Youth say Books Not Bombs

NEW YORK – Cinnomin Brothers hopes she can raise enough money to come all the way from Houston, Texas, to the Books Not Bombs Youth Convergence, to be held here Aug. 28.

Why is the Youth Convergence so important to her? She believes that right now is a “crucial” time for youth to get involved in protesting Bush and his right-wing policies, and that the only way youth voices will be heard is through “strength in numbers.”

The Convergence, called by the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition (NYSPC), aims to build that strength by providing a space where young people eager to protest the Republican National Convention can learn from each other and energize the youth and student movement.

According to the group’s web site, NYSPC has worked since 2001 “to build strategic, long-term student and youth opposition to war, both abroad with bombs and bullets, and at home with racism, cuts to education, and freedom-limiting ‘anti-terrorism’ policies.” The group is best known for calling the historic student strike in March 2003, when thousands of students from 500 high schools and colleges around the country walked out to protest the Bush administration’s impending war on Iraq.

While the Republicans convene at Madison Square Garden, young activists from around the country will be converging on St. Mark’s Church in the East Village. NYSPC expects hundreds to arrive for a day of interactive workshops, film and performances, in-depth discussion, and preparations for the week of protests ahead. A “Beats Not Bombs” party is planned for the evening.

Ashwini Hardikar, an organizer for the event, says, “the workshops and discussions will focus on the ‘Books Not Bombs’ agenda, a set of five demands for peace and for youth rights: money for education not empire, military recruitment out of schools, respect civil liberties, campuses for peace not war, and schools not jails.”

Hardikar said the day will feature more than the average conference; participants will learn a variety of media and activist skills, as well as drop into an all-day “artspace” featuring performances and exhibits. The Youth Convergence will also be the gathering place for the Books Not Bombs contingent in Sunday’s antiwar, anti-RNC march sponsored by United for Peace and Justice.

While the Youth Convergence will welcome anti-RNC protesters from around the country, local organizers have made a special effort to focus on reaching New York City youth. Community groups and youth who have worked to save summer jobs programs, end city college tuition hikes, and stop military recruitment at NYC public schools will all be represented.

Brothers is optimistic about getting to New York City. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the youth together in one place, working for a world that values resources and opportunities for youth over war and occupation,” she says. “In other words, books not bombs!”

The Books Not Bombs Youth Convergence will take place Saturday, Aug. 28, at St. Mark’s Church, 131 E. 10th St., in New York City, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. See www.nyspc.net and www.unitedforpeace.org.

Keren Wheeler writes for Dynamic magazine (www.dynamicmag.org). She is a leader of the Young Communist League USA and can be reached at kwheeler@yclusa.org.