7: Josh Odam (Free Negro University) & DIY Activism
Josh Odam (Free Negro University)
WELCOME TO THE EDUPUNX PODCAST!
I am so stoked to share this week's conversation with Josh Odam. Josh and I met during my time as a grad student at UMass Amherst, where he was an undergraduate student. Through our interactions, I quickly learned about the poise and passion he possessed. It was magnetic.
Since I left the Amherst community, I stayed in the UMass family - as I now work at UMass Boston - and I have kept in close touch with Josh as he has developed his brand of DIY activism through a clothing line he created. Josh started Free Negro University as a way to spread some strength and solidarity to his friends and community members in Amherst and beyond.
Josh and I dig deep into the politics of race in America - especially in regard to the education system. Seeing as Josh is now a graduate student in Labor Studies, his perspectives on the intersections of race and the work force are incredibly nuanced and embattled. This was an informative and fun conversation and we hope you enjoy it!
- Early on in the chat, Josh discusses the impact of the organization, Harlem Mothers SAVE, and how it cultivated him into the man he is today. Check out more information on them by visiting
- Josh also credits his time at the Institute for Responsible Citizenship for creating a numbers of the relationships that lead to the creation of Free Negro University.
- Here is a great interview on how Free Negro University was created.
- Check out this piece that ran about Josh when he was campaigning for student trustee at UMass Amherst.
- And here is another article on when he and a number of other student orchestrated a sitdown protest for UMass Amherst to be declared a sanctuary campus.
- Check out two of Josh's favorite books, “This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed," by Charles E. Cobb, Jr., as well as "The Bluest Eye," by Toni Morrison
- If you haven't listened to “The Low-End Theory,” by A Tribe Called Quest, have you ever really lived?
- Josh and I are both big professional wrestling fans, and we both love Shinsuke Nakamura.
- You can watch Josh's favorite film of all-time, the Blaxploitation film, "The Spook Who Sat by the Door," in its entirety on YouTube!
- While we couldn't track down the exact article on colleges as plantations, the recent book from Craig Steven Wilder, "Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities" is a great look into the topic.
- Make sure to follow Josh on Instagram or Facebook by searching "Free Negro University."
- The intro and outro of the podcast feature the song, "List of Demands (Reparations)," by Saul Williams - which is apt given Josh's reference to the list of demands that the Black students at UMass Amherst in the 1960s presented to the campus and were still unresolved over 50 years later.
- Big thanks to our friends at Counter Intuitive Records - a DIY record label in Massachusetts that is dedicating to supporting new and up-and-coming bands - this week we feature a song from the folks in Sleeping Patterns.
- "Raindance" is off the new album, "A Little Blood Never Hurt Anyone" from Sleeping Patterns, which you can order a physical or digital copy from Sleeping Patterns by visiting SleepingPatterns.bandcamp.com or from Counter Intuitive Records at CounterIntuitiveRecords.com!
- This week we hyped the vinyl subscription service, Table Turned!
- Table-Turned is a DIY record-of-the-month club. Subscribers select from two genre options and receive a record each month for that genre, including some “classics” as well as albums they may have missed.
- Right now, subscribers can subscribe for $160 until August 31. At that point, the price goes up to $175, but they can also subscribe month-to-month for $15 a month. That option only lasts until October 31, when our month-to-month option expires until the next round. Round Two’s records ship before January 1.
- To learn more and/or to start your subscription, visit Table-Turned.com!
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See you next week!
Let's get to work.