Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Carrying on the Struggle"

A Sobering Teach-In in Recognition of Dr. King's Legacy

 On April 4, 2012, the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, The Oakland Coalition to Stop Goldman Sachs organized a teach-in, held at Allen Temple Baptist Church.

About fifty attendees listened intently during Reverend Daniel Buford's address as he spoke of the need to remember King's work while battling contemporary economic ills that plague our city.  All were stirred while viewing the documentary "Been to the Mountaintop." The film chronicled several of Dr. King's lesser known speeches, including radical commentary that he made before his death.  One attendee reported that she was moved to tears.

During the second portion of the event, Council Member Rebecca Kaplan addressed the crowd in a rabbinical role.  Kaplan drew from scripture and faith based allegories as she told the story of the toxic swap to which the city of Oakland is tied in its dealings with the nefarious Goldman Sachs.  Bursts of applause punctuated Kaplan's  speech as she informed the crowd of Goldman Sachs's unjust practices.

Deborah Santana and Yvonne Michelle presented a powerpoint presentation entitled "The Oakland Swap."  At the outset of the presentation, few people indicated that they were cognizant of the details of the interest rate swap. Several attendees were energized throughout the presentation as the story unfolded.  A spirited Question and Answer session at the end revealed a variety of strong concerns and pointed queries, some of which are paraphrased below:

  • What happens if we (the city of Oakland) don't pay (Goldman Sachs)?
  • What does Goldman Sachs do with our money?
  • Were there any financial experts involved in City Council's decision making making process when they agreed to enter the swap deal in 1997?

  • We need to hold our representatives accountable.
  • We need to go to Sacramento to let our concerns be known.
  • We can't let City Council sweep this under the rug.

One coalition member gave a very impassioned response during the discussion.  He ended it by saying, "We have to march on, as Dr. King said."

Millie Cleveland wrapped up the event with a kick-off of a letter writing campaign. Community members were encouraged to write postcards to the city council, encouraging them to get Goldman Sachs to DROP THE SWAP without penalty, and demand that Oakland monies be returned for desperately needed jobs, programs, and services.

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