This Saturday, a group of neighbors and organizers plan to throw a music event with a twist. The CurbFest for Political Prisoners will bring political education to communities in a fun way. According to its purpose statement, it “connects organizers with community members to raise political awareness of political prisoners and share ways to get involved in the movement.” Political prisoners are “people jailed on charges related to their resistance to oppression and repression, and targeted by the state for their political beliefs and/or actions.” Organizers say the event will be a space where people can digest information without feeling intimidated.
“My objective is how do I raise consciousness around the revolution. From what has been done to what is happening currently and what can be done moving forward. And also catch a vibe,” says Ti(e), one of the organizers.
Ti(e), 27, and another co-organizer, Tawobi, agree that political education can be frightening for some people. They believe that the environment that a person learns in is critical. Tawobi says the CurbFest “isn’t just hitting you on the head with information.” They will have music, refreshments, and other community members to connect with. “It’s a good time for everyone.”
CurbFest emerged from West Philly Porchfest, an event featuring free shows on porches by musicians to promote the community’s musical and cultural diversity. Ti(e) was at Porchfest back in June of this year and said that while the event was great, she feels it could have had a wider reach. After consulting with some other peers and her mentor, she said they unofficially formed the Mentoring the OG Revolutionaries collective, an intergenerational group of people who strive to take older generations’ work and make it matter in contemporary times.
“They have all these resources. They have all the information. They have the knowledge. But, how do we take their work and make it matter in the 21st century? Or make it more prevalent and noticed,” Ti(e) says.
Both organizers say that supporting political prisoners is vital because they see them as predecessors who did the work they’re currently doing. Ti(e) and Tawobi say the project is necessary for intergenerational work. They believe everyone has something they can contribute. “How do we get these people to talk to each other and move with each other,” was a question that Tawobi says was vital for them to answer in the planning process. “This is how it should be. The young folks are the ones that got a bit more fire on ’em, and the oldheads are the ones that got all the game. And you need both.”
CurbFest will create stations surrounding the Germantown & Chelten area where people will learn about different political prisoners. There are nine stations, each with a political educator, performer, music, and a represented political prisoner. The event is on September 18. The first station will be at Vernon park, and the event runs from 3 pm to 8 pm. Many special guests and performers will appear at the event, including upcoming talent in Philly.
“You can get a little walk out of it, it’ll be a nice day, you’ll get some information, and we’ll be laughing in the park,” Ti(e) concludes. “It’s political education and a vibe.”