I follow Facebook pages for Red Emma’s and Sister Teresa Forcades and was so excited to read their recent joint posting:
Teresa Forcades, radical feminist nun, anti-austerity organizer, and advocate for an autonomous Catalonia
speaking at Red Emma’s the very next day. While I was in Barcelona, Spain, I attended an event, Women, Spirituality and Social Change, and met Sister Teresa (see post here), so to have an opportunity to see her again right in our neighborhood of the world, I wasted no time getting train tickets my son John, who writes for The Industrial Worker, and me to travel to Baltimore.
Emma Goldman: Courageous Advocate for Worker Rights
Red Emma’s, a worker cooperative started in 2004, supports a bookstore, restaurant and community space and is “dedicated to putting principles of solidarity and sustainability into practice in a democratic workplace.” The namesake of the cooperative, Emma Goldman, a political activist known for her promotion of anarchism, is another woman I admire for her progressive views on women’s rights, prison reform, racial equality and right to organize our workplaces. Anarcho-syndicalism best explains my political philosophy where worker solidarity, direct action and worker self-management form the basis for encouraging workers to free themselves from the hierarchical systems of bosses and managers.
Several years ago, John, along with fellow members of the I.W.W., paid a pilgrimage to Emma’s final resting place, Forest Home Cemetery, in Forest Park, a suburb of Chicago. Emma had been deported years before her passing, but officials of the immigration office allowed her burial on U.S. soil. Other activists are buried nearby, so she’s in good company.
Teresa Forcades: A Crusader against Austerity and Leader of Protest Movements in Spain
Teresa Forcades launched a political manifesto to counter austerity measures by the Spanish government. The document calls for an independent Catalonia to carry out a more democratic and progressive agenda, including nationalizing banks and energy corporations and advocating for participatory democracy, ecological restructuring, and decent wages and pensions. Any progressive could support the reforms in this remarkable document.
The program began when Professor Navarro from Johns Hopkins University introduced Teresa to the gathering. Teresa discussed many of the points in the Manifesto and the “Indignados” movement in Catalonia and Europe.
Teresa emphasized four principles necessary for success in making social change.
1. Reactivation from below. Change has to be brought about from the bottom up.
2. Avoid centralized leadership and control. People should not look for a savior. They must work together to foster diversity and unity without uniformity.
3. Stress the urgency. A large percentage of the populations lives in poverty (30% in Catalonia) and a significant number are living at the misery line (12% in Catalonia). The misery line represents the threshold of not even enough money to buy food and shelter.
4. Engage in revolution and do it again. The revolution is not over with a few reforms. Citizens must take part in decision-making. The constitution should be an evolving document as changes are needed for social reform.
After the question and answer discussion, I talked with Teresa and introduced John. I invited her to come to Swarthmore College as I know the students would be inspired by her dedication to social justice. I never expected that Teresa would be visiting in our area, so I have great hopes that we will see each other again in the future.