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Feeling Political Transcript - Episode Four, Rita Valenti: This is a teachable moment

What questions should we be asking now? Rita Valenti, former board member of Project South and former state legislator, has some ideas. This episode of Feeling Political focuses on the big picture, a way forward. Learn more about Project South at You can find out more about Feeling Political and The Alternative Historian at


FEELING POLITICAL - Episode Four, Rita Valenti: This is a teachable moment
Released: December 28, 2016
Length: 5:58 minutes


I mean obviously it’s a very dangerous time.


I don’t know about you…


On the other hand, it’s a teachable moment.


But I’m feeling political…

This is a podcast series about emotions and politics and the actions we take. Or the actions we think we should take. Or the actions we wish we could take. I'm talking to people about how they feel and what they want to do based on those feelings. 

We’re back to Project South this week. This episode we’ll hear from Rita Valenti, an RN, labor rights organizer, and a former member of the Georgia legislature. This interview was conducted during the Project South 30th anniversary celebration in November on the sidewalk in front of Pal’s Lounge. 

Here’s Rita Valenti.

Rita Valenti

I’m Rita Valenti. I’m a retired nurse. I ran for office and won, mostly with the backing of registered nurses, in 1990. Then decided that I wasn’t going to run again. The reason that I ran was to give a voice to certain issues that were developing at the time. That was homelessness and the whole question around labor pools. That was the Up & Out of Poverty NOW! Which is still our task, is up and out of poverty now.

I think that this is part of the revolutionary process of this country. On the one hand, and I’m sort of paraphrasing from a good friend who said something similar to this, Trump’s election was not expected but it was not a surprise. Obviously it’s a very dangerous time. This is not a repeat of history. We’re in a new historic moment in this country on the one hand. On the other hand it’s a teachable moment. I mean a lot of people have woken up about what the direction of this country is. If you’ve got a system that is obviously collapsing all around you, a system of capitalism that can no longer meet the needs of the people, and attack certain sections of the class in order to keep the class divided, then you have to look at what kind of system do we actually need in the future. But also be very concrete about what are the problems we face and how do we solve them in the moment. If we don’t have a vision of what possibilities we have in the future, it’s just react, react, react. We have to go on the offensive too.

A lot of people are asking, “What do we do?” I think the first question maybe to ask before what do we do is, “Why are we here?” What do we understand about that? What is the possibility for a real transformation of society? Where it’s not just a wishful thinking, but it becomes a necessity for humanity. I work with some folks who essentially think we can turn back to some kind of FDR, New Deal society. Where capitalism can kind of be moderated. Whereas I think for the first time in human history we’re actually faced with an abundance of wealth, of knowledge, of resources, and whatnot. But the distribution is all off. And there’s no consideration, obviously, for the health of the earth.

It’s a teachable moment. It’s a time where we can reach out and move a whole society forward, that’s based on an understanding that we can have a cooperative, collaborative, collective, healthy society. It’s not just that we can have it, it’s actually an option that we have. That makes me optimistic about the future, but it doesn’t make me foolish about the danger of the moment. 


That was former Project South board member, former Georgia legislator, and present activist Rita Valenti.

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Feeling Political is produced by Daniel Horowitz Garcia, the Alternative Historian. The series will be part of the history podcast Change Over Time, coming in Spring 2017. Sign up on the newsletter at We are part of Amplify, an oral history podcast network bringing podcasting to the field of oral history.

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