Recently, I met one of my heroes, Amy Goodman. For twenty years Amy has hosted and produced Democracy Now!, a news radio program which covers issues facing our world and the movements working to correct them.
Inside a packed high school gymnasium in Albuquerque’s South Valley, I weaved in and out of the audience, snapping pictures and stopping every so often to let her words resonate with me. It was just like listening in on the radio show.
Before I decided to become a journalist, I read one of the books Goodman wrote with her brother, David Goodman. It was full of stories of everyday heroes and fighters. Regular people who simply could not stand by while injustice played out before them. They spoke up and challenged the status quo. I was inspired.
The event was a reading and book signing, but Goodman did not just come to promote a book. She was promoting free speech in the form of a low-power community radio station.
Robert F. Kennedy Charter School sits atop a hill in the South Valley. Because of this, it happens to be the perfect spot to erect a radio tower.
In collaboration with Quote Unquote Inc., a local non-profit media group, RFK is organizing the low-power FM station KQUQ to broadcast community programming and teach students how to create media to reflect their experience.
For years, Quote Unquote successfully ran the public access television channels in Albuquerque until they were unceremoniously replaced in 2012 by another operator.
Since then, they have fought to find a place from which to broadcast quality programming for and by the community.
This station will be a way for young students to exercise their right to free speech, to speak out and call attention to the problems and the victories of their communities.To be inspired by the words and stories they hear.
Media should start with the communities it claims to reflect. Who better to give an account than someone who lives it?
To teach these young students they can speak their minds and people will hear and people will listen is empowering. It is teaching them to question their policy makers, to uncover truths that do not see light and to amplify voices that do not have power.
I have seen first hand what media making can do for students. In my time as a fellow at Generation Justice, I have met young men and women of color who astound me with their dedication to the project, their ability to see beyond the narratives others write for them and their passion for uplifting community. I can just imagine what an impact KQUQ will have for the young people at RFK.