Pittsburgh Freedom School

Starting Date: 04-16-2010
Ending Date: 04-18-2010

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15122
United States
What is the Pittsburgh Freedom School (PFS)?

Based on the Freedom School tradition from the civil rights movement, the PFS will be a weekend of camaraderie, movement building, networking, actions, training, workshops, films, anti-oppression practice, and other events. The goal is to link our struggles for justice together based on cross-movement solidarity, understanding, and friendship. We understand that every privilege enjoyed in our current era is the result of centuries of social movement resistance to the gears of oppression. Labor unions, students, environmental justice folks, community organizers, and all other revolutionaries must embrace one another in the common struggle to build a society based on consent, respect, dignity, and cooperation. The PFS will arm us with the tools we need to get organized, grow, and support one another’s work.

After this weekend, we hope that the coalition of groups involved, especially those based regionally around Pittsburgh, will stick together in a “social change community” to work collectively to spread the organizing sparks of the Freedom School like wildfire through our neighborhoods. In a city where the NFL team is more relevant to the daily lives of people than the defunct city government, we have the opportunity to displace functions of the state and businesses with cooperative, federated projects in our communities. This radical infrastructure, in addition to meeting needs of our communities, will hopefully be a base for mobilizations, convergences, and summits against oppression in our society.

Who’s big idea was the PFS?

Trainers and revolutionaries, of all genders and varying sexualities, black and white, youth and elders, anarchists, socialists, and progressives, frustrated with the disconnect that post-modern, hierarchical single-issue movements have restrained our ability to address structural and systemic oppression effectively. In order to extinguish the flames of state and corporate abuse of our friends and our Planet, we must work, build, and resist together.

What’s up with the planning process? How did this come about?

The PFS is a project that organizers decided to work on through a variety of different ways, most especially to combine resources, requests for space at the University of Pittsburgh, and capacity as organizers.

Socialist Day School – a group of Marxists were planning a 7-hour Socialist Day School for Saturday, April 17th and decided it would be cool to have it available to participants in other events happening at that time, including the Pittsburgh Freedom School.

Northeast Students for a Democratic Society “Actionvention” – this was being planned to be in Pittsburgh and the best available weekend was April 16-18 because the next two weekends were UPitt’s finals week and graduation. The “actionventions” have a goal of training and networking members of SDS together in the student movement.

Keystone Environmental Youth Coalition – a new Pennsylvania coalition of students and youth working in environmental organizations who are working on a campaign called Fracking: Quit It Already!, a campaign to end the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. At their last retreat they showed interest in having a training in April for their members to train and learn skills like facilitation, campaign strategy, community and campus organizing, etc.

Police Brutality Against Jordan Miles – some organizers for police accountability in the city, partcularly in the black and high school communities are working on a campaign regarding the plain clothes officers involved with beating Jordan Miles, an 18-year-old honors student, while walking in his neighborhood. This would be an opportunity for those activists to be trained in nonviolent civil disobedience, community organizing, and other valuable skills for their struggle.

Labor Unions – Labor organizing campaigns at various workplaces around Pittsburgh will be able to access the Pittsburgh Freedom School for resources, inspiration, solidarity, and training that is desperately needed to win contracts from their employers.

Celebration of the Lives of Howard Zinn and Dennis Brutus – This is an event already planned for Sunday, April 18, 1-3pm that will honor the achievements of these great allies to struggles around the world. This could be a great contribution to the spirit of the PFS.

And so, the PFS is born of these and many ideas to come in the future. We encourage you to get involved in the planning! Register and tell us what you are looking for coming out of this event!
Geographical Scope: State

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