Photo by Morgan Frisch
Rosa Clemente speaks to Fulton-Montgomery Community College students Tuesday about grass root movements and efforts as a William M. Barto Memorial
By MORGAN FRISCH
Fulton County Express
JOHNSTOWN—Where are you politically, what are you willing to struggle for, what are you willing to sacrifice, Rosa Clemente asked students at Fulton-Montgomery Community College Tuesday, during her talk on grass roots movements and efforts.
Clemente, a community organizer, independent journalist, hip-hop activist and 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate was the William M. Barto Memorial Speaker in the college theater.
“It’s not easy for organizers to stay steady to their politic,” she said. “ But, at this moment in time, I think definitely it’s going to require that.”
English assistant professor Lena Andersson and instructor for communication and broadcast media Elizabeth Press, both Barto committee members, introduced the presentation.
Andersson explained that the speaker series is named after William Barto, a popular professor who died in 2000. Barto had initiated the practice of inviting significant guests to F-MCC.
“The committee seeks to support the mission of FM, expand awareness of others, challenge prejudice, foster civic responsibility, to promote appreciation of the arts, develop an understanding of science and the uses of technology,” Andersson said. “ To improve earning capacity, to strengthen a sense of purpose in life and support lifelong learning and community development.”
Press mentioned that Clemente and Cynthia McKinney “were the first women of color ticket in the US presidential election.”
“Rosa is known for bringing her scholarship and passion to her activism around black and latina struggles and here, during Black History Month, we are excited to have her voice on campus,” Press said. “ As a political pendent with a voice that isn’t often heard on our evening news, we hope that in hosting a talk with Rosa today that we are able to carve out time for discourse and reflection on the current times of politics in this moment through a lens that we might not be able to get elsewhere.”
Clemente said that she hopes everyone would be an organizer, but mentioned that this requires you to challenge everything you thought being an organizer was about.
“As much as national protest is breaking out, marching at this point is not going to change the condition, and people are trying to grow a national movement and not understanding that we need to be in our local communities,” Clemente said.
She told students that she comes wanting to push people to be scholar activists, social entrepreneurs and innovative in their thinking. “Being ready to fight”, however, doesn’t require being in streets. Clemente stressed attending town meetings, the city council and asking about abandoned buildings or the homeless.
“We need to do some local work and it can’t always be about reacting to what to what the state or the system does,” she said.
Clemente said she became an organizer in college.
“It was such a conflicting, yet exhilarating time,” she said. “The college experience, being exposed to knowledge, beginning to see myself as something that I never even heard of. Beginning to understand that just because I was Puerto Rican didn’t mean that I knew anything about who I was; what my history was. Why my parents didn’t tell me certain things, why certain people didn’t get along. That all Asian people weren’t just all Asian. That people were poor and not everybody was middle class or rich. It was in college; being exposed to ideas and also being challenged by professors and then we as students challenging ourselves.”
Clemente spoke about the current state of the country.
“The thing that history often bares out is the truth,” she said. “Where we are going right now in this country is not good for the majority of people.”
Clemente answered student questions. Some asked if she was fearful of President Donald Trump’s policies or what they could do to get involved as an organizer.
“When an historical moment calls you, and you are doing the work of organizing and social justice it’s a pull you can’t resist it,” she said. “It’s a beautiful feeling and a lot of things don’t give people feelings like this.”