During SISO, our “Organizers In Training” (former SMART members) facilitated a variety of popular education based activities and workshops to engage DCPS English Language Learners (ELL) and mainstream students in thought provoking and honest conversations about language justice, the Movement for Black Lives, immigrant rights movement, D.C. education, minimum wage, and gentrification.
After learning and identifying the different systems of oppression, we took the time to honor and learn about those who have organized before us. We broke out into two different groups and decided on two different movements to learn about and draw connections. Our current SMART members (i.e. SMARTies) that participated in SISO chose to learn about the immigrant rights and civil rights movement, so they researched each movement's unifying vision, historic moments, key leaders, tactics, and victories. Through their research, they lifted up the voices of Fannie Lou Hamer, Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, Philip Vera Cruz, Yuri Kochiyama, Larry Itliong, Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, Stokely Carmichael, several undocumented leaders and so much more. Towards the end of the activity, the youth discussed how present day movements like the Movement for Black Lives and the immigrant rights movement continue to use similar tactics as those used in the past. The SMARTies started a practice to end each day with a call and response quote from Assata Shakur “It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and protect each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
To learn more about SMART and the Summer Institute for Student Organizing, please email MLOV's Immigrant Youth Justice Organizer Ray Jose at ray(at)mlovdc.org!
Support for this year's SISO and Learning Exchange trip was provided by the DC Diverse City Fund, the DC Mayor's Office for Latino Affairs, the DC Mayor's Office for Asian Pacific Islander Affairs, and the DC Mayor's Office for African Affairs.