On 5 January 2019, Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn (MDC Brooklyn), a federal jail in Brooklyn, New York that housed 1,500 incarcerated people, lost power for the first time that year for unknown reasons. Three weeks later, an electrical fire caused the entire building to lose heating capabilities as well. This loss of power and heat took place over some of the coldest days and nights of the 2019 winter in New York City (NYC).
In 2016, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts was one of the most elite universities in the United States. It had the largest endowment of any university in the country at $35.7 billion. However, despite the wealth of the university, its treatment of its employees, specifically dining services employees, came into question in 2016. Starting in early June 2016, the dining services workers of Harvard began a series of negotiations with the university in order to demand a higher yearly salary.
In August of 2008, Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen was premiering his new documentary, “Leaving Fear Behind”, to a group of journalists in a Beijing hotel when Chinese police interrupted and forcibly shut down the screening.
Philadelphians prevent deportation of Honduran immigrant through church sanctuary, United States, 2014-15
The New Sanctuary Movement (NSM) was established to build a community
that does not discriminate based on faith, ethnicity, class, and to end
injustices against immigrants regardless of their legal or illegal
status. They are a national movement of civil disobedience trying to
pressure President Obama to reform immigration laws. Their movement
goals include pushing Obama to end all deportations, regardless of
“origin, status, criminal convictions, sexual or gender identity,
socioeconomic status, marital status, or previous deportation order”
Huntsville, Alabama, grew quickly during the United States’ Space Race with the Soviet Union. From 1950 to 1960, the population tripled from 16,000 to 72,000, with 30% black citizens. With Redstone Arsenal and the National Aeronautics (NASA) bringing scientists and middle class citizens to Huntsville, the city administration tried to present the city with a progressive image. However, instead of improving conditions for black citizens, the administration claimed that a racial inequality did not exist.
In 2008, the Federal Government of the United States launched a
program called “Secure Communities” that would allow Immigration and Customs
Enforcement to review records of suspects in the custody of local and state
police. In cases where officials found
out that prisoners were in the country illegally, officials could issue
detainer orders for local police to keep the prisoner in custody and begin
deportation proceedings. The effect of this enforcement policy was that
undocumented immigrants arrested on minor traffic infractions—or even
In May 2010, Alto Arizona, an immigrants’ rights organization, began assembling different grassroots groups to come together for the “Human Rights Summer.”. Inspired by the Freedom Summer of the Civil Rights Movement, the goal of the Human Rights Summer was to force Arizona to overturn the controversial immigration law SB1070, which stated that all adult foreigners in the United States for more than thirty days must register with the US government and keep their registration documents with them at all times. Violation would be considered a federal misdemeanor and could lead to arrest.
In 1963, nearly
ten years after the Brown vs. Board of
Education court case declared school segregation illegal, de facto rather
than legal segregation remained prevalent in many northern cities of the United
States including Milwaukee. Milwaukee
had begun “intact busing” of black children to predominately white schools in
1957, where black children were taught in classrooms separate from white
children and were not served in the cafeterias.
After U.S. President Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the battle for health care reform truly began to build in the United States of America. In fall of 2009, Mobilization for Health Care for All began a campaign for a single-payer health care system, soon known as “Patients Not Profits.”
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is best known for the unique fashion blouse they produced and the horrific fire that killed 146 workers, women who might have lived if the owners had been forced to ensure safety standards in the factory. Historically, the 1911 tragedy defined the Triangle workers as the victims of disaster.
By spring 1967 some of the legal barriers to racial equality in the U.S. had been struck down. The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities and women, in workplaces and in facilities that serve the general public. The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discrimination in voting.
On 16 May 1996, Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania signed Senate Bill 1441 into law. This bill contained a series of welfare reforms, including cuts to medical assistance, a requirement that childless people between ages 21 and 58 work 100 hours a month to receive medical assistance benefits, and a condition that anyone making more than $5100 a year did not qualify for medical assistance. When implemented this legislation would cut 250,000 people off of medical assistance.
On 1 June 1961, Isaac Coggs, the only African American Member of the Wisconsin legislature, introduced a Humans Rights bill with two civil rights provisions: a fair housing law and a plan to reorganize the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Though Governor Gaylord Nelson supported the bill, it was met with resistance in committee, facing amendments to kill or cripple it. Opponents of the bill argued that real estate
brokers and home sellers should have the right to decide to whom they should sell homes.
