Revolution #74, December 24, 2006


Half of Berkeley High School Attends World Can’t Wait Teach-in

by a reader

Berkeley assembly
Berkeley H.S. students fill auditorium for World Can’t Wait Teach-In, December 11.
Photo: Special to Revolution

On December 11, half of the students of Berkeley High School attended a teach-in to hear Carlos Mauricio, a torture survivor, and Larry Everest, Revolution correspondent and author of Oil, Power, and Empire, deliver urgently needed truth about the war in Iraq and the Military Commissions Act, the new torture bill signed by Bush. The event was part of actions organized around the country by World Can’t Wait (WCW) and other groups for International Human Rights Day.

The teach-in was organized in just one week by the Berkeley High WCW Club, with the help of a youth organizer from the Bay Area WCW chapter. WCW Club members distributed flyers all over the school calling for students to wear orange on the day of the event to represent the torture victims at Guantánamo usually shown in orange jumpsuits. One club member was videotaped by the cable channel Nickelodeon as part of a program on student activism. The youth organizer talked to every teacher he could find in school about bringing their classes to the teach-in. The response was inspiring. The teach-in spanned the first three periods of the school day, and an average of 20 classes assembled for each of the three periods, with roughly 1,500 students attending the event.

Two members of the WCW Club opened each of the three assemblies with a brief statement about the threat posed by the Bush regime, and a challenge: “We are the future and we have the responsibility for what kind of world we live in. So the question is, what kind of world will it be?”

Carlos Mauricio spoke about getting abducted by a U.S.-sponsored death squad in 1983 while teaching high school in El Salvador. Some students gasped as he described the screams of people being raped and electrocuted in the prison where he was held. He drew the links between his experience and the Military Commissions Act, and he pointed out that the new torture law also changes many fundamental rights such as habeas corpus, enabling the government to hold people without trial.

Larry Everest spoke about the crisis students face today with the Bush regime—ranging from global devastation to torture and the war. He exposed how the Iraq war is a key part of U.S. plans for greater empire. He ended by referencing the Lord of the Rings and Gandalf’s challenge to Frodo as great danger loomed: “What are you going to do?”

Time for Q&A was short, but students got in a few questions ranging from the shredding of the Bill of Rights to “what can we do.” A WCW youth organizer ended by calling on students to dare to change the world and join the movement to drive out the Bush regime. 140 students signed up for the WCW Club off of the event. One WCW Club member said, “I’ve never seen people so quiet listening to the speakers…but we have more work to do.”

World Can’t Wait and other groups have called for “100 Teach-ins” on campuses across the country in the beginning of the spring semester. (Go to for more info.) The experience of the Berkeley High teach-in highlighted the basis and the urgent need to engage students all over the country about the reality of what the Bush regime is doing as part of building a movement to drive this regime from power.

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