Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Archives

    Teach-in backs new Poor People’s Campaign

    by Sarah Carpenter

    Rev. Edward Pinkney tells his story at the Laney College teach-in on Februay 21 in the Forum. Pinkney was wrongfully imprisoned for 11 months after his efforts to recall Benton Harbor, Mich. Mayor James Hightower in October 2013. (Photo by Sarah Carpenter)

    Laney College has become a regular host of the teach-in for social justice. A “teach-in” is an informal lecture or discussion on an issue of public interest.

    The latest in the series of teach-ins at Laney featured the Rev. Edward Pinkney from Benton Harbor, Mich. to tell his story in the Laney Forum on Feb. 21. His message was that in order to enact change, we need to “stop finding reasons you can’t work with someone, and start finding the reasons you can.”

    Pinkney was wrongfully accused of altering the date on a petition to recall Benton Harbor Mayor James Hightower, in Oct. 2013. Pinkney and other residents believed Hightower protected the interests of the manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, Whirlpool, which is headquartered in Benton Harbor, a city with a population that is over 90 percent African-American. 
    Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for felony forgery. There was no evidence to convict him.

    His story mirrored the title of the teach-in: “Fighting Corporate Power: Defending Our Democracy & Envisioning a New America.”

    Although Pinkney spent 11 months incarcerated for his activism, his spirit for revolution was not defeated. He told Laney students and faculty about how he organized prisoners across racial lines to successfully protest the foul-smelling “buck-naked fish” on the prison menu.

    After Pinkney told his story, students and faculty at Laney spoke about various insecurities: food, housing, income, and the vulnerabilities that come with being an immigrant or being a previously incarcerated student — all problems with which the speakers (Laney students and faculty) had first-hand experience.

    PFT Part-Time Faculty Representative Brad Balukjian delivered a revelation to many of the students present: according to a survey he conducted, many of Peralta’s part-time faculty members are surviving off welfare, and are both income and housing insecure. About two thirds of Peralta’s faculty are part-timers.

    “You as students have a lot more in common with the people teaching you than you might realize,” he said.

    Dr. Kimberly King, a psychology instructor at Laney, showed a video of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking about the “Poor People’s Campaign.” The last few years of Dr. King, Jr.’s life were dedicated to ending poverty, and recognizing corporate threats to democracy.

    Dr. Kimberly King invited those in attendance to the next part of the event: the Poor People’s Campaign Planning Meeting, where they could discuss ideas for the future.

    The Teach-In Planning Committee will meet next week to strategize ways to connect with the 2018 “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” led by Rev. William J. Barber II and Rev. Liz Theoharis.


    Sarah Carpenter is co-editor-in-chief of the Laney Tower.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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