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The People’s Lunch Counter in Texas: an interview wit’ organizer Seidah Williams

August 16, 2011

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

Robert King, the only member of the Angola 3 to have won his freedom from the infamous Louisiana plantation-turned-prison so far, hosted Seidah Williams, Hajj Malcolm Shabazz and the People’s Minister of Information JR at his home in Austin, Texas, during Malcolm and JR’s speaking tour, organized by Seidah last month. – Photo: Block Report Radio
Seidah Williams is an organizer with the People’s Lunch Counter I have known for a few years. Her and her comrades have been doing a lot of community work in Texas in general, and particularly in the Dallas and Ft. Worth area. Last month, I spent two weeks in Texas with her and her comrades and I learned a lot from their organization, as well as from Seidah, herself. Out of all of the organizers that I know locally and nationally, Seidah is one of the most humble, fair and objective people that I call my comrade. I love the fact that she tells the truth and not necessarily what someone wants to hear.

A lot of the time, if we don’t have a job that requires it, we have not traveled extensively around the country or the world, so I believe that it is my duty to share what I have seen on the road so hopefully it would inspire others to see the world.

M.O.I. JR: What is the People’s Lunch Counter? How did it start? What do y’all do?

Seidah: The People’s Lunch Counter (PLC) is an organization that focuses on health, environmental and social justice. Our mission is to pursue positive change and address the plight of our people living in low income communities. PLC provides an atmosphere that nurtures and develops self determination by the way of community and home gardening, holistic health and wellness, and political education.

PLC was established in February of 2007 by a collective of youth that wanted to do practical work in the Dallas-Fort Worth community. Our goal is to raise the awareness of the people through cultural and social events and programming.

The members of PLC have been affiliated with several different organizations, yet felt the need to have an organization that would work directly with the people on a grassroots level and educate them simultaneously. PLC organizes a variety of programs such as Community Cookouts, The Black August Course, Know Your Rights workshops, Edutainment (Educating through Entertainment) etc.

M.O.I. JR: What are some of the campaigns that y’all work on in the Dallas community?

Seidah: With the Black August Course, PLC has created a curriculum that was inspired by the Black August Movement that started in the concentration camps in California in honor of fallen freedom fighters. Black August is a time for outreach, to practice discipline and study and discuss our history and the current conditions of our people.

For the entire month of August, students wear black armbands on their left arms and study the revolutionary works and the historical events that took place in August. We also practice fasting and cleansing regularly and physical exercise. Students learn to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance. Black August Course 2011 will highlight the women freedom fighters.

End Child Hunger Now: PLC, in collaboration with Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) and By 2015: America, organized a peanut butter drive for the End Child Hunger Campaign that strives to bring the solution to WIC’s budget cut of $800 million from the government, which leaves 19.5 million or one out of four children ages 0 to 18 hungry in America.

The People’s Cookout: PLC has partnered with several organizations over the past three years to sponsor and host BBQs and free food handouts to feed the homeless and families in need within the community.

Red, Black and Going Green is the environmental movement remixed: The People’s Lunch Counter along with MXGM and Guerilla Mainframe hosted an Environmental Lecture Series with international recording artists and community leaders Dead Prez. Dead Prez offered a “hood” centered perspective on the sustainability movement as a matter of political education, economic development, holistic health and wellness, environmental justice, community mobilization and self empowerment.

RBG Block Party: The RBG Block Party is hosted on the last Saturday of August. This is where participants break their fast at the People’s Feast and enjoy our Edutainment showcase. The RBG Block Party showcase includes politically and socially aware artists of hip-hop, reggae and soul, community leaders, speakers and organizations. During the showcase we show our support for political prisoners and raise awareness of the conditions of our people.

These are our other campaigns: The People’s Crimewatch, HIV/AIDS Awareness Testing and Seminar, Backpack for Kids, Love2Haiti, Free the Scott Sisters/Full Pardon for Scott Sisters, Political Prisoner Support/Letter Writing Group, Know Your Rights, Justice for Tae Reynolds, Justice for Oscar Grant, Project Rethink, Mothers Against Teen Violence, Shoe Drives for Incarcerated Teens, COAPT (Communities Organizing Against Police Terrorism), National Campaign Against Police Brutality and several others.

M.O.I. JR: What are some of your most valued accomplishments in organizing people in Dallas? What have been some of the biggest obstacles to organizing in Dallas?

Seidah: As an organization, we have created a name for ourselves in the community as a trusted source for resourceful information as well as bringing justice, political and social awareness. We have successfully organized several programs that have educated and fed hundreds of people in the past three years.

We are definitely a grassroots organization that has reached people outside of what we consider the “conscious community.” We have also narrowed the gap between the youth and the elders creating an atmosphere that involves all generations to focus on solutions for the issues we face in our community. We are accomplishing our goal to be living examples of positive and constructive change for the people, especially the youth, in our community.

The efforts of organizing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with 9,286 square miles and over 6.3 million people can definitely be a challenge. The People’s Lunch Counter is a non-profit grassroots organization that is in its beginning stages. We have been fortunate to have been able to maintain the financing of all of our programs and activities through fundraisers and personal contributions from the members of PLC. The struggle continues …

M.O.I. JR: What do you hope to accomplish in a five year period with your organizing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area?

Seidah: In the next five years, PLC plans to secure an office space for our headquarters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and build chapters in other cities across the country. We plan to have strong support from the community and enough financial support to work effectively. We want to have a space that houses our programs to build and strengthen the relationships necessary to create change in the health, economic and social justice systems for residents, activists, organizers and concerned individuals.

Our plan is to work with other organizations on common points of interest and change the plight of our people internationally. We strive to play an active role in the revolutionary process that moves our people forward.

We hope to create a community of self-sustaining people; a community of people with skills ranging from gardening to building and repairing homes in the community, to securing and protecting their homes and neighborhoods, providing political and social education, health and wellness and programs to empower people and organize and establish other needed power forces.

M.O.I. JR: How could people keep up with y’all?

Seidah: Contact us by phone, email or Facebook at:

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.

 

 

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