9.14.2010

Speaking Tour Update #1: From New York to Massachusetts


I am on the road….a long way from home.

I noticed this morning that I had not updated my blog in almost seven days! That rarely happens but the preparation for this three week speaking tour took a lot of time.

Well, I’m back. (smile)

As you may remember, the tour that I am speaking of is the Community & Resistance Tour organized by New Orleans journalist, author and activist Jordan Flaherty. The tour seeks to connect communities of liberation, and to build relationships between grassroots activists and independent media. We did a similar tour in 2008 with other speakers.

My first stop with the tour was New York on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center. When I arrived, my beloved brother and friend Hasaun Muhammad, Brooklyn’s own, arranged to have a car service pick me up from JFK airport. (Thanks bro)





From there I went over to Bluestockings Bookstore, the place where our event would be held that night. After getting directions, I walked several blocks to New York City Hall to attend the Anti-Islamophobia Rally/March. I got a chance to meet up with veteran Final Call Staff Writer Saeed Shabazz who was covering the story for an upcoming edition of the paper.




I got a lot of shots. Saw thousands of people. And I even marched the entire time—whew!




That evening a great crowd turned out for our event at Bluestockings. The speakers included Jordan, Victoria Law, Manju Rajendran, and me.







Manju spoke about a wholistic restaurant that her family runs in North Carolina. Victoria leaned in on the plight of women in the prison system while Jordan shed light on the state of injustice in New Orleans. I spoke about the organizing model surrounding the case of The Jena Six and its impact. We then fielded questions from the audience. We got a lot of great feedback! Shout out to my Twitter friend Nicole (@Chey_Marly_mom) and her daughter for coming out to support.

For the next two days I was escorted through the city by Brother Hasaun which included a lot of subway rides and plenty of walking.






We attended a show featuring music artist Miz Metro, who is managed by Fiona Bloom. I interviewed Fiona for my blog last year and this was my first time meeting her in person. Metro is an awesome singer! I got her CD.

We had brunch with author Thembisa Mshaka. I interviewed her for my blog as well and this was our first time meeting in person. Brilliant sister and I highly recommend her book “Put Your Dreams First.”




We also had an opportunity to meet up with great journalist Sharon Carpenter, whom I haven’t seen since she interviewed me in Houston on a BET special regarding wars between Houston and New Orleans students in the wake of Katrina. Another stop we made was Hueman Books in Harlem and the Nation of Islam bookstore in Brooklyn.







Great time in NY!

On September 13, the tour hit the road to Massachusetts for our next event in South Hadley. The drive wasn’t long and the scenery was nice. I couldn’t shoot because I was either sleep or driving! Lol.

The event was held at Mary Woolley Hall on the campus of Mount Holyoke College, a highly selective, nondenominational, residential, research liberal arts college for women. 



Our event was sponsored by the African-American Studies Department, a student organizing group and Odyssey Bookshop, which has been in existence since 1963. The bookshop is run by Joan Grenier, whose late father founded it. (Thanks to her and her revolutionary husband for being my gracious hosts)







The event last night was another great success and we’ve met a lot of great people thus far.

Next stop: The neighboring Amherst, Massachusetts. We speak tonight at the Stirn Auditorium at Amherst College.

Know anyone there? I don’t….well, not yet.

Friendships in all walks of life.

More updates coming soon.

(You're welcome to follow Brother Jesse Muhammad further on Twitter, become a friend on Facebook, or visit his award-winning site Brother Jesse Blog)