3rd annual MAY DAY FREE UNIVERSITY in Madison Square Park

***WEATHER UPDATE: Rain or shine, it’s time to get free! We’re aware of the forecast for rain on Thursday morning, and are carefully watching weather predictions. It seems that the rain will clear up by late morning when we begin. Just in case, we ask you to bring umbrellas and plastic bags for sitting on the park benches.***

— Workshop Schedule —

Arts, Crafts, Food, Care, Info Hub

Children’s Art Zone and Free Store

both near Statue of Admiral Farragut at north central end of the park


May Day Free University Welcome and Statement of Intention


Susan Angus, Commission on Voluntary Service and Action
“How the 1% Still keeps the 99% Disorganized: How To Change That”
Circle A
This class will elucidate how the 1% become the 1% and stay there; how the 99% continue to be disorganized while growing poorer and poorer; and organizing strategies that are successful in turning this around.

Eric Darton, Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies
“The Dao of New York”
Circle B
Do great cities have a “way,” a “method,” and, by extension, “a rule of life,” or “process” that allows them to live robustly and nourish their inhabitants? If they do, what is the Dao of New York? And can we say that our City is living in harmony with it? This workshop is about regrounding ourselves in the practice of, action by action, conversation by conversation, learning a new art for defending our communities and mobilizing the energies within ourselves and the city as a whole.

Simone Kolysh, CUNY Graduate Center
“Raising Feminist, Gender-Critical Children”
Circle C
This class will discuss how to break down sex/gender/sexuality in the West to your children in order to raise them with an intersectional, feminist viewpoint. Specific examples and conversation starters will be provided. This is for everyone who wants to support their children’s developing gender identities outside the strict gender binary.

Max Liboiron, Superstorm Research Lab
“Mutual Aid Research Models and Methods”
Circle D
Mutual aid is characterized by solidarity (fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests) and reciprocity (mutual, though not necessarily symmetrical, exchange). A mutual aid model does not only seek to “do no harm,” it also strives to reciprocate, to respond, and to cooperate. It takes the processes and practices of research, not only its results, as a place to do meaningful normative & activist work. We will discuss some existing models and resources for transforming research ethics, methodologies, and methods for mutual aid and how they might be useful to attendees.

Fury Young, Die Jim Crow
“Music and the New Jim Crow”
Circle E
The class will begin with a history of mass incarceration and how it has affected African American communities. We will look at this history through the lens of the “New Jim Crow,” a la Michelle Alexander’s book. From there, we will discuss a music project called Die Jim Crow, a concept album of songs written and performed by formerly and currently incarcerated black musicians. We may also compose a song by the end of the class.


Tal Beery and Noah Fischer, Occupy Museums
“The Occupied Museum”
Circle A
Join Occupy Museums for an action planning session and discussion on the possibilities of bringing effective politics to the museum space. We start with a short presentation on our top tactics developed since 2011, including a discussion of our recent actions at the Guggenheim (with G.U.L.F., MTL, and Gulf Labor), and kick off a brainstorm on new museum occupation strategies. We will end by collectively cooking up a concrete occupation of a major New York museum. Stay later to continue the conversation and participate in a collective painting.

James Cersonsky, Young Worker Media Project
“Building the Young Worker Media Project”
Circle B
Everyone agrees, in some sense, that young workers are the future of labor. But that doesn’t guarantee us a voice in the movement, let alone at the workplace—or in broader public discourse. How can we take media into our own hands? And how can we coordinate it to bring together workers, students, and organizers across generations? Join the Young Worker Media Project to power-map the mediascape, discuss next steps for building a national committee, and brainstorm collaborative possibilities for using media—all kinds of media, from podcasting, to shopfloor writing, to spoken word—for rank-and-file movement building.

Liliana Gomez, South Mountain Co-op
“Democratic Free School Education”
Circle C
How can democratic education and schools empower students, facilitate democracy and create horizontalism? Come learn how democratic schools are paving the way for a new society.

Ben Katchor, NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium
“New York Comics & Picture-story Symposium”
Circle D
A discussion group for artist/writers working in various text-image forms: comics, picture-stories, animation, etc. at which to present and critique their current work. The symposium will examine new ideas for the distribution of print and electronic work that move beyond the existing models of publishing and advertising.

Anthony O’Brien, Secretary of International Committee, PSC-CUNY
“Education Commons in a Haitian Town”
Circle E
Radical students & community youth in a small town in southern Haiti come together to run Third-Cinema-type film screenings & discussions in the town square, music & performance, & practical organizing workshops about water, cholera, and political economy. Reversing the brain drain to the cities; claiming extra-institutional access to education; bringing organized thinking from the capital city to one’s hometown.

Making Worlds
“Health – Care/transformative commons practices”
Circle G
We will have a conversation on transformative practices of health and care in North and South, looking at and learning from the different struggles that have been taking place in the city.


Ilona Bito
“Ballet on the Barricades”
Circle G
Ballet Barre follows a traditional class structure to prepare for dancing, sensing the body and moving together. By engaging with the barricades as barres, we transform the boundaries of the park into a new space for learning and expression. 40 minutes, no experience necessary. Musicians are invited to accompany.

CUNY Divest
“CUNY taking action on climate change: DIVEST.”
Circle B
A discussion on the gargantuan task of organizing around climate change at the nation’s largest public urban university: CUNY. Students, alumni and faculty have come together from various CUNY schools to demand that the university DIVEST it’s stocks in fossil fuel companies were are exacerbating the climate change crisis. We have been met with “no”s and disregard from administration, but we have continued to organize with significant support from many students governments and the PSC union of 25,000 CUNY staff and faculty. Join us for a discussion on our work so far, the state of climate change, and what organizing across CUNY has been like. CUNY students are very encouraged to attend!

