For twenty years, we have published Spare Change News with limited money and staffing. In that time, we have published over 500 issues and have never missed an issue. Spare Change News is the nation’s oldest continuous street paper. SCN pioneered the homeless writer and leader model that has been emulated by papers throughout the world. As a member of the fourth estate (the press), our task is to hold the three branches of government accountable by pulling back the curtain on their inner workings and render elites accountable by informing everyday folks of those inner workings and unaccountable actions.
All of my adult life, I struggled for social justice, worked in social services and pastored in inner cities throughout the nation. I have a long history with working with the kind of population that makes up our vendor community; at one level it is the community that produced me. Our accent is on the voice of those who literally sleep outside our democracy.
As the new Editor-in-Chief, I am charged by the board to create a context for homeless and low income folks to speak their special truth to the world. I am guided by a tradition of writing embodied in the works of James Baldwin, Albert Camus, Susan Sontag, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, and my beloved grandmother, Houston Cannon. The original magazine format of Spare Change News, The Crisis Magazine under W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Camus’ Le Combattant and Jean Paul-Sartre’s Le Temps Modernes are touchstones for our new editorial direction.
SCN founders have called us to tell the stories that would not be told if we did not tell them. We are charged to focus on poverty, economic justice and homelessness. At our best, the most affected tell their stories themselves. While this paper will not end homelessness or poverty, we are one note in a cosmic symphony of justice and imagination.
I look forward to walking with you toward a great democratic day–when all are housed and fed; each person according to their own need, abiding in a nation that judges its greatest against the quality of life of the least of these. As the South African freedom song says, “The road is long, muddy, and hard but we will get there. We do not know how but we will get there.”
-Rev. Osagyefo Sekou