In Memoriam ~ Pepi Leistyna

It is with great sadness that we share the news that our colleague, Pepi Leistyna, passed away earlier this year.  Pepi was a Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston where he taught classes on critical pedagogy, cultural studies, and media literacy and directed the Center for World Languages and Cultures.  He was an elected member of the WCSA’s steering committee and served on the program committee for the 2010 How Class Works conference.  His contributions to the field include the documentary, Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class, which won the Studs Terkel Award for Media and Journalism in 2007, and several ground-breaking publications: Breaking Free: The Transformative Power of Critical Pedagogy, The Presence of Mind: Education and the Politics of Deception, Defining and Designing Multiculturalism, Cultural Studies: From Theory to Action, and his most recent book, Television and Working Class Identity: Intersecting Differences.  He served on the editorial boards of Radical Teacher, Public Resistance, the Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies as well as several others and won the 2013 Peace Maker Award for his work on the Whole9 Peace Project.

For additional information about Pepi’s commitment to social justice and activism, see the tributes published by Radical Teacher and the National Education Policy Center.

Class Action Activist Class Cultures Kit Now Available

Class Action has recently added an Activist Class Cultures Kit to its arsenal of educational materials and activities around social class. Executive Director Anne Phillips describes the kit as “a comprehensive guide to understanding your own class experience, seeing class culture traits around you, collaborating better with others from class backgrounds different than your own, and implementing the strengths of each class to help your social justice organization succeed. It’s full of videos, quizzes, tips, and stories about real progressive activist groups facing class culture challenges.” Based on CA’s “Bridging Activist Class Cultures” workshops, the site includes a discussion guide for groups reading Betsy Leondar-Wright’s Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.

Film premiere of Exit Zero

Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago by MIT anthropologist Christine Walley won WCSA’s 2013 C.L.R. James Prize for the Best Book for Academic or General Audiences. Christine and her filmmaker spouse Chris Boebel have now produced a movie version of Exit Zero, subtitled An Industrial Family Story. It premieres October 22-25 at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York City, and after that it will be shown in various venues around the country.

Film Screening of Voices of the Lumbee

Voices of the Lumbee, winner of this year’s WCSA’s Studs Terkel Prize for Media and Journalism, will be screened at the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute in Durham, NC as part of Duke University’s Rights! Camera! Action! film series on Tuesday, October 20th at 6:30 pm.  A discussion will follow led by filmmakers Michele Fazio and Jason Hutchens.

Digital Storytelling

Jane Van Galen, a first-generation college student now an Education Professor at University of Washington Bothell, has posted fourteen digital stories created by first-generation college students, First In Our Families: Digital Stories of First Generation Students. A collaboration with Class Action, each story is just a few minutes as the author reads a prose poem with images, music and silence woven into “elegant multimedia pieces about pride, growth, anger, tenacity, doubt, shame, and discovery as they navigate the invisible cultural and social norms of higher education.”