Saturday 22 February 2014

Music for Organising!

I feel like I've completed my quota of exercise for the day after dancing around for half an hour to Which Side Are You On? by Rebel Diaz whilst carrying both kids.  Maybe not everyone's idea of the perfect Saturday morning activity but the sheer joy on their faces shows the power of music to inspire.

So why not bring more of this into our organising?

I first came across Rebel Diaz when I saw the YouTube video of Chicago Teacher, published on 12th September 2012 in support of the Chicago Teacher Union strike.  This was an innovative campaign that involved much more than strike action (like the Stand Up for Education campaign launched by the NUT) and made a real connection with parents and local communities.  This interview with Karen Lewis for Rethinking Schools outlines some of the lessons which can be learned from the CTU experience.

The CTU are not the only union to have had a song recorded in solidarity.  If hip-hop's not really your thing, why not try Union Made recorded by Gary Kaye and a number of other artists in solidarity with the NUT and RMT unions.  The link above goes to Gary Kaye's YouTube version but the official recording, with artists including Gary Kaye, Alun Parry, Tracy Curtis and Attila the Stockbroker is available for download here.

Of course, both songs are covers/reworkings of original folk songs - Which Side Are You On? by Florence Reece, covered by Pete Seeger amongst others, and Union Maid by Woodie Guthrie, again sung here by Pete Seeger.  The latter is also the name of a fascinating documentary film presenting the oral history of three women organisers in the US in the 1930s.

Going back to the hip-hop theme, why not check out Captain Ska who have made a number of protest tracks, including Liar, Liar and What's the Point of Nick Clegg? (another two of my 3-year-old's favourites!).

There are loads of really good short tracks and film clips out there which communicate a vital message of resistance to oppression.

So, next time you're planning a campaign meeting, why not open (or close) it with 5 minutes of music or video and use the inspirational power of music to help build a better society.

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