american legion post 398

 What do Obama, the first feminist general assembly of Occupy Wall Street, retired Marines and Swedish oil and mining representatives have in common?

Jazz, apparently.

 Thursday the 17th, as every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, the American Legion post 398 hosted free jazz performances.  The Colonel Charles Young spot is personable and inviting, located in the basement of an historic brownstone deep in Harlem. The friendly bartender delivers airplane sized shooters and mixers over a wooden bar with scattered chairs and tables. The crowd is primarily made up of up adult to elder African –Americans, although tonight an international and local cadre of protestors coming from the first feminist general assembly is half the crowd.

Jostling out into the spring evening the jazz music softly wafts back to the low lit garden patio reserved for smoking patrons.  The conversation naturally evolves as people mingle into different groups. Politics are central, with each group having ideas about how to proceed forward into 2012.

A retired Marine talks about experiencing racism within the ranks, even as he was fighting for U.S. interests. “It’s not about civil rights for me,” he says, “it’s about human rights.” He started the grassroots group, Harlem for Obama, and believes that Obama will be able to keep his promises in the second term. “We still have hope!”

Those who attended the first feminist general assembly were excited about possibilities of liberation through conversation.  One participant said, “We all had deep discussion about what our definition of feminism is, as there are many definitions. Then we worked in groups to come up with priorities.” You can view discussion live from Washington Square Park.

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