Lisa Fithian presents: "Shut it Down"

Friday September 6, 7:00PM

@ Red Emma's

A veteran activist’s guide to direct action and strategic civil disobedience as the most radical and rapid means to social change

For decades, Lisa Fithian’s work as an advocate for civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action has put her on the frontlines of change. Described by Mother Jones as “the nation’s best-known protest consultant,” Fithian has supported countless movements including the Battle of Seattle in 1999, rebuilding and defending communities following Hurricane Katrina, Occupy Wall Street, and the uprisings at Standing Rock and in Ferguson. For anyone who wants to become more active in resistance or is just feeling overwhelmed or hopeless, Shut It Down offers strategies and actions you can take right now to promote justice and incite change in your own community.

In Shut It Down Fithian shares historic, behind-the-scenes stories from some of the most important people-powered movements of the past several decades. She shows how movements that embrace direct action have always been, and continue to be, the most radical and rapid means for transforming the ills of our society. Shut It Down is filled with instructions and inspiration for how movements can evolve as the struggle for social justice continues in the Trump era and beyond.

While recognizing that electoral politics, legislation, and policy are all important pathways to change, Shut It Down argues that civil disobedience is not just one of the only actions that remains when all else fails, but a spiritual pursuit that protects our deepest selves and allows us to reclaim our humanity. Change can come, but only if we’re open to creatively, lovingly, and strategically standing up, sometimes at great risk to ourselves, to protect what we love.

About Lisa Fithian

Lisa Fithian is an anti-racist organizer who has worked for justice since the 1970s. Using creative, strategic nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience, she has won many battles and trained tens of thousands of activists while participating in a range of movements and mobilizations, including Occupy Wall Street, anti-WTO and corporate globalization protests all over the world, the climate justice movement, and more. Lisa enjoys walking, playing with children, gardening, cooking great food, being in the wild, and raising up new generations to be agents of change. She is grateful to play her part in manifesting a world rooted in respect, justice, and liberation.

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Pecinovsky's book contains six capsule biographies of American left-wing thinkers.

"Through compelling and readable life histories, Let Them Tremble reveals how the Communist Party, USA struggled against racism, sexism, environmental destruction and militarism. This is essential reading..."
- Andrew Zimmerman, author of The Civil War In The United States: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

"A fine study of American left wing personalities...Highly recommended!"
- Paul Buhle, author of Marxism in the United States: A History of the American Left

Chapter 1:

Arnold Johnson: A “consistent and vigorous” defender of the Bill of Rights and the Peace Offensive

               - Throughout his political career, Johnson articulated a unique defense of the Bill of Rights, a defense intimately intertwined with African American Civil Rights, peace and free speech. His activities, like those of his comrades, can easily be characterized as part of a strategic Red-Black alliance, a decades long formal and informal collaboration that brought Black luminaries and activists into the CPUSA’s Red orbit. This chapter centers Johnson’s defense of the Bill of Rights as not only a fight for the legal rights of communists but also as a fight for Civil Rights and peace, as the Party (with Johnson as head of its Peace Commission) made considerable contributions to the 1960’s peace movement. The chronology is the late 1940’s into the 1970’s.     


Chapter 2:

Charlene Mitchell: Presidential politics, the National Alliance and the fight against Reaganism

               - Mitchell’s 1968 presidential election campaign, the Party’s own short-comings in initiating the campaign, the emergence of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and Mitchell’s analysis of the various movements that emerged during the early Reagan Administration are discussed in this chapter. Significant attention is given to the political context of the late 1960’s, as the youth and student upsurge, Black Power movements and feminism all coalesced to impress upon the Party a unique opportunity to present Mitchell as potentially embodying a revived Communist Party, one reflective of emerging movements. Significant attention is also given to Mitchell’s work as head of the National Alliance and her assault in 1982. The chronology is the late 1960’s into the late 1980’s.  


Chapter 3:

Gus Hall: The ‘Right to Speak,’ young communists and strategic relationships

               - In the early 1960’s, Hall and the CPUSA embarked on an ambitious and deliberate campaign to rebuild their hounded and depleted ranks among youth and students. Far from being marginal, communists were an essential component of the youth and student upsurge and the free speech movements of the time, initiating new and important organizational formations. In all, it is estimated that communists, like Hall, collectively spoke with at least 100,000 students during the early 1960s, as tens of thousands organized on their university and college campuses for the right to hear Reds speak. Hall saw this fight for the right to hear communists led by students as a strategic relationship, an opportunity to rebuild and replenish the Party’s ranks though the Progressive Youth Organizing Committee, the W.E.B. DuBois Clubs and the Young Workers’ Liberation League, while shifting political discourse away from war in Vietnam. The continuing work of communists among youth and students into the 2000s after Hall’s death is also briefly discussed in this chapter. The chronology is the 1960’s through the 1980’s and into the early 2000’s.  


