[GVCP] FW: Zack Pitt-Smith is famous

March 12, 2019

Dear GVCP member,

This is from GVCP member Sally Matlin, who happens to be our daughter.  (I deleted some family information from her message.)

Long-time members will remember that Zack Pitt-Smith was the winner of GVCP’s Young Peacemaker Award.  That was about 30 years ago.  Obviously, we made the right choice!

Arnie Matlin for GVCP

I wanted to share a news article and a blog post about Zack Pitt-Smith, Oakland Teachers’ Union Strike Music Captain.  Zack had an important role as a strike leader, and I figured I’d share articles I saw online. (As a reminder, I could hear the strike protests because of the strike music, as I sat in my office of Alliance for Justice across from Oakland City Hall.)

The first piece is an in-depth interview with Zack and another Oakland Unified School District music teacher. http://thebaybridged.com/2019/03/04/music-beats-at-the-heart-of-the-ousd-teachers-strike/?fbclid=IwAR1y52Xrx9b4dnIvFc6Ixztv7mX-KdJbA5NKLZ1gaa3eRu7IYlIpoMicvK8

Zack posted this article to Facebook, and I made the following comment:

I’m so proud to know the Music Captain! Seriously, the music made those protests so joyous and raucous and grounded. They reminded me of the first rally I went to in Nicaragua in 1988. It was in remembrance of a student massacre, and yet there was singing and dancing in the streets. I was envious of that, especially in comparison to the dirges they sang at our protests in the U.S.  But you and the strike musicians? That restored my faith in our ability to rise and meet our challenges.

And you referencing Plato!?! The journalist was so impressed, they gave you an extra “s.”

Here’s a blog post generally about music and the strike, including a photo of Zack and part of the previous interview. Notice the links to music and chant in this blog post.

The link to hints for chants written by an SEIU member was fascinating. https://ncaosa.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/social-movement-accompaniment-the-roles-of-music-and-dance-in-the-2019-ousd-strike/?fbclid=IwAR2UClh7azuZyif_ge0m9Pb_aS5_qfvPGjbwL3cWUa1Qm0qcYSV9SjUAxL0  <https://ncaosa.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/social-movement-accompaniment-the-roles-of-music-and-dance-in-the-2019-ousd-strike/?fbclid=IwAR2UClh7azuZyif_ge0m9Pb_aS5_qfvPGjbwL3cWUa1Qm0qcYSV9SjUAxL0>

Zack’s role in the strike really motivated Jay and me to help out. We made a contribution to the strike fund, and I bought us matching t-shirts (“Teachers are the heart of Oakland”) when I joined the rally briefly one day. We follow Zack’s lead in being disappointed that the deal the union struck with the school district still leaves Oakland students without critical professional specialists and leaves the communities vulnerable to further charter school invasion. Still, the strike remains a demonstration of the education community’s power. More personally, I got to see how Zack transformed his talent into political leadership as the strike music captain.


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