By Sydney Kruljac and Jasmine Respess
API has been an important part of New College tradition since it was created in 2008. The yearly, weekend-long conference takes place in April and provides students with an opportunity to learn about leftist radical theory, connecting them with organizations across the United States. API exemplifies the creativity of students and community members coming together to implement theory and discuss practices that can be used to further successful social changes and movements. With it come zines, a communal food table, and
This year’s conference welcomed student and non-student lecturers who provided presentations and workshops on various topics such as Direct Action Tree Climbing Basics and dispelling the myths of Black Pantherism.
There were also presentations by social groups such as the Uhruru, who advocate for social change. The conference culminated with a march to Payne Park to voice attendees concerns over inequality and other social issues in the Sarasota community.
Inspired by the National Conference for Organized Resistance (NCOR), the founding students, James Birmingham (’06), Kotu Bajaj (’06) and Jaqueline Wang (’06), contacted Professor of Sociology Sarah Hernandez and eventually created a tutorial called Conference Organization. They planned for a conference that would educate others about leftist theory and ways to network in the South.
Malik Rahim, a former Minister of Defense of the New Orleans Black Panther Party, discussed common misconceptions about Black Panthers. He explained what the Panthers stood for, why they were perceived as a threat and why their example is still relevant in today’s society in an ongoing battle for environmental peace and justice.
“Your condition is far worse than mine when we started the Black Panther Party,” Rahim said. “We have the lowest government I think I have ever seen in American government […] what are you going to do 45 years from now when you get to my age, with your weapons of mass destruction that you’re going to inherit? What are you going to do with all these nuclear plants? How are you going to deal with it? How are you going to make sure there’s clean water? We are so drunk on prosperity that we believe the number one issue is employment.”
Rahim opened the eyes of New College students, encouraging them to not just sit and wait for something to happen, but to actively fight for what they believe in.
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement, led by James Simpson, discussed how white people and other allies of African liberation can organize within their communities to create support for the nationwide, black-led campaign for “Black Community Control of Police.”
“We are an organization of white people working under [the Black Socialist Party] leadership and we understand that the social wealth we experience as white people is accumulated wealth from the history of colonialism and we owe reparations to the African community and African indigenous people,” Kafira Baron of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement said. “[…] Right now in the light of Walter Scott from South Carolina, there are ongoing attacks and ongoing white nationalist attacks on the African community, and more than ever white people need to come out and say we don’t stand for this.”