Programs: Democracy from Below Speaker Series

The Onyx Foundation paused its programming in 2010, but aims to resume its public engagement efforts soon. Please see a record of our past efforts below.

The Onyx Foundation is committed to supporting community activists, educators, and professionals dedicated to transforming their neighborhoods, workplaces and schools through education, assistance, and service. We believe lectures and teaching engagements are instrumental in coalescing ideas related to democratic governance through community self-management of economic, social, cultural, and judicial affairs.

With this in mind, the Onyx Foundation has embarked on a speaker series gathering individuals of diverse backgrounds to share their philosophy and experiences. Themes will include community organizing, historical events, schools of thought, and workplace struggles that are democratic in nature. Invited speakers bring experience in numerous areas including race relations on a global level, issues of ecology and health, building international alliances between communities of faith, and involvement in movements for national liberation in Africa and the Caribbean.

The lecture series is ongoing, taking place in community centers, libraries, and colleges and universities in cities throughout the country. Each event will be open to the general public, and will be of particular interest to teachers, community organizers, scholars, and workers; young and old alike.

Struggles from Below for Housing and Public Services in South Africa

With Ashraf Cassiem, chairperson, Western Cape (South Africa) Anti-Eviction Campaign

Radio Interview live on Piratecat Radio broadcast Friday, November 13, 2009
Ashraf Cassiem on Piratecat Radio (2 hour interview)

Radio Interview on KPFA program Against The Grain broadcast November, 25, 2009
Ashraf Cassiem on KPFA (1 hour interview)

Saturday, November 14, 2009
Niebyl-Proctor Library
6501 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

Friday, November 13, 2009
652 Barrows Hall
UC Berkeley Campus

South Africa will be on the global stage as host of the 2010 World Cup. Yet, with one of the world’s highest rates of economic inequality and social protest, it is likely that the country’s glaring contradictions and its militant poor, perhaps more so than the “beautiful game,” will be center stage next summer.

For the past nine years, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign has been one of the most prominent organizations of those militant poor, fighting against evictions and police brutality as well as for free basic service and quality health care in South Africa’s poor and working class communities. As a coordinating body of over 15 community organizations in the Western Cape Province, the AEC has been at the forefront of challenging the neoliberal economic policies have been imposed since the fall of apartheid, recently helping to found the Poor People’s Alliance as a national network of South African poor people’s movements.

Please join us for discussion and solidarity with Ashaf Cassiem, the chairman of the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, as he calls attention to the problem facing South Africa’s poor and draws connections between the struggles being waged in his country and those now being taken up here in the midst of the Great Recession.

“As coordinators of the anti-eviction campaign, we are not leaders in the traditional authoritarian sense. Instead, we are like a set of cutlery. We are the tools that are there to be used by poor communities fighting against the cruel and oppressive conditions of South African society. Power to the poor people!”

Sponsored by The Onyx Foundation

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Local & Global Women’s Struggles for Democracy

The Onyx Foundation is pleased to co-sponsor two lectures by path-breaking Feminist Movement theorists and activists Selma James and Andaiye. Activists and authors Selma James and Andaiye tour the United States to mark the 35th anniversary of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, which Selma James founded. It has been organized in response to requests from anti-sexist, anti-racist and anti-war women as well as men in North America who want to hear them and meet with them. Andaiye, co-founder of the women’s organization Red Thread, and co-founder of the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) in Guyana, will join Ms. James starting November 14th.

Selma James
Detroit Lecture
Thursday, November 15, 6pm
University of Michigan-Dearborn

“Feminism & Patriarchy and Wages for Housework”

1030 CASL Annex Bldg
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, Michigan 48128

Selma James and Andaiye
Atlanta Lecture
Sunday, November 25, 11:45am
Atlanta Friends Meeting House

Keynote Address to “Forum on Women’s Human Rights and International Feminist Movements”

701 West Howard Avenue
Decatur, Georgia
afmquakers [at] or

About Selma James:

Selma James, movement strategist and lifelong campaigner for women’s rights and anti-racism, will embark on a North American speaking tour in November to mark the 35th anniversary of the International Wages for Housework Campaign which she founded in 1972. James–who was for many years the colleague and wife of influential Marxist organizer, historian and critic CLR James–currently coordinates the Global Women’s Strike, and works closely with grassroots women in the Venezuelan Revolution. She will be speaking on a range of topics to universities, community groups and churches in Arcata CA, Atlanta, Detroit, Flagstaff, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland OR, San Francisco, Western MA and Toronto, Canada.

