Si Kahn has worked for over 40 years as a civil rights, labor and community organizer and musician in the Southern United States. His songs of family, community, work and freedom such as "Aragon Mill" "Gone, Gonna Rise Again" and "Wild Rose of the Mountain" have been recorded by over 100 artists. Si is the executive director of Grassroots Leadership which is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. In November 2005 Berrett-Koehler published of The Fox in the Henhouse, How Privatization Threatens Democracy coauthored with Elizabeth Minnich and Si released his 14th CD, We're Still Here in 2004 on Strictly Country Records.
Si has released 14 albums of his original songs, plus a collection of traditional labor, civil rights and women's songs with Pete Seeger and Jane Sapp. Si's release is Been A Long Time on Sliced Bread featuring Laurie Lewis & Friends. (www.slicedbread.com) His 14th CD, We’re Still Here was recorded on tour in the Netherlands, and released in celebration of Si’s 60th birthday in April 2004. Dick Gaughan, Robin and Linda Williams, June Tabor and the Oyster Band, Patrick Street, Laurie Lewis and Grant Street, Dolores Keane and Planxty are a partial list of outstanding artists who have covered Kahn’s songs.
Si performs regularly at concerts and festivals throughout North America and Europe. He is a member of Local 1000 of the American Federation of Musicians, AFL-CIO; a trustee of the Labor Heritage Foundation; and the official poet laureate of the North Carolina labor movement by unanimous vote of the convention in 1986.
Si is the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, now in its 25th year. The Charlotte, North Carolina based tax-exempt organization is a multi-racial team of activists who do civil rights, labor and community organizing across the South. He also serves as campaign director for the Public Safety and Justice Campaign, a Southern, national and international campaign to abolish for-profit private prisons. The mission statement for the campaign reads:
"For-profit private prisons, jails and detention centers have no place in a democratic society. Profiteering from the imprisonment of human beings compromises public safety and corrupts justice. In the spirit of democracy and accountability, we call for an end to all incarceration for profit."
Kahn's lecture "Blood from Stone: Private Prisons and the Corruption of Justice" chronicles private prison abuses and the international movement to abolish them.
Si began his organizing career in 1965 in Arkansas with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, more popularly known as SNCC, the student wing of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. During the 1970s, he worked with the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) during the Brookside Strike in Harlan County, Kentucky. He was an Area Director of the J.P. Stevens Campaign for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU), now part of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE). He founded Grassroots Leadership in 1980 and has served as its executive director since.
Si has written two basic organizing handbooks, How People Get Power and Organizing: A Guide for Grassroots Leaders, both published by the National Association of Social Workers Press. He is the founder and a continuing board member of the Jewish Fund for Justice, a national Jewish foundation that supports local community organizing projects which deal with the root causes of poverty. Si is married to the feminist philosopher Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich. They have three adult children: Simon, Jesse and Gabriel. Gabe carries on the family musical tradition as a member of the hip-hop band Granola Funk Express. (Gabe's website can be found at: www.topshelfmusic.com)
Si Kahn is also an accomplished author and musician who incorporates his passion for people’s rights into his songwriting performances and lectures.