NEWS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO – As we approach the end of the public school year and college graduations that leave students with thousands of dollars in student loan debt, it is important to remember where we stand as a country on the human right to education.  On Sunday, May 17, 2015, the 61st anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the book My Trip to the Land of Gandhi: A Mexican-Americans Journey to the Legacy of Nonviolent Resistance will be launched as an eBook on www.smashwords.com and as a print-on-demand book on www.thebookpatch.com. The book is a memoir about a Mexican mother’s son growing up in poverty in America and his pursuit of the human right to education through the legacy of Gandhian nonviolence. In 1959, after the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. King wrote an important article in Ebony magazine about his journey to India to study the work and life of Gandhi and the Indian freedom struggle and how to apply those lessons back home to redeem America’s democracy. The article was entitled “My Trip to the Land of Gandhi.” In the article, King states, “I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” 

This book is about this young son’s metaphoric “Trip to the Land of Gandhi” and how this journey helped him confront the great issues of today with this great legacy of nonviolence resistance. The first item on the agenda was the $90,000 in student loan debt that was handed to him along with his law school degree. Erik Olson Fernández’s journey and his strategic insights are a call to action to finish the “unfinished business” of the 1960s with a nonviolent struggle for the human right to quality free public education in the Americas.

Sadly, more than 60 years after Brown v. Board, public school students are still plagued by stark racial and economic segregation and misguided education reform efforts led by some of the wealthiest people on the planet.  In California, for example, it’s once proud, mostly white, public school system was the envy of the globe in the 1950s and 60s but it is now one of the worst in the country and criminally underfunded.  In 2004, PBS made a film documentary on California’s public schools appropriately entitled “From First to Worst.” (http://learningmatters.tv/blog/documentaries/watch-first-to-worst/651/)  Education Week’s Quality Counts 2014 report ranked California 49 out of 51 in its state rankings on per-pupil spending – below all the Southern states, including Mississippi.  Black and Latino students today make up at least 59% of the student population in California.  According to a February 4, 2015 article from Capital & Main entitled “The California Chasm” by Manuel Pastor and Dan Braun, "California[…]is the home to more super rich than anywhere else in the country-and it also exhibits the highest poverty rate in the nation, when cost of living is taken into account. Income disparities in the state of California are among the highest in the nation, outpacing such places as Georgia and Mississippi in terms of Gini coefficient, a standard measure of inequality.”  After much legislation, many public referendums, and high profile lawsuits, California’s students are still denied their state constitutional right to a quality, free public education.  The time has come to give life to lifeless laws with the great legacy of nonviolent resistance.  

All proceeds from the book will go to fight for the human right to education through Nuevo SNCC.  Visit www.nuevosncc.net for more details. 

 

    Erik Olson Fernández

    LIVES: San Diego, CA

    EDUCATION: B.A. in Urban and Regional Planning, Miami University; J.D., Northeastern University School of Law

    BACKGROUND: Erik Olson Fernández has many years of experience organizing for nonviolent social change as a community organizer and in the labor movement as with public education and health care unions. Motivated by the experiences of growing up with a single mother from Mexico, he has a long commitment to economic and social justice.  Like Gandhi, Erik holds a law degree but has instead focused and devoted his life to organizing workers and community residents for justice. He is currently working on a project to create Nuevo SNCC, the modern equivalent of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization that seeks to revive SNCC's legacy of nonviolent resistance to challenge today's human rights violations around the right to education.

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