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Reclaim the Airwaves Tour - Report Back
Prometheus' National Organizer, Jeff Rousset, traveled on a month-long tour of the Southeast talking with people about the opportunity to build new community radio stations. Groups rooted in struggles for social justice throughout the region helped Prometheus organize 17 public events in 14 different cities across 8 states. We visited 3 existing Low Power FM radio stations making a big impact in their communities: KOCZ in Opelousas, LA, WSLR in Venice, FL, and Radio Concienscia in Immokalee, FL. We also attended the Facing Race Conference and the Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference. All along the way we took pictures, recorded video interviews, and collected stories of struggle and victory in the Deep South that testify to the power of media. Dozens of incredible groups and individuals from across the South helped make this tour happen, and you can learn more about many of them below. Special thanks to Project South, who organized an event in Atlanta, connected us to their networks in the region, and sent one of their organizers, Corina, on the road with us for two weeks!
To view more photos from the tour visit our flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/prometheusradio/sets/. Please be patient as we edit and upload videos!
11/15/12 - Baltimore, MD - Facing Race Conference
11/17/12 - Durham, NC - Hosted by Durham Community Media/ The People's Channel
11/18 - Asheville, NC - Event hosted by the Center for Participatory Change
"We organize against La Poli Migra - police and ICE collaboration. La Poli Migra is in our neighborhoods all the time. A big problem we've seen is license checkpoints targeting our neighborhoods. They set them up right at the entrance of the trailer park. Or right in front of tiendas, apartment complexes, and in areas where lots of immigrants and people of color live. They're following us all the time," said Loida, who volunteers with Defensa Communitaria, which is a project of Nuestro Centro, a group fighting for justice for the immigrant community that is supported by Center for Participatory Change. Numerous checkpoints, workplace raids, and deportations have devastated immigrant families and put fear in the community. People believe having a community radio station could help break the silence and defend communities against these kinds of attacks.
Kim (below) is a founder of Asheville Free Media. They have over 50 music programs, dozens of volunteers, a beautiful studio, and are ready to expand from internet to FM to broadcast diverse music and local news to the community.
11/19 + 11/20 - Knoxville, TN - Hosted by Community Economic Development Network of East Tennessee (CEDNET)
The first event in Knoxville was for groups in the city who want to start a station. Many in attendance were from labor and environmental organizations.
The second event in Knoxville brought together rural and environmental groups from across East Tennessee to hear about the chance to start stations.
11/26 - Chattanooga, TN - Hosted by Concerned Citizens for Justice
Police brutality is a major problem in Chattanooga and community members feel that a radio station can help hold police accountable.
"It gives us a space to be able to really own it in a time where so much of media is monopolized right now, and what's being told is not our narrative. It's not our story. And when something that's about our story gets told it's totally misshaped and manipulated so that it comes out not sounding like us and usually makes us look worse for wear. I think that my mom and dad have taught me that to whom much is given much is required. Once you've gotten to a place where you understand the politics of our organizing and you're dedicating your life to living a life of service for social justice that you've gotta work for the people and that those people have the self-determination to make decisions for themselves and tell their own stories. I think that community radio gives us one more outlet to do that." - Ash-Lee Henderson of CCJ. Her father was one of the talk show hosts on WNOO, which was one of the first and only black-owned radio stations in the city of Chattanooga. Her mother was a member of the original Black Panther Party. In her own words: "I was born into a legacy of cultural organizing!"
11/27 - Atlanta, GA - Hosted by Project South... And hitting the road with them!
From left: Corina, Niqua, Emery, Jeff
Project South is a regional movement-building organization focused on building leadership of marginalized people to support racial, economic, and social justice. They do local youth organizing work in Atlanta, which includes a youth radio show - Youth Speak Truth Radio on the local community station, WRFG. They also do regional work with Southern coalitions and campaigns, and they've played a big role in national movement-building through the U.S. Social Forum process. Project South anchored the first U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007. Corina traveled with us for two weeks to connect us with Project South's network, connect community radio with existing movement-building work in the South, and to talk about the People's First 100 Days to folks we met on the tour.