Chapter 4:

Henry Winston: Sight, Vision and Black Liberation

               - Winston’s imprisonment in 1956 is placed in political and historical context as communists led an international campaign eventuating in his release. As Organizational Secretary, Winston’s late 1940’s and early 1950’s analysis of the immediate impact of the emerging Red Scare on the Party and its membership provides a new perspective on the U.S. government’s early failure at isolating Reds. This chapter also looks at Winston’s analysis of the 1960’s Black Freedom movements and tactics employed by more adventurist elements. Highlighted are some of Winston’s criticisms of the Party in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s as he continued to articulate a “three pronged” approach to organizing well into his last years. Throughout his life, Winston argued for a robust approach to Party building, an approach centered on grassroots electoral work, industrial concentration and mass struggle. To him, a wedding of these tactics generated optimal results for Party growth and influence. The chronology is the early 1960’s into the 1970’s and 1980’s. 


Chapter 5:

Judith LeBlanc: Indigenous Marxism, Changing America and United for Peace & Justice

               - Le Blanc’s analysis of Native American oppression, from the Occupation of Wounded Knee, through the 1980’s and into the Standing Rock movement, is discussed in this chapter. To LeBlanc, the emphasis on Native American oppression was often connected to the struggle for workers’ rights to form and join unions and to protect the environment – a call decades ahead of its time. This chapter also focuses on LeBlanc’s role in the Party’s public access TV show, Changing America, a unique attempt by communists to reach into the then emerging demand for independent media. Throughout the early 2000s LeBlanc also helped lead United For Peace & Justice (UFPJ), a nation-wide coalition dedicated to building opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The chronology is the late 1970’s into the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s.

Chapter 6:

W. Alphaeus Hunton: The National Negro Congress, the Council on African Affairs and Black Liberation

               - Hunton’s leadership in the National Negro Congress and the Council on African Affairs, as well as his move to Ghana after W.E.B. Du Bois’ invitation is the focus of this chapter. As a leading African American intellectual and organizer largely forgotten today, Hunton was greatly admired during his time by Black luminaries Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Like Robeson and Du Bois, Hunton was also a mentor to many African American communists, including Charlene Mitchell, and helped lay the architectural groundwork for what would later become the modern Civil Rights Movement. Though he never held an official position within the Party, Hunton was a key personality within various Party-led initiatives such as the NNC, CAA and the Civil Rights Congress and as a result was hounded by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) throughout his career. The chronology is the late 1930’s into the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Distinguished historian Ellen Carol DuBois explores the links of the woman suffrage movement to the abolition of slavery. After the Civil War, Congress granted freed African American men the right to vote but not white and African American women, a crushing disappointment. DuBois shows how suffrage leaders persevered through the Jim Crow years into the reform era of Progressivism. She introduces new champions Carrie Chapman Catt and Alice Paul, who brought the fight into the 20th century, and she shows how African American women, led by Ida B. Wells-Barnett, demanded voting rights even as white suffragists ignored them.

Suffrage: Women’s Long Battle for the Vote is sure to become the authoritative account of one of the great episodes in the history of American democracy.

Hey everyone—in partnership with Verso Books and The Democracy Collaborative, we are moving forward with this event online! Join us virtually by registering here — we'll be sharing the recipe for our truly excellent Green New Deal cocktail on Instagram in advance of the event so we can all convene as originally scheduled, and raise an alcoholic/nonalcoholic glass together as we hear from Daniel and Thea about how we fight for the planet in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. 


A Planet to Win explores the political potential and concrete first steps of a Green New Deal. It calls for dismantling the fossil fuel industry, building beautiful landscapes of renewable energy, and guaranteeing climate-friendly work, no-carbon housing, and free public transit. And it shows how a Green New Deal in the United States can strengthen climate justice movements worldwide.

In the twenty-first century, all politics are climate politics. The age of climate gradualism is over, as unprecedented disasters are exacerbated by inequalities of race and class. We need profound, radical change. A Green New Deal can tackle the climate emergency and rampant inequality at the same time. Cutting carbon emissions while winning immediate gains for the many is the only way to build a movement strong enough to defeat big oil, big business, and the super-rich—starting right now.