Nichole Davari, Marymount Manhattan College
“The Mismeasure of Poverty”
Circle A
My class will explore the criticisms of the current official U.S. poverty measure for adequacy and its failure to meet the needs of people. Numerous efforts at reform have been tried, but the United States government has been unresponsive. In my class I will propose that by collecting compelling narratives of those who are classified as living under the poverty line the urgent need for reform of the measurement will become obvious. I expect to create awareness of the incompetent measurement and answer why the classification of “poor” has been unchanged since 1969.

Intern Labor Rights
“What does a just internship look like? Deconstructing the intern economy”
Circle C
What are the rights of interns? How does the intersection of education, professional development, and compensation connect to broader issues of labor exploitation? Come join Intern Labor Rights in a collective exploration of what a “just” internship looks like through legal analyses, group story-sharing & visioning, and strategy-building!

Brooke McGowen, Radical Art Initiative
“Radical Design”
Circle D
We will study examples of political posters from historical revolutions and discuss their powerful visual effect. Then each student will create a design to illustrate a relevant issue from today. Please bring drawing materials or tablet, etc.

Lorenzo Raymond, New York Year Zero
“Diversity of Tactics in the Civil Rights Movement 1963-1964”
Circle E
Popular history characterizes the civil rights struggle as part of what historian Andrew Hartman calls the “good sixties” – a period when social movements were supposedly pacifistic and innately moderate–but the scholarly consensus is coming to agree that the Black freedom movement did not win its greatest victories until it resorted to radical and diverse tactics. CUNY historian Jeanne Theoharis recently wrote of “a dramatic shift in Civil Rights historiography… a host of new scholarship that, over the past decade, has… ushered a new set of characters and events to the stage and then begun to rewrite the entire play…the variety of tools employed in the fight for social change…reveal the “good” movement (1954-1965) only succeeded through its militant stepchild (Black Power).”

In the months leading up to “I have a dream” and President Kennedy’s proposal of the Civil Rights Act, blacks in Birmingham exploded in insurrection; even as the iconic pictures of pacifists bombarded with fire hoses were being taken, Life magazine photographer Charles Moore was injured by a brick thrown by a protester, intended for a fireman. The following month, blacks and whites exchanged gunfire in Cambridge, Maryland and Lexington, North Carolina; bottles flew at police in Jackson, Mississippi and buildings burned in Savannah, Georgia. The placid March on Washington was in many ways a victory celebration of a summer of rebellion that had put the country on notice. The months when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 wound its way through Congress, and when Malcolm X gave his “Ballot or the Bullet” speech throughout the country, were marked by similar confrontation.

As the mainstream media presents its sanitized retrospective of the movement in this era of civil rights anniversaries, join Lorenzo Raymond for a reclamation of People’s history and a salute to the mass militancy that changed America.

Juan Romero
“Drum Circle”
Circle H
We will jam out and share our energy through music!


Marea Violeta
“Women inJustice: Solidarity with Marissa Alexander”
Circle F
We will have a discussion on the situation of women and justice, focusing on the case of Marissa Alexander. Please, bring paper, colors, as we will create works of solidarity that we will send to Marissa in order to show her our solidarity and support. For more info, contact us:


Jeanne Flavin and Kyle Sunderlin, Fordham University/National Advocates for Pregnant Women
“Reproductive Justice & Resistance to the Drug War”
Circle A
From criminal justice to the civil child welfare system to mass media, we will explore the ways in which the U.S. drug war has been used to justify the punishment of pregnant people and their families, & offer concrete strategies for organizing drug war resistance.

Amin Husain, TIDAL
“Gentrification, Displacement, and Capitalism’s Accumulation by Dispossession”
Circle B
We will look at gentrification not only as an isolated socio-historic process rooted in white supremacy, but also in its broader context and global framework as a capitalist move of accumulation by dispossession. We will also talk about new initiatives being worked on as we speak to resist gentrification citywide with liberating territory, taking direct action, building communities of resistance and food sovereignty capacity, as well as solidarity economies.

Angela Mellon
“Herbs for Hormonal Gender Transition”
Circle D
Come learn about which plants support the mind and body through hormonal gender transition. What body systems do estrogen and testosterone therapy affect? How can herbs nourish those systems and restore balance if lost? This is a beginner herbalism workshop intended for trans* folks and their lovers, friends, and healers.

Carol Smith, PSC-CUNY
“Student Activism at CCNY in the 1930s: Lessons for Today”
Circle E
CCNY in the years of the Great Depression was a major center of student activism which led to the formation of two national organizations, the National Student League, and the American Student Union. These students fought to maintain free tuition, to remove ROTC from campus and campaigned for financial aid and job programs from the federal government.

Cynsei Sohbet
“Dancing for Freedom”
Circle H
Inspiring, motivating, and mobilizing – this was the magic of the music inspired by the Civil Rights Movement lead by artists in all genres of music. From the church-based hymns of the Freedom Singers to the popular music of Motown, music was the “soul of the movement” according to Martin Luther King Jr. and a participatory experience that gave Civil Rights organizers and activists strength and a sense of community. DANCING FOR FREEDOM continues this legacy of strength and community through music AND dance. “People Get Ready” because “A Change is Gonna Come”, so come and “Respect” that beat and move those feet! The dance class is open to all ages and experience levels.


Gather at the Admiral Farragut statue for final words of celebration. Then we’ll walk together to the May Day rally and march at Union Square.

*Free University picnic + summer visioning session*
Saturday, May 12, 12pm
Tompkins Square Park

*“Freedom Learning Practices: From Brisbane to NYC to Oaxaca”*
Left Forum panel featuring members of the Brisbane Free University (Australia), Free University-NYC, and Unitierra (Oaxaca, Mexico)
May 30-June 1