Radio — Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar

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On this week’s episode of Talking Radical Radio, Scott Neigh speaks with Helen Hudson and Sara Falconer. They are members of the collective that produces the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar. The interview also includes supplmental audio material from Herman Bell, a former member of the Black Panther Party, a currently incarcerated political prisoner, and also a member of the Certain Days collective.

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The Certain Days calendar is a unique political collaboration that has been going on for at least a decade and a half. The project began in part because of a quirk of geography. A number of the key prisons in New York State happen to be significantly closer to Montreal than they are to New York City. This made it practical, years ago, for a handful of radical folks in Montreal who were engaged in activism and organizing on a range of issues to develop relationships of support and solidarity with a number of the long-term political prisoners being held in those prisons. At a certain point, one of these prisoners — Herman Bell — suggested that a way for all of them, both those in prison and those on the outside, to collaborate on a shared political project would be to produce a calendar. Everyone else thought this was a great idea, and Certain Days was born.

On one level, the calendar is a conventional wall calendar — the sort of object you can use to keep track of your dentist appointment and that parent/teacher interview you have next week. Yet along with allowing you to track the days, each month also incoporates a full-colour image above, and a short article before or after. Many of these images and articles are produced by current or former political prisoners, and all of them are connected in one way or another to important social justice issues. The images and articles reflect the theme of that year’s calendar, which in 2017 is “sustaining movements.” As well, along with the sort of marking of public holidays and the like that you would find in most calendars, this one also notes many little-known but important dates from histories of struggle for justice and liberation.

In addition to being a calendar, therefore, it is a visually striking and densely informative publication that works to raise awareness about a range of social jusitce issues, certainly including but going far beyond issues of political prisoners and prisoner justice. And the sale of it works in a number of different ways as a fundraiser for groups engaged on the ground in activism and organizing of various sorts.

Hudson and Falconer are two of the current members of the calendar collective on the outside, and the members who are currently in prison include Bell, David Gilbert and Robert Seth Hayes. Hudson and Falconer talk with me about political prisoners and prisoner justice issues, about the nuts and bolts of making the calendar each year, and about all of the great stuff that can be found in the 2017 edition. Also included in the episode is a short clip of Bell setting some of the historical context for political prisoners in the United States and for the rise of mass incarceration, as part of a larger statement from October 2016 for The Freedom Archives to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party.

To learn more about the Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar or to find out how to get a copy of the 2017 edition, click here.

Talking Radical Radio brings you grassroots voices from across Canada. We give you the chance to hear many different people that are facing many different struggles talk about what they do, why they do it, and how they do it, in the belief that such listening is a crucial step in strengthening all of our efforts to change the world. To learn more about the show check out its website here. You can also follow us on FaceBook or Twitter, or contact scottneigh@talkingradical.ca to join our weekly email update list.

Talking Radical Radio is brought to you by Scott Neigh, a writer, media producer, and activist based in Hamilton (formerly Sudbury), Ontario, and the author of two books examining Canadian history through the stories of activists.

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