Posts tagged ‘Activist’

December 10, 2019

Wavy Gravy

Nobody for President

Hugh Nanton Romney (b. 1936), known as Wavy Gravy, is an American entertainer and peace activist best known for his role at Woodstock, as well as for his hippie persona and countercultural beliefs. He has reported that his moniker was given to him by B.B. King at the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969.

Romney has founded or co-founded several organizations, including the activist commune, the Hog Farm, and later, as Wavy Gravy, Camp Winnarainbow and the Seva Foundation. He founded the Phurst Church of Phun, a secret society of comics and clowns that aimed to support ending of the Vietnam War through political theater, and has adopted a clown persona in support of his political activism, and more generally as a form of entertainment work, including as the official clown of the Grateful Dead.

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March 10, 2015

David Graeber

debt

David Graeber (b. 1961) is an American anthropologist, anarchist and activist, who is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. Specializing in theories of value and social theory, he was an assistant professor and associate professor of anthropology at Yale University from 1998 to 2007, although Yale controversially declined to rehire him. From Yale, he went on to become a Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London from 2007-13.

Graeber has been involved in social and political activism, including the protests against the 3rd Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 and the World Economic Forum in New York City in 2002. He is also a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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August 14, 2013

Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy (b. 1972) is an American model, actress, author, and activist. She began her career in 1993 as a nude model for ‘Playboy’ magazine and was later named their Playmate of the Year. McCarthy then parlayed her ‘Playboy’ fame into a television and film acting career.

More recently, she has written books about parenting, and has become an activist promoting research into environmental causes, and alternative medical treatments for autism. She has claimed that vaccines cause autism and that chelation therapy helped cure her son of autism. Both claims are controversial and unsupported by any medical evidence. Additionally, her son’s autism diagnosis is disputed.

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June 3, 2013

Stetson Kennedy

Stetson Kennedy (1916 – 2011) was an American author and human rights activist. One of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the 20th century, he is remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world.

His actions led to the 1947 revocation by the state of Georgia of the Klan’s national corporate charter. Kennedy wrote or co-wrote ten books.

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March 20, 2013

Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger (1879 – 1966) was an American birth control activist, sex educator, and nurse. Sanger popularized the term ‘birth control,’ opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, and established Planned Parenthood. Sanger’s efforts contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States.

Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics (‘racial hygiene’), but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement. Sanger’s early years were spent in New York City. In 1914, prompted by suffering she witnessed due to frequent pregnancies and self-induced abortions, she started a monthly newsletter, ‘The Woman Rebel.’ Sanger’s activism was influenced by the conditions of her youth—her mother had 18 pregnancies in 22 years, and died at age 50 of tuberculosis and cervical cancer.

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December 11, 2012

Jane Elliott

Jane Elliott (b. 1933) is an American anti-racism activist and educator (she is also a feminist and LGBT activist).

She created the famous ‘blue-eyed/brown-eyed’ exercise, first done with grade school children in the 1960s, and which later became the basis for her career in diversity training.

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March 27, 2012

Ai Weiwei

free weiwei

Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) is a Chinese contemporary artist, active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curating, photography, film, and social, political and cultural criticism. Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. As a political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights. He has investigated government corruption and cover-ups, in particular the Sichuan schools corruption scandal following the collapse of so-called ‘tofu-skin schools’ in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. In 2011, following his arrest at Beijing airport, he was held for over two months without any official charges being filed; officials alluded to their allegations of ‘economic crimes’ (tax evasion).

Ai Weiwei’s father was Chinese poet Ai Qing, who was denounced during the Anti-Rightist Movement and in 1958 sent to a labor camp in Xinjiang with his wife, Gao Ying. Ai Weiwei was one year old at the time and lived in Shihezi for 16 years. In 1975 the family returned to Beijing. In 1978, Ai enrolled in the Beijing Film Academy and attended school with Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. In 1978, he was one of the founders of the early avant garde art group the ‘Stars,’ though the group disbanded in 1983. From 1981 to 1993, he lived in the United States, mostly in New York, creating conceptual art by altering readymade objects. He studied at Parsons School of Design and at the Art Students League of New York. At the same time, Ai became fascinated by blackjack card games and frequented Atlantic City casinos. He is still regarded in gambling circles as a top tier professional blackjack player.

February 19, 2012

Tank Man

unknown rebel by Matt Needham

Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protestors from in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in the summer of 1989. The man achieved widespread international recognition due to the videotape and photographs taken of the incident. Despite his anonymity, he is commonly (though not necessarily correctly) referred to in Chinese as Wang Weilin.

The man placed himself alone in the middle of the street as the tanks approached, directly in the path of the armored vehicles. He held two shopping bags, one in each hand. As the tanks came to a stop, the man gestured towards the tanks with his bags. In response, the lead tank attempted to drive around the man, but the man repeatedly stepped into the path of the tank in a show of nonviolent action. After repeatedly attempting to go around rather than crush the man, the lead tank stopped its engines, and the armored vehicles behind it seemed to follow suit. There was a short pause with the man and the tanks having reached a quiet, still impasse.

