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Bay Area join US Social Forum

September 28, 2007

Bay Area join US Social Forum
By Kwan Booth (June, 27, 2007-Oakland Post)

As the first ever US Social Forum (USSF) kicked off June 27, a large
contingent of Bay Area organizers and activists headed to Atlanta,
joining social justice advocates from around the world for one of the
largest progressive working meetings in US history.

Representatives from the Freedom Archives, Youth Media Council, Global
Exchange, PODER, and others will participate in workshops ranging from
black liberation and collective ownership to the politics of
fundraising and the role of music in social change.

Claude Marks, director of the Freedom Archives, hopes to drum up
support for the SF 8, the former Black Panthers who were arrested in
January on 35 year old charges.

“I think because this is a large gathering our hope is to broaden our
support base for the panthers case,” said Marks, who will lead a
workshop on the case.

With the slogan “If Another World is Possible, Another U.S. is
Necessary”, organizers say the 5 day forum will be a show solidarity
with progressive and grassroots activists worldwide.

“The U.S. Social Forum will have people from virtually all walks of
life,” says National Planning Committee member Michael Guerrero.
“From block club associations to local and national leaders from
labor, immigration rights, health and more, the Forum will be a
creative, engaging space for thousands of people committed to making
change in this country.”

The 10,000 expected attendees are turning Atlanta into a beehive of
progressive activity as discussions, planning sessions, networking
events and film screenings take over several locations in the downtown
area. Organizers say they chose the southern city because of its
continued significance in the civil rights movement.

“The South has seen lots of repression and lots of resistance,” says
National Planning Committee member Jerome Scott.

On the way to the forum, members of YMC and PODER will join the
People’s Freedom Ride, a caravan of buses from social justice
organizations throughout the south and southwest. The “social forum
on wheels” will make stops along the way to march with local
organizations and gather information to present on behalf of those
unable to travel to Atlanta. Organizers say the caravan is in
remembrance of the original 1961 ride.

The USSF is modeled after the annual World Social Forum, which took
place in January in Kenya. Over 75,000 participants gathered in
Nairobi for the forum, held annually as an alternative to the World
Economic Forum, held in Geneva, Switzerland.

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