Social Justice for the Classroom: Part 2 of a Two-Part Series

In my previous post, I suggested we must capitalize on the momentum of social justice movements aided and propelled by social media. How, I asked, can we educate our youth and emphasize to them the possibilities for “doing good” through the technology they use every day?

For those taking up this question—activists, educators, artists, and others—this is an exciting time. Never before have we had access to so much information and ways to share ideas and our stories. As an educator and activist, I am empowered by these tools in conjunction with the new Common Core Education Standards emphasis on teaching nonfiction: It’s a perfect opportunity to re-emphasize current events and civics education. And so I created the American Justice Missing in Action Project (#ajmia), ( a new initiative dedicated to engaging students in conversations about race, class and gender—what I call the intersections of injustice.

technology in the classroom is a tool. Photo by Dell; used under a Creative Commons license.By Kanene Holder, Center Alumna

“The illiterate of the twenty-first century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” —Alvin Toffler

“I think the first duty of society is justice.” —Alexander Hamilton

In my previous post, I suggested we must capitalize on the momentum of social justice movements aided and propelled by social media. How, I asked, can we educate our youth and emphasize to them the possibilities for “doing good” through the technology they use every day?
Continue reading “Social Justice for the Classroom: Part 2 of a Two-Part Series”

Social Justice for the Classroom and the Twitterverse: A Two-Part Series

Mother's Day march in the Bronx. Photo by Carwill. Courtesy Creative Commons

By Kanene Holder, Center alumna

Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” April 3, 1968

For Every Act of Injustice, There is A Response for Equality
Last week, April 4 marked the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Paying homage to MLK’s Poor People Campaign, I headed to a march for justice for fast-food workers. This is also the third week of the Stop and Frisk trial. I was stopped and frisked in 2002, hence I stood in solidarity with NYC high school students and activists near the courthouse demanding justice. The week prior, hundreds took to the streets of Harlem speaking against gun violence. The week before that, crowds sat and watched the 10-year anniversary of the award-winning Bowling for Columbine documentary and reflected on how far we have come. After the screening, I listened to the passion of organizers and was teleported back to my idyllic childhood filled with ribbons in my hair and black and white composition notebooks. Ensnarled in my own dissonance, I wondered why, in this land of opportunity I was taught to pledge allegiance to, justice is absent or missing in action.

Continue reading “Social Justice for the Classroom and the Twitterverse: A Two-Part Series”

Partnering for a Cure

ALR Students

By Katherine Cho, Colin Powell Center Service-Learning Coordinator

The 2012 Fall Semester partnered service-learning professor Lynne Scott-Jackson and her Public Relations writing class with the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR).  Alliance for Lupus Research, the world’s largest private funder for lupus research, focuses on preventing, treating, and curing lupus.  (For more information, please visit ALR’s website.)

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The Demise of the Last Pharoah

Congratulations to the Egyptians for gaining their deserved freedom from the tyrant, Hosni Mubarak “the last Pharaoh” and finally liberating the state from the authoritarian regime. What a spectacular way for them to end this authoritarian regime. This demonstrates the great power that existed within the Egyptian society in taking things into their own hands. Who would have thought that tools like Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet in general could be such a catalyst in mobilizing the Egyptian people for bringing an end to tyranny in their land, from the heart of Liberation Square (Tahrir Square).

There are numerous lessons that humanity can learn from these peaceful protests in Egypt, which brought an end to the three decades of authoritarian rule. Three points come to mind about this historic January 25 revolution in the land of pyramids. The first lesson is that there is nothing that ordinary people cannot do when they come together to bring about real change even if this means facing the tanks and the brutality of the state police.

The second lesson is that the actions of authoritarian regimes against their own people are unacceptable, the world over, and no matter how long these systems exist they will end. The Egyptian regime, in attempting to stay in power as long as it could, utilized all the state mechanisms to suppress its people, jailing all dissidents and increasing the police in the streets to keep things under control. Since these actions were not built on the will of the people (the governed), they failed miserably. The most important thing in the twenty first century is accountability to your own people as a state, and since the Egyptian government has never been in touch with the poor people and never answered their demands, the result was that the very people it tried to suppress brought it down. Therefore, it meant injustice might last for a while, but not forever. The events in Egypt have shown the world that nothing is impossible if people try hard enough to gain their freedom and civil rights. No matter how long they stay in power, their citizens would always find ways of expressing their opinions.

This leads me to my third point, which is the issue of legitimacy, accountability, and the social contract between the people and the state or in other words the relationship between a government and the governed. According to John Locke, the great social scientist, people in a social contract give up their rights to the state willingly on the condition that the state protects their lives, assets, and organizes their day-to-day affairs. What has become clear from watching the protests in Egypt over the past three weeks is that this contract between the government and the people has not been respected by the authoritarian regime, which over the course of thirty years of existence committed many human rights violations, and crimes against its own people. Once this trust between the government and the governed elapsed, it became impossible for the Egyptians to live under this regime and hence they took to the streets to demand their rights.

A clear message has been sent to authoritarian rulers the world over that they can no longer do business as usual with their citizens. Long live the power of the people.
Hashim Hassan is a former Colin Powell Fellow (’10) and a graduate of the City College of New York.

Social media and the Egyptian revolt

I’ve been paralyzed for the past few days following the historic events unfolding in Egypt.  I studied in Egypt in 2009, and I spent a year researching the April 6th Youth Movement (A6YM), an Egyptian political opposition group that played a significant role in organizing the initial protests that have since morphed into a national uprising.  There are a few things that my research on social media in Egyptian opposition movements can add to the understanding of what’s happening in Egypt.

Obvious as it may seem, this didn’t “just happen.”

Clearly, the unrest in Egypt was sparked by the apparent successful uprising in Tunisia.  And it is generally understood that economic, political, and social conditions in Egypt have deteriorated over the past thirty years.  Still, one cannot simply draw a straight line from the events in Tunisia to what is happening in Egypt.  An underlying fabric of opposition has existed for years in Egypt, growing larger and more efficient with the aid of social media tools, and it is this existing opposition which made possible the protests that snowballed into open revolt.

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