James is known as a dynamic speaker who impresses audiences with the depth of her understanding and the scope of her interests. Since she wrote the classic “A Woman’s Place” in 1952 as part of C.L.R. James’s Johnson-Forest Tendency, to the early 1970s with the publication of The Power of Women and Subversion of the Community when she spelled out how the function of domestic or “caring” work is basic to creation of the world’s labor force and the perpetuation of the market economy, to 2006 when she introduced Creating a Caring Economy: Nora Castañeda and the Women’s Development Bank of Venezuela, James has broken new ground for the movement for change–from the bottom up, beginning with women.

Since 2000, the Global Women’s Strike has called for an annual general strike of women on March 8, International Women’s Day, under the banner “Invest in Caring Not Killing” with participation in 60 countries. “It is not enough to demand the end of the war,” explained James. “We must demand the end of military budgets, which ensure death and destruction, including by depriving us of our most basic needs–clean water for a start. We want that money invested in caring. Then we will be sure the killing will stop. Investing in caring begins with investing in women. It is mainly our work that keeps the human race alive, and human!”

When James launched the Campaign in 1972 to demand wages for housework from governments, a raging debate followed about whether caring full-time was “work” or a “role”–and whether it should be compensated with a wage. Now, after decades of women demanding payment and pensions for work at home and taking their case to the UN where governments agreed to measure and value unwaged work, the movement of caregivers is busting out all over. Women in Venezuela won Articles 87 & 88 in their Constitution*, there is legislation in Trinidad & Tobago, and time use surveys and other research are underway in many countries. James says today: “We must work to reduce women’s horrendous workload. But we don’t want those we care for to be neglected and dissed as a result. Too many of us are forced to dump our kids in any affordable childcare in order to go out to (low paid) work so we can feed them. What a choice: care or food! Well we all, at every age, need both. We, women and men, must have time to care. Pay us for caring and we’ll be able to manage our time and our relationships.”

About Andaiye:

Co-founder and international coordinator of Red Thread (RT) in Guyana. RT began as a self-help income-generating group bringing low-income women together across violent racial divides. It has always given a voice to all grassroots women: Indo- and Afro-Guyanese as well as Indigenous. Andaiye is the author of The Valuing of Unwaged Work, an analysis of the cost to women in the Caribbean of structural adjustment policies. She represented CARICOM at the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995, leading the negotiations which resulted in the agreement among governments, including the U.S. government, to measure and value unwaged work. In 1979, she was also a founding members and leader of the Working People’s Alliance of Guyana along with historian Walter Rodney, author of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.

Two Lectures in Trinidad on American Civilization

“Imperialism and United States Labour Today” and”South Asian Radicalism in the United States”

Morton House
Cochrane Street (near to Aramalaya Presbyterian Church)
Tunapuna, Trinidad

Saturday, January 6, 2007

For more information

From Black Power to Tanzania: C.L.R. James’ Second American Sojourn

Auburn Avenue Research Library
(corner of Auburn Ave & Courtland St. NE in Atlanta)
4th Floor Auditorium
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
7pm to 9pm

C.L.R. James (1901-1989), native of Trinidad, is perhaps the most revolutionary thinker of both the Pan-African and international labor movements. An underground man of the American socialist movement in the Age of the CIO (1938-1953), he returned to the United States as a mentor and colleague of the Black Power and Black Studies movements (1967-1979). Engaged with young people with experience in Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, Revolutionary Action Movement, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers; he was instrumental in organizing the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania in 1974. This lecture will discuss his influence and linkages in an activist nexus from the Washington, D.C. to the Detroit Metro areas.

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