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By Leah Penniman
March 27th, 2015
In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes.
“I basically expected it to be like slavery, but it would be better than jail,” said a young man named Asan. “It was different though. We got paid and we got to bring food home. The farmers there are black like us, which I did not expect.
By Carol Schachet
March 16th, 2015
Jean Hardisty, a gentle and fierce leader in the movement for women’s and civil rights, has died. A former member of Grassroots International's Board of Directors and part of the Advisory Board, Jean founded Political Research Associates, a Boston-based research center that analyzes right wing, authoritarian, and anti-democratic trends and publishes educational materials for the general public. Her death comes after a many-year struggle with cancer.
In the United States we’ve spent months zeroing in on the reality of police brutality against Black people. We’ve been grateful to see and take part in a growing movement that addresses structural racism—pointing out that Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police, face institutional racism, and breathe more polluted air.
In the Black nation of Haiti, too, there has been a systematic dismissal of the value of Black lives and US policy has been deeply implicated in interventions that slaughter the interests of Haiti’s people in favor of a narrow elite.
The toxic oil spill in eastern Montana oozed onto the land of one of Grassroots International’s partners and a fierce voice for food sovereignty and environmental justice. Now her denunciations of the gluttonous crude industry and on behalf of small farmers and the environment are reaching far and wide, but at a terrible price.
Grassroots International and our global partners are leading the way in developing sustainable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our world. From farming cooperatives and seed banks, to passing laws that protect ancestral lands and defending the human right to land, water, and food, together we take on big struggles and win important gains. Below are just some of the successes achieved in 2014 with support from Grassroots International, standing up to challenge poverty, climate disruption and human rights abuses.
Moving Towards an International Declaration on the Rights of Peasants
On this International Migrants Day (December 18), Grassroots International pays tribute to the courage and dedication of many of our partners and allies, internationally and in the U.S., who are working at the intersection of migrant justice and resource rights. One of these partners is Carlos Marentes, Sr., director of Centro De Los Trabajadores Agrícolas Fronterizos (the Border Agricultural Workers Center) in El Paso, Texas. A close Grassroots International partner and co-coordinator of Via Campesina North America.
10 Photos for International Human Rights Day: A Tribute to International Social Movements for Resource Rights
December 10 is celebrated around the world as International Human Rights Day. On this day, Grassroots International is honored to call special attention to the social movements that are on the frontlines of the struggle for resource rights – the human rights to land and water, as well as food sovereignty and climate justice. We have much to celebrate, with several major successes that social movements have achieved in the struggle for resource rights over recent years. At the same time, over the past year, we have been heartbroken as we’ve lost many people who have been courageously defending resource in each of Grassroots International’s program areas. The photos and stories below are just a small sample of some of these movements and human rights defenders.
I joined the chants of “Black Lives Matter” last night, together with other staff of Grassroots International and several thousand other Bostonians, marching to the steps of the State House. This was my first demonstration since I came onboard as Executive Director of Grassroots International (two days ago!) and solidified the local-global links that are so central to this work.
For me, and for so many others who care about human rights and social justice, the issue goes far beyond Michael Brown or Eric Garner or a litany of other names on a case-by-case basis. The issue is the systemic devaluing of some lives and the protection of others in such a way that benefits some and subjugates others.
Ali Abd El Rahman has been in the United States for only a few days, but it’s the longest he’s ever lived without having to go through a military checkpoint.
El Rahman lives in Jerusalem, and as a Palestinian, his actions, resource use, transportation, and work are under Israeli government control. He doesn’t even have a legal passport; the Israeli government issues Jerusalem Palestinians travel documents that require a lot of explanation when he attempts to cross international borders.
Miriam Miranda’s journey from Honduras for the People’s Climate Justice Summit put her on the podium in front of thousands of people in New York this weekend. A leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH, a Grassroots International partner), Miriam and her community have been on the front lines of work for climate justice. She boldly told the crowd, “We cannot accept nor perpetuate this supposed development which does not take into account or respect nature and the earth’s natural resources… We should and must have the obligation to leave water, air, food and secure the safety for our sons and daughters and other living things.”