the organization, helped write a nomination letter.

People’s Durham, along with a few Hillside students such as Cameron Hall and Gaby Grant, went “door knocking.” The purpose of the door knocking was to register Lincoln residents to vote and to ask question about their abrupt eviction notices.

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30 Nov 2012

What’s Next for Residents at Lincoln?

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By Aiden Graham

Early meeting in the Lincoln anti-eviction campaign

Early meeting in the Lincoln anti-eviction campaign

This October Durham’s critical affordable housing shortage once again made front page news.  The most recent episode, a crisis precipitated by the closure of one of the few remaining apartment complexes serving very low-income tenants.

On September 28th every resident in the 150-unit Lincoln Apartment complex received written 30-day notice that the property owners, the Lincoln Foundation, planned to close the complex.  By mid-October over 150 people were faced with homelessness after Halloween.

People’s Durham organizer Sendolo Diaminah, a tenant organizer in the nearby public housing community McDougald Terrace, was alerted to the situation a few days after tenants received their 30-day notice.  He quickly started holding regular meetings with residents, both to educate people about their rights as tenants and to encourage people to organize and harness the power of collective action.

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30 Nov 2012

Resident Council Elections in the Mac

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By Sendolo Diaminah

Almost two years ago People’s Durham began organizing in McDougald Terrace (“the Mac”), Durham’s largest and oldest public housing project. Over this time we have organized against unfair evictions, helped paint apartments, mobilized voters, and thrown an election-day party with more than a hundred residents. Most important of all, we have built strong relationships with leaders.

This winter our organizing is taking a major step forward. Four of our members are running together as a slate for officer positions on the Mac’s resident council. This is big news because the resident council officers are the official representative of residents with the Durham Housing Authority (DHA). Federal public housing regulations require DHA to recognize, fund, and work with the resident council.

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30 Nov 2012

Voting for Our Neighborhood! Community Organizing & Voter Engagement

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Jade and David discuss doorknocking strategy

Jade and David discuss doorknocking strategy

By Aiden Graham

This election cycle, People’s Durham took on our most ambitious voter engagement program yet.  With the help of a group called Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD) we developed a plan to canvass Precinct 13, one of the areas of most concentrated poverty in historical Black Durham and home to our tenant organizing projects in McDougald Terrace and Lincoln Apartments.  Through the process we built lasting relationships and learned a ton about electoral work, organizing and the community.

Over the course of three weeks we held five canvass days.  More than 30 volunteers participated, both project members and supporters, many coming out multiple times.  Together we knocked on nearly 1,000 doors, leaving literature about voting and our current campaigns at each house.

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    • August 4-11, 2013
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