Indyreader Interviews Lester Spence at Occupy Schools Not Jails

Indyreader Interviews Lester Spence at Occupy Schools Not Jails

Lester Spence. (Photo: Casey McKeel)
Lester Spence. (Photo: Casey McKeel)

On Monday, Jan.19th, 2012, a.k.a - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, The Indypendent Reader caught up with Lester Spence, at the kick-off action for the Schools Not Jails five-day "pop-up" occupation.

This strung-together series of actions, dubbed Schools Not Jails, takes place at the potential location for the proposed youth jail; in an effort to reclaim the site and bring awareness to the numerous issues that its construction raises. These dilemmas include: where our public money is spent, the schools-to-prisons pipeline, and the institutionalized racism/classism that lies active in our city.

Lester Spence is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has written the book, "...  Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics... one of the first books to empirically examine the political effect of hip-hop on black communities." 1

A visible figure since the start of this past autumn's #occupy movements, Spence has written about and publically addressed many of the concerns that Occupy Baltimore has raised.

Spence spoke at the kick-off rally for Monday's demonstration. He then promptly joined in the march; and then in the action. When Indyreader engaged with him, six protestors had already been arrested for breaking into the proposed site for the youth jail and their subsequent building of a small symbolic school-like structure. Afternoon was also drifting into evening. Police forces were arming up with riot gear along the streets. And Spence and his three young children, after spending the entire day in the activist "trenches", were beginning to contemplate going home for the night.

Before they did though, Lester Spence spoke with us on a range of issues from:

  • the schools-to-prisons pipeline
  • the #occupy movement's strength in creating "innovative public demonstrations to raise awareness"
  • the importance of both: civil disobedience and direct action
  • charismatic authorities
  • the great debate surrounding the racial lines within the movement
  • the importance of the #occupy movement moving to material issues, in order to increase the scope, range, and depth of the movement
  • an appearance by a special guest

This in our discussion with Professor/Activist/Orator/Author Lester Spence.






Photo of Corey Reidy

Corey Reidy has been an Indyreader collective member since the start of 2009. And.. she adores it with all her heart. When Reidy isn't editing, writing, interviewing, or other Indyreader-centric organizing, she works to do other forms of radical activism -- including, but not limited to, organizing/being a board member of Hollaback! Baltimore. If she's not organizing, Reidy is most likely reading, biking, or practicing/studying yoga (of which she adores and will 100% go to bat to defend and promote).