San Diego State University-California State University. Master of Education.
People’s Assembly New Orleans
Currently nearly every modern democracy has an active branch of the People’s Assembly as does every major city in America. A long-time organizer, Suber is widely known as a driving force behind protests advancing a progressive liberal agenda in New Orleans. Kinlaw is an educator, a California native who migrated to New Orleans in 2006.
According to Suber, “The People’s Assembly in New Orleans is our attempt to build a grassroots, working-class organization of, by and for the working people of this city. It is important that we wake what I call the sleeping giant, the black community, to recognize that with our numbers if we were properly organized and understood our power we could control this city. We are trying to expose to the people that the priorities now followed by the rich ruling class and their lackeys are not the priorities that we as working people would pursue if we were in control. So we are asking people to join with us. Let’s take control as we improve our city.”
Together, Suber and Kinlaw lead a strong and diverse coalition of over 350 community activists, many of them leaders of additional activist groups. They meet for educational outreach sessions designed to make them better organizers. Monthly sessions feature entertaining and enlightening speakers on a wide range topics, such as effective communication and struggle.
In May 2017, an equestrian statue of the Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard was also pulled down by authorities. Along with the removal of a monument to the Battle of Liberty Place, which commemorated a Reconstruction-era insurrection by white supremacists, three of a planned four monuments have been taken down. At the forefront of the effort to have the statues removed is a group of young, black activists known as Take ‘em Down NOLA.
Michael “Quess” Moore, an educator, poet, and playwright, has become one of the faces of this movement. When he moved to New Orleans, Moore, originally from Brooklyn, attended a lecture by two black New Orleans historians, Malcolm Suber and Leon Waters, to whom he attributes the development of much of his political education. Suber and Waters, who run a tour in New Orleans called “Hidden Histories,” have made it their mission to bring to light the parts of black history in the Crescent City that you won’t find in your typical textbook.
“Malcolm and Leon had this kind of pedagogy that was integrated into organizing work and a Marxist/Leninist framework … then taking that and integrating it with black history and what it meant for black people to live under systemic oppression,” Moore says, shaking his head as if he should have made the connection himself long ago. He says they pointed to those monuments of Davis and others and told him, “‘Okay, this shows you what the state thinks about you; this shows you what the state thinks about the system that oppressed your ancestors and how they still feel about it to this day.’” He pauses and raises his hands on either side of him. “Long story short, it just all clicked for me.”
Moore is far from alone in this sentiment. For Angela Kinlaw, a co-founder of the organization who works as an educator in New Orleans, the relationship between the monuments and an enduring racism is clear. “Symbols are used to bond people around cultural values, ideas, political ideologies, and those ideas show up in systems that are protected by the state,” she told me early one morning before attending the graduation ceremony for her students. “When we look at our environment and we see that all of the major street names, all of the most revered monuments, all the parks that these kids and families are playing in … All of this stuff is messaging, all of this stuff is psychological, all of this stuff has an impact.”
- [https://newrepublic.com/article/142757/young-black-activists-targeting-new-orleanss-confederate-monuments The New republic The Young Black Activists Targeting New Orleans’s Confederate Monuments, BY CLINT SMITH May 18, 2017]