Tag Archives: activists

Building understanding one book at a time

24 Oct

Back in 2009, oral historian Anne Marie Pois interviewed three of the founders of Reading to End Racism (RER), a non-profit group in Boulder County that sends trained readers into the schools to read specially chosen books to students that stimulate conversations about discrimination and overcoming it. 

This week we release “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time,” an “MROHP Short” produced by Jenna Woods, that distills that interview into an engaging and inspiring introduction to the program.

This video features founders Ghada Elturk, Jean Gore, and Daniel Escalante talking about efforts to make Boulder “a racism-free zone,” experiences in their own lives that sensitized them to issues of racism, what it means to become an ally of those who experience discrimination, and how RER creates change through its effect on both readers and students.

As Daniel Escalante says,

It’s through stories that we can begin to learn about each other, understand each other, begin to have compassion for each other. It’s hard to discriminate against somebody that you care about.

Watch “Reading to End Racism: Building understanding one book at a time” here or on YouTube.

Not Playing Bridge and Eating Bonbons

21 Jul

WHY DID SHE DO IT? Why did Sue Anderson join the League of Women Voters decades ago when her children were young and she had that “I’ve got to get out of the house!” feeling? She did it because:

“It wasn’t playing bridge and eating bonbons.”

In this series of video excerpts from her oral history interview, which was conducted by historian Anne Marie Pois, Anderson describes her journey from political innocent, intimidated by her first League meeting, to becoming president of  League chapters in both Virginia and Colorado. As do many women, she learned political skills and personal confidence from her work with the League. She became a person who could wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for governmental reform and then shepherd that idea to an electoral win with 60 percent of the vote.

In this video, Anderson also gives insight into the structure of the League and is candid about challenges now facing the organization.

People who know Sue Anderson tell her she should run for elected office, and she says, “No, thanks!” Watch the video and learn why.

The Man They Said They’d Never Free

13 Jan

By Brandon Springer

Bill Cohen and Naum Meiman, 1988

IN SEPTEMBER OF 1946, Soviet Jewish mathematician Naum Meiman was parted from his family. His daughter, Olga Plam; her husband, Misha; and their son were leaving the Soviet Union for the United States after spending a year as refuseniks, Soviet Jews who had applied for exit visas from the state and were denied repeatedly.

 Meiman would spend thirteen more years as a human rights activist fighting for his release and for the release of other Soviet Jews who desired and were denied the right to emigrate. He lived through severe repression from the Soviet state, isolation and loneliness. But through all of those years, his daughter, and later other Boulder residents who had formed the advocacy and resettlement organization Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry (BASJ), fought tirelessly on his behalf.

Listen to a podcast about “The Man They Said They’d Never Free.”

Continue reading

Video: Alternatives to Violence

20 Dec

“ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE CONTINUE TO BE MY LIFE’S WORK,” says Jean Gore, who on December 11, 2010, was the recipient of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s award for “Lifetime Commitment for Peace and Justice.”

Born in 1925, Jean Gore says that trying to make things better in the world has been a way of life for her.  In particular, she has spent much of her life trying to create a culture of peace internationally–through work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom; Peace Brigades in Central America; and the Reading to End Racism program in Boulder; to name just a few of her dozens of involvements over many decades.

Earlier this year, Ms. Gore created a short video with students in Kayann Short’s “Activist Archive Digital Storytelling Project,” a service learning project for Dr. Kayann Short’s course, “Innovative Approaches to Contemporary Issues through Service.”  You can view the video, “Alternatives to Violence,” here or on the Boulder Library’s YouTube channel.

The oral history program also has four interviews with Ms. Gore in our oral history digital archive.

Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry: The Beginning

9 Nov

By Brandon Springer

AS THE SOVIET UNION BEGAN TO CRUMBLE in the late 1980s, a group of Jews in Boulder organized to aid and resettle Soviet Jews who faced increasing discrimination from the Soviet state and refusal of their requests to emigrate (earning them the label of “refuseniks”). These Jewish Boulderites called themselves Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry.

Listen to the first in a series of podcasts about the history of Boulder Action for Soviet Jewry.

Over the past year, interns and students from the University of Colorado, along with volunteers from the Maria Rogers Oral History Program, collected interviews with volunteers and organizers for BASJ as well as with new Americans resettled by the organization. Nearly 20 interviews have been conducted with these individuals.

Judge Murray Richtel during a trip to the former Soviet Union

The interviews ranged from the original founders of BASJ—attorneys Bill and Sara-Jane Cohen and Judge Murray Richtel—to some of the first board members; from families that served as “anchor families” to Soviet émigrés (providing them with guidance and advice on adapting to American culture and life) to professional and volunteer ESL tutors who taught English to the new Americans. In addition, of course, many of the interviews documented the lives of the Soviet Jewish émigrés themselves. Continue reading

The Gift of Nonviolence

17 May

LAST WEEK, our oral history program was fortunate enough to receive a donation of three videos that use techniques pioneered by the Center for Digital Storytelling to create a visually dynamic, emotionally engaging way to share personal stories.

This week, we’d like to share with you the first of those digital storytelling videos. “The Gift of Nonviolence” is Dr. LeRoy Moore’s moving account of how an abusive childhood taught him an important lesson about nonviolence, which later shaped his career. Dr. Moore went on to teach courses in nonviolent social change at the University of Colorado and used nonviolence to work for the closure and cleanup of the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant.

To create this video, Dr. Moore worked with students of Dr. Kayann Short’s class “Innovative Approaches to Contemporary Issues through Service.”  This video is archived on The Memory Box Project site online (www.colorado.edu/memorybox) and at the Boulder Library’s Carnegie Branch Library for Local History. The Boulder Library will be exploring more uses of Digital Storytelling in the coming year.

To hear longer interviews with Dr. Moore and many others about Rocky Flats, visit www.boulderlibrary.org/oralhistory.

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