Free Bubbe, Mandela, and the 99%

My almost four-year-old granddaughter is constantly asking questions about jail. In an effort to change her focus from people who are imprisoned for doing bad things, my son, Eli, informed her that her Bubbe had spent time in jail.

That’s right, I, Louise Silk, Bubbe of Maya Elizabeth Silk, made the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1972 when I was arrested and taken to jail along with ninety-eight other members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. We accepted arrest rather than comply with a court injunction banning picketing during a six-week teacher’s strike.

I am the short one with the hippy jeans on the right. We spent one day in prison and they let us out at dinnertime so that they wouldn’t have to feed us.

In contrast, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, spent 27 prison years with the floor his bed, a bucket for a toilet, doing hard labor in a quarry. His prison experience became the crucible that transformed him into the leader who created a democratic South Africa. This photo was taken during South Africa’s millennium celebration when Nelson Mandela revisited the Robben Island Prison after he had been the President from 1994-1999.

To date there have been over 3000 arrests around the country connected with Occupy Wall Street, the nonviolent protest that began with men and women of all races, backgrounds, political and religious beliefs representing the 99% who want to end the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1% of America.

In the words of Occupy Wall Street:

The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people’s assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.

Published by SilkQuilt

Pittsburgh-based fiber artist, Louise Silk, creates art that combines aesthetics and functionality with meaning and memories. From the influence of a 1972 MS Magazine article to the current SILKDENIM label, her quilt experiences culminate in a display of her particular capacity to use her patchwork skills to piece together just about anything into an aesthetic meaningful whole.

2 thoughts on “Free Bubbe, Mandela, and the 99%

  1. Great post. Lots of good connections. And, of course, the picture of you smiling as you are going to (or leaving?) jail is wonderful. I am proud to tell Maya that you stood up for what you believed in and put your a– on the line.


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