Native American and environmentalist groups block nuclear waste site in Ward Valley, California, 1995-2000
In March of 1988, U.S. Ecology, a national dump operating company, decided upon Ward Valley, California as the most desired location for building a new nuclear waste dump. Because this was federal land in the state, the government of California needed to buy Ward Valley land from the Bureau of Land Management in order to give U.S. Ecology the rights to build the dump. The Valley, however, is located in the Mojave Desert, an area home to an endangered species of desert tortoise considered sacred to a number of Native American tribes.
Beginning in late 2005, students at the University of Vermont (UVM) were involved in a movement to increase the wages of school employees such that workers could be given a "living wage." Primarily focused on food-service employees contracted by Sodexho, the nonviolent campaign sought out and acquired support from local officials, faculty, and even state legislators. The students believed they needed in intervene in order to secure a wage that was equal to the state standard of a living wage as established by the state legislature.
On January 11, 2012, Indiana Representative Cindy Noe introduced HB 1367 in the Indiana General Assembly, a bill that would transfer outreach services for deaf children, currently provided by the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD), to a newly established center with the state’s budget agency making recommendations on oversight of the center. The Indiana deaf community, led by members of the Indiana Association of the Deaf, quickly formed the Indiana Deaf Education Coalition (IDEC) in opposition to the bill.
Artificial baby milks—so called “infant formula”—became widespread commercial product during the early decades of the twentieth century. Among many companies involved, Nestlé’s was the biggest promoter, controlling more than 40% of the estimated $1.72 billion market. Nestle aggressively pursued the interest from infant formula with indiscriminate marketing. The marketing that evoked popular indictment was their promotion of infant formula in the Third World.
In 2006, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) began what would become a 6-year campaign against Chipotle for fair food and farmworker rights. The CIW, “a membership-led farmworker organization of mostly Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida,” had been organizing in Immokalee since 1993. Over time, they have won historic campaigns.
The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a private company that receives government funding to run prison and detention centers for-profit. The CCA’s immigrant detention centers are notorious for particularly bad living conditions.
After the 2008 home mortgage crisis, and particularly after the 2010-2011 recession, home foreclosure rates skyrocketed. Very few cases received much media attention. Dirma Rodgriguez’s situation is almost unique in that it was featured in local and syndicated newspapers. Due to high-profile actions and support from the Occupy Fights Foreclosure sub-committee within the larger group of Occupy Los Angeles, Dirma’s case reached the level of mainstream consciousness throughout the campaign.
By 1964, a handful of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) field workers had endured three years of continued repression as they challenged Mississippi’s racial discrimination. Only 6.7% of black Mississippians were registered to vote in 1962, the lowest percent in the country. In 1963 SNCC’s Mississippi operation was facing a stalemate. Since arriving in 1961 they had few concrete victories to show for their hard and dangerous work in the state. They had gotten few people to attempt to register, and even fewer were successful.
When the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) hired Chancellor Denice Denton in 2004 the transition entailed her earning a salary of $282,000 a year and $600,000 of renovations made on her future house of residence, including a controversial $30,000 dog run. This became a topic of debate; students as well as media critics quickly brought these details to light and demanded accountability for the choices of spending at the University. Under these circumstances, employees at the University began to call attention to the fact that they earned a less than living wage
Along with many student activists in United States universities in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the University of Buffalo Students Against Sweatshops (UBSAS) ran a campaign to pressure their university to join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC). After years of student protests and demonstrations, the University of Buffalo (UB) announced that they would join WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The group of student activists feared that their university’s decision to also join the corporate-sponsored FLA would compromise the efforts and aims of workers’ rights groups.
Georgetown Solidarity Committee (GSC) formed at Georgetown University in 1996
to support workers' rights. In the fall
of 2001, a group of students, headed by the GSC, formed the Living Wage
Coalition (LWC) in order to guarantee University workers an income to meet their
subsistence needs. The students held meetings on how to take action and organized
breakfast events with workers to hear their grievances and concerns. By 2002, the administration agreed to raise
the minimum wage of workers directly employed by the university to $10.25 per