Sunday, March 18, 2007

2007 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break

[Texas Students Against the Death Penalty ran this on their blog earlier today, it was so good it had to be "borrowed" -- it seems Austin was the place to be.]
The 2007 Anti-Death Penalty Alternative Spring Break sponsored by Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Campus Progress, Texas Moratorium Network and several other organizations was a big success. Students received valuable training and experience in grassroots organizing, lobbying, preparing a direct action and media relations. During the week, students immediately put what they learned into action during activities such as the "Day of Innocence Rally" at the Texas capitol, when they visited members of the Texas Legislature and lobbied them on the need for a moratorium on executions. They also organized a protest in the heart of the SXSW music festival in downtown Austin during the Direct Action Day.

As a result of all their hard work throughout the week, the students generated hugely positive media coverage that helped educate the public on the issue of the death penalty. Scott Cob, president of Texas Moratorium Network compared the week's events to past struggles for social justice by saying, "this is an historical echo to what happened in the 1960s when people came down to the South during the Civil Rights Movement to help people register to vote, what they called freedom summers. This is very similar to what was going on back then, but here the issue is the death penalty."
Planning for the alternative spring break began last October. During the weeks leading up to the event, the students who organized the program had to solve various problems, such as finding replacements for a couple of speaker cancellations and finding cheap housing in Austin during the busy SXSW film and music festival. This year we had students coming from as far away as the UK, Mexico and Canada.
Austin was definitely the place to be during spring break 2007 for young people whose goals include becoming part of the next generation of human rights leaders. As one of the students said, "I could have gone to the beach and changed my state of mind for a week instead I came to Austin this week to change the world forever." During the spring break, students also had plenty of free time to enjoy Austin - the Live Music Capital of the World.
[more here, including pics]

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