An occasional message from Peter Dreier

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
An occasional message from Peter Dreier  
How Hollywood Distorts Jackie Robinson's Life and Legacy: My article in today's The Atlantic magazine, "The Real Story of Baseball's Integration That You Won't See in 42," critiques 42, "the new film about Jackie Robinson. The movie is a real heart-grabber, but it ignores the broad-based protest movement that helped make civil rights groups, as well as Robinson's own political activism. For a decade before Robinson broke baseball's color barrier, the black press, let-wing activists, civil rights groups, and progressive politicians pressured the baseball establishment to hire African American players. "42" is only the latest of four Hollywood movies about Robinson that ignores this fascinating history. Yes, it is "just a movie," as some might say, the filmmakers had a real opportunity to tell a more accurate and interesting story, and they blew it.

Equal Protection or States Rights? The Supreme Court & Same-Sex Marriage.  What will the Supreme Court do about same-sex marriage? In this article for Truthout,  "Is the Supreme Court Going to Settle for 'States' Rights' on Same-Sex Marriage?" I compare the current debate over gay marriage with the controversy over inter-racial marriage a half century ago, when the Supreme Court knocked down state anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v Virginia in 1967. The parallels are obvious, but will the current Supreme Court be as bold? In this article,  "How Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage is Changing and What It Means,"  the NY Times' Nate Silver explains trends in public opinion about same-sex marriage. A majority of Americans now support it. What he doesn't mention is that 81% of Americans under 30 support it, according to the Washington Post/ABC News poll. The tide has turned and there's no going back, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides. A new PPIC poll shows that a majority of California's support same-sex marriage. If Proposition 8 (the anti-gay marriage referendum that passed in 2008) were on the ballot now, it would lose.  It's important to celebrate our progressive heroines and heroes. Even though she's not the lawyer arguing before the Supreme Court, Mary Bonauto -- profiled in this New York Times article -- has been the key legal strategist in the battle for marriage equality.

What Happened to the Environmental Movement? Nicholas Lemann has a very thoughtful essay, "When the Earth Moved: What Happened to the Environmental Movement?"  in The New Yorker about the history and future of the environmental movement -- the opportunities and challenges it now faces. It draws on Adam Rome's great new book The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-in Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation (Hill & Wang), about the original Earth Day and its aftermath. Lemann's essay uses the environmental movement to ask a larger question: what are the essential ingredients of a successful social justice movement?

The GOP's Ongoing War on Voting.  Despite the backlash against the Republicans' voter suppression efforts in the last election, the GOP is still committed to keeping certain groups of people from exercising their right to vote. Read this report, from the Brennan Center for Justice, which documents the GOP's war on voting and provides actions you can take to thwart the GOP from destroying our democracy.

The Student Anti-Sweatshop Movement is Alive and Well.  Students around the country are pressuring their colleges and universities to drop their contracts with companies like Adidas, Nike, and others that continue to use sweatshops to manufacture their clothing.  This article in USA Today "Colleges Cut Ties with Adidas Amid Labor Violations," is one example.  United Students Against Sweatshops is the national umbrella group that has been coordinating the anti-sweatshop movement for almost 20 years.

My Boston Book Tour.   I'll be coming to Boston for a book tour from April 22 – 24.  I hope to see you at one of the four talks I’ll be giving based on my book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, published by Nation Books.   Here’s the schedule:
  •          Monday, April 22 –  Brandeis University.   Rapaporte Treasure Hall in Goldfarb Library.  4 pm. Sponsored by the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice along with  other programs and departments.
  •          Tuesday, April 23 – Boston University.  CAS, Room B36, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, 3 pm.   Cosponsored by BU Department of Sociology and the Graduate Programs in City Planning and Urban Affairs, Department of Applied Social Sciences
  •         Tuesday, April 23 –  Jamaica Plain Forum.  First Parish Church, 6 Eliot Street in Jamaica Plain. 7 pm. Cosponsored by Jobs with Justice, LISC, MA Communities Action Network, the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action, and the Mel King Institute
  •         Wednesday, April 24 – Harvard University.  Kennedy School of Government, 6 pm. (Room to be determined) 

The opinions expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of Occidental College or its employees. Occidental College is not responsible for the content of this communication.