I know I’m asking to be ignored with a non-Super Tuesday post on the largest primary day in US history. But there’s more to politics than elections and no matter who occupies the White House for the next four years, any progressive legislation will need a major push from below to succeed.
One of the best things about the current election is that the unprecedented involvement by young people in both organizing and voting has put to rest, hopefully for good, the old canard that young people are apathetic.
The emergence of alternative spring breaks are a good example of the engagement of today’s students. There’s nothing wrong with partying at the beach but Alt Spring Breaks offer something more meaningful to do during a week off from classes than hanging out, jetting off to a resort or catching up on school work.
Taking place in Austin, Texas from March 10 to 14, the 2008 Anti-Death Penalty Spring Break, organized by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty and co-sponsored by Campus Progress, Amnesty International and Texas Moratorium Network, among numerous other good groups, will draw national attention to the continued use of capital punishment in the US. The specific purpose of this Alternative Spring Break is to bring students to Austin for five days of anti-death penalty activism, education and entertainment.
Why Texas? The Lone Star State leads the nation by far in number of executions. Texas performed twenty-six executions in the US in 2007–a full 62 percent of all the executions in the country. Since the US Supreme Court ruling in 1976 that allowed executions to resume after a four-year period during which they were considered unconstitutional, there have been 1099 executions in the United States. Texas has performed 405 of those executions, which amounts to about 37 percent of the national total despite possessing about 7.4 percent of the nation’s population.
Participants will gain training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, direct actions and media relations. During the week, students will put what they learn into action for activities such as a Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day and a Direct Action Day. There will be opportunities to write press releases, speak publicly, meet with legislators and aides, and conceive and carry anti-death penalty actions.
Perhaps the most brilliant move of all was planning these protest activities to coincide with Austin’s legendary South By Southwest Music Festival. SXSW is one of the many reasons that Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the World. The Alt Spring Break activities will leave lots of time to see the shows. And don’t think this activist version of spring break will forgo the glitz–the events from Austin will be featured on an MTV show featuring alternatives to beer and beaches.
Click here for info on the activities, subsidized housing and transportation and to register for the week. It’s entirely free of charge. If you’re not a student you can help make it possible for more activists to participate by donating to Texas Students Against the Death Penalty.
Since it is Super Tuesday and virtually all Nation bloggers have weighed in on their primary choice, I thought, for the few who are interested, that I might as well join my colleagues in publicly announcing that I also voted for Obama today. Between him and Hillary I thought it was a no-brainer.