Event organizer

Tongo is a full-time organizer at busy Parker Elementary School

Tongo Eisen Martin

SF Poet Laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin talks about life as a full-time organizer with Community Occupation at Parker Elementary School in East Oakland

by People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Office

The community occupation of Parker Elementary School, which has been going on since late May, was a brave act to prevent the Oakland Unified School District from closing the East Oakland school, which sits on a small hill overlooking the MacArthur’s band. In early July, the school board took another vote on school closure, where the community was again outvoted by politicians who put the interests of developers and charter schools above. above the interests of blacks, maroons and the Pacific. Island students who live near the school.

Tongo Eisen-Martin, the Poet Laureate of San Francisco, was one of the original and primary organizers who kept the Oakland school occupied around the clock. sit down with him to discuss some of the looming questions facing supporters of the occupation as well as people who live in the surrounding community.

We talked about his reason for being involved, as well as what really happens and happened at the community-occupied school. He also gives his opinion on why he thinks the use of the communal occupation tactic was necessary. Tongo has a very sharp mind with big ideas which he, his comrades and the supporters organize to implement. Check it out.

JR Valrey: What inspired you to become personally involved in the community occupation of Parker Elementary in East Oakland? How long have you been involved?

Tongo Eisen Martin: I became involved with Parker as soon as I heard that the mothers and students had decided that instead of accepting the further destruction and destabilization of people’s cultural life by school closures, they were going to at stake in an act of direct resistance and self-determination. It was the first night of liberation and I have been with them ever since.

JR Valrey: What has happened inside Parker since the community takeover/occupation of the school?

Tongo Eisen Martin: We basically provided education for youth and adults, kept the school running while running political education classes for adults, survival programs like free food and clothing, movement training as well as cultural events.

JR Valrey: Why was the community occupancy tactic necessary at this point in the campaign to keep Parker and other Oakland schools open in black and brown communities?

Tongo Eisen Martin: We believe it was necessary because Oakland, and indeed the Bay Area in general, with the successful ethnic cleansing of blacks and browns from its municipalities, has become increasingly institutionally hostile towards us. We don’t have the numbers to keep them under electoral control.

The powers that be view all of these endeavors sociopathically.

At best, some of us have extorted some neocolonial power in our home colonies to do a bit of bargaining. But ultimately we are too few and too destabilized to even be taken seriously by their politicians. Please believe that all other avenues to demand that schools not be closed have been exhausted, including a hunger strike in which people seriously injured their bodies in protest.

The powers that be view all of these endeavors sociopathically. You can actually expect even more hostility from Bay Area governance in the near future. And so it’s time for us to shift our organizing efforts to more efforts to take the liberated territory ourselves and not wait for the benevolence or awareness that the system has long shown it never had. .

JR Valrey: What kind of jobs have you had in the community occupation campaign? Can you talk about what you’re doing with the political education class at Parker and why you think it’s necessary?

Tongo Eisen Martin: I led political education classes for a program we called Solidarity Sundays. Every Sunday we do a combination of political education and training. Our main focus now is current events – the current state of geopolitical events, to get a sense of the macro picture that creates the conditions in which we are fighting so that we, in turn, can synthesize the correct political strategy for the struggle revolutionary.

JR Valrey: How has the community reacted to Parker’s communal occupation so far?

Tongo Eisen Martin: The community has supported the campaign from day one. We always provide educational programs for their children. But even small acts that showed they were in the spirit of the resistance were important for morale, especially in the opening phase of the liberation.

Every Sunday we do a combination of political education and training.

In the beginning, we had a lot of people stationed outside the school 24 hours a day. Small acts like them bringing us water and food went a long way in keeping this most exhausting phase going.

JR Valrey: What are the organizers’ plans for community occupancy of Parker when school starts in less than two weeks?

Tongo Eisen Martin: We are looking at different models for running programming for release once school starts. There will always be a mix of youth and adult programs. We will just have to readjust the schedule to match the new conditions. But the goal is to remain structurally fluid.

JR Valrey: What do you think of the person who was appointed to the school board to replace the member of the school board who resigned recently? What do you think of Azlinah, one of the founders of Community Occupation Parker, who might run for that seat in the upcoming November election if she applies?

Tongo Eisen Martin: I don’t really know the person who was named, but I hear that she is just another henchman for the ruling class agenda. I think Azlinah is a good leader in general (regardless of what position she gets her hands on) in that she synthesizes her actions from a position of people’s needs and never loses that mass connection.

JR Valrey: What types of hardware support do you need from Parker?

Tongo Eisen Martin: The priority is mass participation. We want people to know that this is your place to put your revolutionary ideas into practice. We are looking for more people who would like to facilitate their own programming and use the place as a meeting space to organize town halls, organize cultural events – and of course come and participate in the programming we have going on. It was always meant to be an exercise in the growing imagination and consciousness of the masses, not just the instincts of a few people.

JR Valrey: How could people stay informed about what is happening with the community occupancy of Parker Elementary in East Oakland?

Tongo Eisen Martin: Parkercommunityschool.com

Twitter: @saveparker510

Eng: @save.parker.school

JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of New World Black Media, heads the Oakland office of SF Bay View. He can be attached to [email protected] or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to know more.