Under the Tree: A Seminar on Freedom

First 6 episodes of this PODCAST available now:

  1. Let’s Talk About Freedom

This inaugural episode dives directly into the wreckage: What do we talk about when we talk about freedom? “Under the Tree” references the Freedom Schools created in Mississippi and throughout the South during the Black Freedom Movement of the 1950s and 1960’s—fugitive spaces where folks gathered to organize an insurgency against Jim Crow and white supremacy. We begin our ongoing reflection on the challenge, the demand, and the meaning of freedom, and then we’re joined by Chesa Boudin, long-time public defender and recently elected District Attorney of San Francisco.

2) We Are Each Other’s Magnitude and Bond

Freedom is a layered, complex, and dynamic concept that defies a Webster’s Dictionary-type definition, and so we continue to explore the meaning of freedom, and we follow it as it makes its twisty way through our lives and our consciousness. We’re joined by Crystal Laura, author of Being Bad: My Baby Brother and the School to Prison Pipeline, and we explore in detail how educators can disrupt the march toward mass incarceration by deploying a pedagogy of joy, love, and justice.

3) In Your Dream of Dreams, What Would Schools for Free People Look Like?

Schools are both window and mirror into any society: authoritarian schools serve repressive regimes; segregated schools mirror  severed societies; a free society builds schools anchored in enlightenment and liberation. David Omotoso Stovall lights up this episode with a conversation about the school to prison nexus, and the provocative possibility that the call for prison abolition link up with a demand to abolish the schools we have in favor of an education for freedom. Professor Stovall is an activist, a scholar, and the author or editor of several texts, including Born Out of Struggle: Critical Race Theory, School Creation, and the Politics of Interruption; From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline; Handbook of Social Justice in Education; Black, Brown, Bruised: How Racialized STEM Education Stifles Innovation; Teaching Toward Democracy; and Twenty-First-Century Jim Crow Schools: The Impact of Charters on Public Education.

4) Imagine the Angels of Bread.

When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which way she ought to go, the Cat responds, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” Alice says she doesn’t much care where she goes, to which the Cat says, “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.” We spend this episode exploring our radical dreams, and imagining where we’d like to go, accompanied by the radical poet, Martin Espada, and legendary activist, Bernardine Dohrn.

5) Defund the Police

Malik Alim and Bill Ayers open with a spirited dialogue on the link between defunding the police, abolition, and a vision of a society free of prisons and armed agents of the state. We then turn to a conversation with Alec Karakatsanis, author of Usual Cruelty a powerful unmasking and reframing of the myths of “the rule of law” and “law enforcement.”

6) Where in the World Are We?

Americans are known across the globe for a singular lack of knowledge about who we are and where we’re located; we collectively have a thin knowledge of both history and geography. Making up less than 5% of the world’s people, we tend toward an exaggerated and narcissistic sense of our place in the larger scheme of things. In this episode we take a closer look at the link between freedom and patriotism, and note the retarding quality of an anemic flag-waving nationalistic loyalty. We’re joined by Prexy Nesbitt, a spirited internationalist and freedom fighter whose efforts over many decades have focused on labor and human rights, Black Freedom and the liberation of Southern Africa.

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