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August 4, 2011

Jack Herer

hemperor by mike tucker

Jack Herer (1939 –  2010) was an American cannabis activist and the author of ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes,’ a book which has been used in efforts to decriminalize cannabis. A former Goldwater Republican, he believed that the cannabis plant should be decriminalized because it has been shown to be a renewable source of fuel, food, and medicine that can be grown in virtually any part of the world. A specific strain of cannabis has been named after Herer that has won several awards, including the 7th High Times Cannabis Cup. He ran for US President twice, in 1988 (1,949 votes) and 1992 (3,875 votes) as the Grassroots Party candidate. In July 2000, he suffered a minor heart attack and a major stroke, resulting in difficulties speaking and moving the right side of his body. He mostly recovered, and claimed in 2004 that treatment with amanita muscaria, a psychoactive mushroom had cured him. He died six years later, aged 70.

European experts on hemp, like Dr. Hayo Van der Werf and Dr. Ivan Bûcsa, criticized Herer’ for making unrealistic claims regarding the potential of hemp, for example:  Herer claimed that hemp produces higher yields than other crops. Van der Werf argue that is simply wrong. Under most favorable growing conditions, other crops such as maize, sugar beet or potato produced similar dry matter yields. Herer also claimed that hemp hurds, which make up 60 to 80 % of the stem dry weight, contain 77 % cellulose. Van der Werf argue that is wrong. Cellulose content of hemp hurds has been found to vary between 32 and 38 %. Possibly, Herer confused the hurds, which form the woody core of the hemp stem, with the bark, which forms the outer layer of the hemp stem. The bark contains the long bast fibers which are used in textile manufacturing.

July 12, 2011

Garry Kasparov

kasparov

Garry Kasparov (b. 1963) is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time. Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22. He held the official FIDE world title until 1993, when a dispute with FIDE led him to set up a rival organization, the Professional Chess Association. He continued to hold the ‘Classical’ World Chess Championship until his defeat by Vladimir Kramnik in 2000. He is also widely known for being the first world chess champion to lose a match to a computer under standard time controls, when he lost to IBM’s Deep Blue in 1997. 

After his retirement from chess in 2005, Kasparov turned to politics and created the United Civil Front, a social movement whose main goal is to ‘work to preserve electoral democracy in Russia.’ He has vowed to ‘restore democracy’ to Russia by ousting Vladimir Putin, of whom he is an outspoken critic.

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June 28, 2011

Barry Cooper

barry cooper by Denis Beauvais

Barry Cooper (b. 1969) is an anti-drug-war lecturer known for his DVD series, ‘Never Get Busted’ and his reality show, KopBusters. Cooper formerly served as a law enforcement officer. Before his career in law enforcement, he trained dogs in obedience, hunting, and working with livestock. He was later hired by the Big Sandy Police Department as an interdiction officer in East Texas and trained his own narcotic detection dog.

As a law enforcement officer, Cooper confiscated large amounts of illegal narcotics and drug money. Cooper cited that he began to notice that people who were arrested for possession of marijuana were nonviolent and cooperative in contrast to the people that were arrested for violations while intoxicated on alcohol who ‘[…] would fight and scream and act crazy.’ He also noted being deeply affected by the emotional trauma he witnessed while participating in home narcotic raids with other officers attired in raid gear and ‘more guns than we would ever need.’ Cooper also stated, ‘We’re sending the kids to the department of human services, we’re sending the parents to jail over marijuana. Well, I knew some of these people and I knew they weren’t gangsters. I knew they were nonviolent people.’ He quit law enforcement soon after.

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June 7, 2011

Hibiscus

hibiscus by sabrina emami

Hibiscus (real name, George Harris, Jr.) (1949–1982) was one of the leaders of the psychedelic gay liberation theater collective group known as ‘The Cockettes’ in early 1970s San Francisco; in today’s theatrical parlance he would be considered to be a ‘Creative Director.’ George Harris was the young man in the turtleneck sweater in the famous picture of the anti-war protester putting flowers into the gun barrels of the MPs during the October 21, 1967 march on the Pentagon in order to ‘levitate’ it. Later as Hibiscus (whose full beard, vintage dresses, make-up and costume jewelry created a defiant look, even by today’s standards) embraced drag and drugs as paths to spiritual liberation, and attracted a group of like-minded hippies who loved show-tunes, dressing up, showing off and dropping acid, and became The Cockettes.

The Cockettes decked themselves out in drag outfits and glitter for a series of legendary midnight musicals at the Palace Theater in San Francisco’s California North Beach neighborhood. They quickly became a ‘must-see’ for San Francisco’s gay community, with their outlandishly decadent productions like ‘Journey to the Center of Uranus,’ ‘Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma,’ and ‘Gone with the Showboat to Oklahoma.’ Two notable Cockettes were the disco diva darling Sylvester and the ‘queen of B-movie filth’ Divine, who sang ‘If there’s a crab on Uranus you know you’ve been loved’ while dressed as a psychedelic crab queen. When the Cockettes wanted to start charging for their shows, Hibiscus left, believing all shows should be free, and formed the ‘Angels of Light.’ Hibiscus died of AIDS in 1982.

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