11/30/12 - Jackson, MS - Hosted by The Young People's Project
12/3/12 - Opelousas, LA - KOCZ Opelousas Community Radio
John Freeman, station manager at KOCZ, Opelousas Community Radio in Opelousas, LA. KOCZ has been critical to preserving Zydeco music, a form of folk music born in that part of Louisiana over 150 years ago. Although it's a local artistic tradition with a rich heritage, Zydeco music was absent from the airwaves of commercial radio stations in the area until after KOCZ brought it back into the spotlight. Today, some Zydeco musicians travel all around the world playing those Louisiana songs.
12/4 - New Orleans, LA - Hosted by Moving Forward Gulf Coast
Corina (above) from Project South talked about the People's First 100 Days with organizers from Moving Forward Gulf Coast, Greater New Orleans Organizers' Roundtable, Lower 9th Ward Village, Incite! Women of Color Against VIolence, local artists and more.
12/5 - New Orleans, LA - Hosted by VAYLA - Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association
Young people and community members attended an event we did at VAYLA to talk about building a community radio station for the Vietnamese community that can especially be a tool for youth empowerment.
Mk Nguyen is the director of VAYLA.
We also got down with a New Orleans musical tradition - Second Line!
12/6/12 - Dothan, Alabama visiting The Ordinary Peoples Society
We visited The Ordinary People's Society and their facilities in Dothan. TOPS has long wanted a station in Dothan that can help reach the poor with faith-based services they provide like feeding the hungry and supporting formerly incarcerated people and drug addicts to become empowered.
12/7/12 - 12/9/12 - Charleston, SC - Southern Human Rights Organizers' Conference
Conference organizers pose at the end of the weekend. SHROC seeks to build a worker-led social justice movement for human rights in the South. The bigger vision is to strengthen movements for labor and human rights nationwide.
Solidarity protest against the Medical University of South Carolina in response to labor conditions.
Project South held a strategy session and dinner with the Southern Movement Assembly.
Stephanie, co-director of Project South.
Emery, co-director of Project South.
Corina from Project South traveled with Prometheus for two weeks and helped make the tour a success!
12/10/12 - Orlando, FL - Hosted by AWAKENING Arts & Culture
Congressman Alan Grayson came to our event and spoke for a few minutes about the importance of independent media.
Special thanks to Sue Thompson for taking beautiful pics! To view more of Sue's photos please click here.
12/11/12 - Sarasota, FL - WSLR 96.5 Community Radio - LP
WSLR has dozens of volunteers. Before anyone is allowed to have a show they need to commit to volunteering for the station. That way they build capacity to operate the station while giving people a voice over the airwaves.
12/11/12 - Venice, FL - Hosted by Unitarian Universalists Congregation of Venice
12/12/12 - Immokalee, FL - Visiting the Radio Conciencia and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
The CIW has used their Low Power FM station to expose 9 cases of modern day slavery in the farm fields of Immokalee. They've also used the station to win historic labor campaigns against the biggest food companies on the planet including McDonald's, Taco Bell, Burger King, Trader Joe's, and Chipotle. They are currently campaigning against supermarket giant Publix and just announced a 150 mile March for Rights, Respect, and Fair Food!
From left: Oscar, Gerardo, Santiago, Leonel
12/13/12 - Miami, FL - Hosted by Power U Center for Social Change
Power U is focused on supporting youth organizing and challenging the school to prison pipeline. They also have a women's empowerment program.
Daniela from the Student Farmworker Alliance and Just Harvest and Gerardo from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers traveled with Prometheus from Imokalee to Miami. They talked about how Radio Conciencia has helped their organizing work and the support Prometheus has provided to them.
12/16/12 - Jacksonville, FL - Hosted by New Jim Crow Movement
A young man of color, Jordan Davis, was recently shot in Jacksonville, in a case that made national headlines, by a white man who insisted he was listening to the radio too loud and felt threatened. New Jim Crow Movement wants to use radio to challenge a long legacy of racism in Jacksonville.
12/16/12 - Savannah, GA - Hosted by Dare Dukes and allies
Dar Dukes is a local artist who also does development work for Global Action Project, a national youth media organization based out of NYC.
12/17/12 - Charlotte, NC - Hosted by Voices from the Community at AKA Creative
AKA Creative let us use their beautiful space for the event.
Journalists, artists, activists, and entrepreneurs all came together to talk about starting a community radio station in Charlotte!