Fight For Your Rights
At first glance, Jeffrey Kazembe-Batts, seems to be your average CWE student. He works 8 to 10 hour days as the Communications Coordinator for Student Life at Laguardia Community College before his 6 'O'Clock class here at the Center. However there is so much more to Jeffrey than what meets the eye.
Jeffrey is a civil rights advocate on the frontline of the battle to protect the rights of human beings everywhere. When his best friend's father was murdered in 1978, Batts made the decision to become involved in social justice work and community organizing. "Since then, I have been involved in the fight against Police Brutality and murder cases, anti-apartheid and anti-tuition hike college protests," says Jeffrey.
Although his work spans across the globe, Jeffrey keeps a very close eye on native borough, Brooklyn. Jeffrey is one of the founders of the annual Universal Hip-Hop parade that runs along the famous Fulton Mall in Brooklyn. He also organizes massive rallies and protests in Crown Heights, under the name CHANT. In addition to his current activity in the community, he has also served as: field organizer for Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network and co-chair of the Michael Stewart Justice Committee.
More recently, Jeffrey and his organization worked to prevent the closing of the Slave Theater, located near the intersection of Fulton Street and Bedford Avenue in Bed-Stuy. " We collected petitions, held rallies, contacted elected officials and held open-mics to raise awareness about he impending closure of the Slave Theater," says Jeffrey. The Slave Theater , which is where much of the Black Power movement was organized during the late 1980's and early 90's, is being sold by the Brooklyn Legal Establishment after its owner, Judge John Phillips, died a year ago, leaving no heirs to his property. Jeffrey remembers that Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Attorney Alton H. Maddox, Kwame Toure, more commonly known as Stokely Carmichael of the Black Panther Party, Minister Khallid Muhammad, afrocentric Dr. Regent AdelaideL. Sanford, Dr. John Henrick Clarke and Betty Shabazz were among those in regular attendance at the legendary Wednesday evening rallies.
effrey is also an active member of the Laguardia campus community, organizing special events, disaster relief, the campus online radio station and much more. This year, he organized a three-day celebration of African Heritage at the school. Musician and activist, Wyclef Jean, founder of the non-profit Yele Haiti, came to the event to thank Laguardia students for the $2,000 they raised for victims of the four hurricanes that hit Haiti in 2008.
Jeffrey says that one of his most memorable experiences in his fight for justice, was meeting the president and prime minister of Haiti. He hopes to one-day build an institution dedicated to Pan-African development. "Organizing comes naturally [to me] because my organizing or activism is always at the forefront," says Jeffrey.