I’ve been reading Radical Equations, a book of stories of the civil rights movement during the 60s and of Bob Moses’ work with the Algebra Project and the threads that connect those movements. The stories of civil rights organizing in Mississippi is a history that I knew little about, so it was enlightening and hearing it told first-hand as a story of experience rather than removed history is pretty powerful. I also started reading a paper about stories, ownership, empowerment, and exploitation, The Story Economy that articulates the importance of the story for social justice movements nicely:
Storytelling is both simple and powerful, and these two characteristics make it a valuable tool in the struggle for social justice: everyone understands stories and everyone as a story. Indeed, there is a macabre inverse correlation between abject circumstances nd narrative. Absolute poverty, for example, can only be the result of a tragic narrative. Such stories have an undeniable quality that enables them to be persuasive arguments for change. The civil rights movement of the sixties proved that when narratives of injustice gain traction in the minds of policy makers, those stories can result in progress. A woman too tired to relinquish her bus seat to a white passenger, a small group of black men who refused to leave a lunch counter â€“ these and other actions were catalysts for change that ruptured the fabric of the status quo, and were turning points in the narrative of white privilege. Stories, therefore, can be a resource for people when other resources are scarce.
In the same article, the author quotes Castelloe and Gamble to provide a clear definition of popular education (I wish I would have had that when I was writing the press release for the I Want to Do This All Day tour stop in Bloomington):
[a] popular educator can be considered someone who helps groups of people in low-wealth and marginalized communities learn to use reflections on their daily experiences to analyze the social, political, and economic systems in which their communities are embedded. Popular educators also assume that the skills and knowledge that people have gained through their life experiences can provide the foundation for creating significant community change. (2005, p. 262)