The University of Central Arkansas Young Democratic Socialists have been working on organizing a public center with the help of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Conway and various community members and grassroots organizations. The location, named the Bayard Rustin Social Justice Center (with the blessing of the Rustin Estate), is now open and operating six days a week. It’s a free public library, food pantry, ‘zine distribution center, free tutoring center for high school and middle school students, and community education center run by volunteers.
We’ll soon be organizing monthly art expositions and concerts as well as weekly workshops on anything between t-shirt screen printing, history, economics, bicycle repair, to drawing/painting techniques, and anything that anybody else wants to talk about. It’s also a safe meeting place for local unions, GLBTQ advocacy groups, and community activist organizations.
Currently, we’re planning a bike collection drive and food benefit concert and we’re having our first workshop this Friday, entitled Factor 8: The Arkansas Prison Blood Scandal. Kelly Duda, the documentary film maker, will do a Q&A afterwards.
In the long-term, we hope to start a DSA chapter and use the cooperative as a southern local office and internal education and coordination center. We’ve still got a long way to go in organizing, and we most definitely need assistance in bringing the center to it’s full potential. Don’t think that if you don’t live in Arkansas, you can’t do anything to help. We’re working at organizing a national ‘zine distribution network with centers in Louisiana, New York, D.C., and Seattle. If you have any poetry, political or cultural observations, journals, recipes, erotica, rants, drawings, etc….compile them, photocopy them and staple ‘em into a little pamphlet/book, and send them on over. We’ll put them on display and do our best to distribute them. If you have any radical books that you’d like to donate, mail them. If you are an artist or sculptor, we can display your work and sell it…sending the proceeds to you since there is no overhead cost in the operation or maintenance of the center. We also accept gift cards. All books will be shelved and catalogued and loaned out free-of cost to people young and old, rich and poor in the area.
Email Kenny Grand at kgrand3@… for our book wishlist, or snail mail us ‘zines, art, books, gift cards, etc. to:
Bayard Rustin Social Justice Center
C/O Kenny Grand or Noel Camara
119 Oaklawn Dr.
Conway, AR 72034
Kenny Grand is a member of the YDS Coordinating Committee from Conway, Arkansas.