Some of you may remember Antioch Professor Emerita Stephanie Glass Solomon. She was Chair of the BA Program for over 9 years and also was on the faculty for over 25. We are proud to share with you what this California Artist Activist has recently been doing.
Professor Solomon received the Puffin Foundation Ltd. Grant for Photography for her work Foot Soldiers Never Die in 2016. Later, AULA’s Professor Emerita created Foot Soldiers for Justice, a video and website that address the nation’s ongoing struggle for the vote, and against voter suppression. Her work is particularly relevant as we head into the 2016 elections.
She tells us that work was inspired by a middle-aged black man who was standing by an old sedan with T-shirts spread across the hood, in Selma. Hoping to sell the shirts, he held one up. It read, “Foot Soldiers Never Die. The 50th Anniversary. They marched for me and they didn’t even know my name.”
Professor Solomon asks us to, “Imagine all the ordinary people who, generation after generation, have supported the great civil rights leaders; people who have struggled to make this country a better place – the Foot Soldiers. Think of those who worked for the abolition of slavery, marched for women’s suffrage, stood up for the 40-hour week, and got arrested for civil disobedience over voting rights. Or of the millions who have changed our national discourse in the last few years, with Occupy, #Blacklivesmatter, the Dreamers, and the Fight for $15.” And, yes, she tells us, “Foot Soldiers do march for us, as the T-shirt said, even though they don’t know our names.” Her project clearly celebrates the everyday person who is the Foot Soldier, like so many of you in the Antioch community.
On her website, she says, “Beginning with the gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v Holder in 2013, there has been a dramatic rollback of voter rights and voter access all across the US. This is voter suppression. If you don’t know the tactics used to suppress the vote, they include: voter ID laws; purging roles of qualified voters; the elimination of early voting, same-day registration, and out-of-precinct voting; reduction of polling places; dividing minority districts, and prohibiting registration drives by organizations – to name just a few. This aggressive suppression of our access and right to vote is cause for great alarm.”
Professor Solomon writes, “ That’s why in early 2015, I went to Selma, Alabama for the Commemoration of Bloody Sunday and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. I hoped to find a way to be part of the movement addressing voter suppression, as well as other movements against growing social and economic injustices. It was after Ferguson, and before Baltimore and Charlotte, and the nation was again being made aware of our ongoing history of racial violence. A trip to Washington, D.C. followed, later in 2015, when I joined the last legs of America’s Journey for Justice, and also lobbied Congress with the NAACP, to propose Congressional bills about these and other issues. My intent was and is to contribute as a Foot Soldier, and to support the movements for social justice as an Artist Activist.”
Go Foot Soldiers!
Karen Hamilton ’17 (Antioch Los Angeles, MA) is Antioch's Director of Marketing for Content and Communications. She has used her storytelling and copywriting skills for more than twenty years, crafting articles and creating publications. She believes that communication is a powerful driver for social change.