Bennett Foster

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Bennett Foster


Bennett Foster is a Tennessee activist. He is married to Sally Joyner.

Background

Born and raised in Memphis, Bennett joined Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in 2008 as a volunteer, working on a range of issues from underfunded public services to workers rights, jumping at any opportunity to support genuine grassroots efforts. A graduate of MSP&JC’s GOT POWER and Community Organizer Training, Bennett dove into organizing Memphis’ first Bus Riders Union which was founded in 2012. Today, the Memphis Bus Riders Union is a rapidly growing transit riders movement, that have won several campaigns to stop funding cuts and restore MATA’s budget, improve shelters and service throughout the city and push for rider input and authority. As Organizing Fellow, Bennett leads the center’s work for transit equity. He also organizes the Neighborhood Alliance which helps build the capacity and resources of neighborhoods on the precipice of redevelopment and gentrification. Prior to joining our staff in 2014, Bennett spent most of his life working in restaurants and cleaning houses, writing music, and performing with various artists, including MAGIC KIDS and The Barbaras. He enjoys investigation, whether it be a dusty LP, an injustice, or a potential for change.[1]

"Nashville 7"

March 2011, U of M students Justin Sledge, philosophy graduate student, and Sally Joyner, U of M law student, were among the seven protesters released from jail on bond Tuesday night following their arrests at a Nashville protest at the state capitol.

The two students, as well as Paul Garner and Leah Shoaf, students at Memphis College of Art, Jeffrey Lichtenstein and Bennett Foster, Memphians, and Ash-Lee Henderson of Chattanooga, were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

The incident has drawn polarized reactions from across the state, with some applauding the efforts of the protesters and others condemning their behavior, including elected officials.

Thursday, state senator Randy McNally said he was "dismayed" when he learned that some of the arrestees were members of The U of M's registered student organization Progressive Student Alliance, calling for disciplinary action from The University.

Sledge is the vice president of The U of M chapter of Progressive Student Alliance, which helped organize the rally with unions and labor groups from across Tennessee.

Lichtenstein, though not a U of M student, is also a member of the group.

PSA issued a statement Thursday night addressing its role in the protest and the seven "unjustly" arrested Tennesseans, lauding the "scores of people who stood against empty rhetoric and for real democracy" during the protest.

The group said the actions of protestors during Tuesday's Senate committee meeting, for which Tennessee state troopers forcibly removed them, were not organized or planned in advance.

Of their criticism from elected officials, PSA said:

"If Nashville politicians spent as much time listening to the demands of workers and students as they do slandering PSA in the press, our democracy would be in better shape, and we could find more productive things to be doing on a Thursday night than writing press releases."

Lichtenstein and Sledge declined to comment individually on the incident.

Matthew Meiner, state treasurer of Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature and student at Vanderbilt University, was at the hearing when the protesters began shouting down legislators and refusing to leave.

"I understand their position, and I respect the right to protest, but it was kind of disappointing to see them disrupt the system," he said. "They made their points, but there are more orderly ways to do it."[2]

Progressive Student Alliance arrests

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In 2011, six of the people arrested in a protest James Sledge, 30, Jeffrey Lichtenstein, 25, Paul Garner, 22, Bennett Foster, 25, Leah Shoaf, 19 and Sally Joyner, 26 were with the Progressive Student Alliance at The University of Memphis.

Ash-Lee Henderson, 25, is from Chattanooga and an organization called Chattanooga Organized for Action.[3]

Memphis Socialist Party

Sally Joyner, Bennett Foster, and Paul Garner, were all members of the Memphis Socialist Party.[4]

People's Conference on Equal Justice

On Saturday, October 18 2014, members of the Memphis Socialist Party USA joined Memphis United and the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center for The People's Conference on Equal Justice at Lemoyne Owen College in Memphis. The conference featured workshops and discussions on Ferguson, private prisons, and grassroots organizing.

Members of the Memphis local of Socialist Party USA presented workshops on grassroots organizing, effective canvassing, and lady justice. Ace Madjlesi, co-chair, led a discussion on incarceration of women, which led the call to end shackling laws for incarcerated mothers giving birth in Tennessee. Co-chair Bennett Foster and Paul Garner taught students and community members how to strengthen grassroots movements, while secretary Brooke Shannon gave workshop-goers the tools they will need to coordinate their own door-to-door canvasses.[5]

SPUSA

In 2014 Ace Madjlesi, Brooke Shannon, Bennett Foster, Sam Rodgers, Paul Garner and Schaeffer Mallory. were members of the Memphis Chapter of the Socialist Party USA.[6]

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those invited, on Facebook included Bennett Foster.[7]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward

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Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

Those saying they would attend, on Facebook included Bennett Foster .[8]

PSA - Memphis Facebook group, 2017

Progressive Student Alliance - University of Memphis Facebook group, as of March 26, 2017;

Members include Bennett Foster , Memphis, Tennessee.

Memphis Socialist Party - Members Only Facebook group

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Members of the Memphis Socialist Party - Members Only Facebook Closed Group, as of August 10 2017 included Bennett Foster.[9]

"Introduction to Black Feminism"

"Intro to Black Feminism" hosted by Sendolo Diaminah Cazembe Jackson, and Adrienne Maree Brown.

Tuesday, August 15 at 8:30 PM

Created for Black August Practice Group.

Sendolo Diaminah August 15, 2017;

Black people! Tonight my beloved sister Adrienne Maree Brown is leading a web discussion about Black Feminism as part of a series of Black August political education sessions hosted by Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and BOLD.[10]

Those invited on Facebook include Bennett Foster.

Comrades

Brad Watkins October 24, 2016:

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The entire squad...headed for the playoffs. — with K-mo Kyamran Mohammad, Michael Krause, Paul Garner, Bennett Foster, Tamara Hendrix, Brooke Sarden, Elle Hearns, Zandria F. Robinson, Gio Lopez, Veronica Virgen, Ashley Caldwell, Justin A. Davis and Cynthia Bailey.

34th Anniversary of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Leaders

Bennett Foster came on to Memphis For All circa September, leading up to the 2018 mid-terms, and April Freeman came on shortly after. They are co-coordinators.[11]

References