We don't make politics under conditions of our own choosing, and no one would choose this crisis. But crises also present opportunities. We stand on the brink of disaster—but also at the cusp of wondrous, transformative change.

“A Planet to Win comes at the perfect moment, challenging us to find hope and build a more just world in the face of catas-trophe. The authors outline transformative solutions to the climate crisis that are economically viable and politically possible—if we organize and fight to win.”

—Varshini Prakash, Executive Director, Sunrise Movement

“The climate crisis presents an enormous, existential challenge to our species. But we don’t have time to be overwhelmed. The enormity of the task requires even bigger ideas, strategies, and tactics. In this book, some of our sharpest, most lucid voices on climate make a critical intervention in the burgeoning movement to save our planet. Read their book and join the struggle.”

“Urgent, clear-eyed, and energizing, this book is a powerful example of the radical collaborative thinking we desperately need to avoid climate dystopia and win a world where the many can survive and thrive.”

“Climate change is now deadly serious; that’s why this deadly serious book is so welcome and so crucial right now. No more nibbling around the edges—it’s time to actually seize this moment.”

“An excellent orientation to the ecological crisis we face and the Green New Deal that is the necessary start of our response. This book puts its finger right on the pulse of our moment.”

A searing exposé of the effects of the mass incarceration crisis on families — including the 2.7 million American children who have a parent locked up

In The Shadow System, award-winning journalist Sylvia A. Harvey follows the fears, challenges, and small victories of three families struggling to live within the confines of a brutal system. In Florida, a young father tries to maintain a relationship with his daughter despite a sentence of life without parole. In Kentucky, where the opioid epidemic has led to the increased incarceration of women, many of whom are white, one mother fights for custody of her children. In Mississippi, a wife steels herself for her husband’s thirty-ninth year in prison and does her best to keep their sons close.

Through these stories, Harvey reveals a shadow system of laws and regulations enacted to dehumanize the incarcerated and profit off their families — from mandatory sentencing laws, to restrictions on prison visitation, to astronomical charges for brief phone calls.

The Shadow System is an eye-opening account of the way incarceration has impacted generations of American families; it delivers a galvanizing clarion call to fix this broken system.

"My brother was imprisoned for 30 years. I know firsthand just how devastating the impact of imprisonment is on a family. Sylvia A. Harvey's The Shadow System is an emotionally powerful and devastating analysis of how the prison system punishes and profits from families caught in its clutches. This urgent book makes us aware that some of the heaviest costs of incarceration are borne by children and families."—Michael Eric Dyson, New York Times bestselling author

Advertising Shits in Your Head is a new toolkit that calls adverts what they are—a powerful means of control through manipulation—and highlights how people across the world are fighting back. Co-authors Matt Bonner and Vyvian Raoul (UK) will diagnose the problem and offer practical tips for a DIY remedy. This session and book is a call-to-arts for a generation raised on adverts which offers practical solutions and guidance on how to subvert the ads.

Advertising Shits in Your Head provides a history of the practice (going back to the early ‘70s), alarming research and theory on the effects of the industry, advice about how to take part (including legal information) as well as several stunning case studies. This is essential reading for all who want to fight back against the ‘most powerful and sustained system of propaganda in human history.’“
—Jamie Kelsey-Fry, New Internationalist

Five of the authors featured in this essay anthology discuss their work: Peter B. Levy, Say Burgin, Kristopher Burrell, Laura Warren Hill, and Crystal Moten

Did American racism originate in the liberal North? An inquiry into the system of institutionalized racism created by Northern Jim Crow.

Jim Crow was not a regional sickness, it was a national cancer. Even at the high point of twentieth century liberalism in the North, Jim Crow racism hid in plain sight. Perpetuated by colorblind arguments about “cultures of poverty,” policies focused more on black criminality than black equality. Procedures that diverted resources in education, housing, and jobs away from poor black people turned ghettos and prisons into social pandemics. Americans in the North made this history. They tried to unmake it, too.

Liberalism, rather than lighting the way to vanquish the darkness of the Jim Crow North gave racism new and complex places to hide. The twelve original essays in this anthology unveil Jim Crow’s many strange careers in the North. They accomplish two goals: first, they show how the Jim Crow North worked as a system to maintain social, economic, and political inequality in the nation’s most liberal places; and second, they chronicle how activists worked to undo the legal, economic, and social inequities born of Northern Jim Crow policies, practices, and ideas.

The book ultimately dispels the myth that the South was the birthplace of American racism, and presents a compelling argument that American racism actually originated in the North.