WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
MEMPHIS SANITATION WORKERS IN 1968
Longstanding tensions between disgruntled African American sanitation workers and Memphis city officials erupted on February 12, 1968 when nearly one thousand workers refused to report to work demanding higher wages, safer working conditions, and recognition of their union, local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. Despite organizing city-wide boycotts, sit-ins, and daily marches, the city’s sanitation workers were initially unable to secure concessions from municipal officials. At the urging of Reverend James T. Lawson, Martin Luther King, Jr. agreed to come to Memphis and lead a nonviolent demonstration in support of the sanitation workers. On March 29 over five thousand demonstrators, carrying signs which read “I Am A Man,” participated in King’s march. However, the peaceful demonstration took a turn for the worse when an estimated two hundred participants began breaking storefront windows and looting. The ensuing violence resulted in the death of Larry Payne, a sixteen year old African American who was killed by Memphis police officers, the imposition of a city-wide curfew, and the mobilization of nearly four thousand National Guard troops. Deeply troubled by the violent outbreak, King vowed to return to Memphis to lead a peaceful demonstration. On April 3, 1968, nearly two months after the initial start of the strike, King returned to Memphis and delivered what would be his last public speech. The following evening King was assassinated on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel. In the wake of King’s death, President Lyndon B. Johnson sent James Reynolds, undersecretary of labor, to Memphis to help resolve the strike. Nearly two weeks later on April 16, the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike ended when the city agreed to issue raises to African American employees and recognize the workers’ union.
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By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
African Americans are better off in many ways but are still
disadvantaged by racial inequality
The year 1968 was a watershed in American history and black America’s ongoing fight for equality. In April of that year, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis and riots broke out in cities around the country. Rising against this tragedy, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 outlawing housing discrimination was signed into law. Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a black power salute as they received their medals at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. Arthur Ashe became the first African American to win the U.S. Open singles title, and Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives.
The same year, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, better known as the Kerner Commission, delivered a report to President Johnson examining the causes of civil unrest in African American communities. The report named “white racism”—leading to “pervasive discrimination in employment, education and housing”—as the culprit, and the report’s authors called for a commitment to “the realization of common opportunities for all within a single [racially undivided] society.”1 The Kerner Commission report pulled together a comprehensive array of data to assess the specific economic and social inequities confronting African Americans in 1968.
Where do we stand as a society today? In this brief report, we compare the state of black workers and their families in 1968 with the circumstances of their descendants today, 50 years after the Kerner report was released. We find both good news and bad news. While African Americans are in many ways better off in absolute terms than they were in 1968, they are still disadvantaged in important ways relative to whites. In several important respects, African Americans have actually lost ground relative to whites, and, in a few cases, even relative to African Americans in 1968.
Following are some of the key findings:
- African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968 but still lag behind whites in overall educational attainment. More than 90 percent of younger African Americans (ages 25 to 29) have graduated from high school, compared with just over half in 1968—which means they’ve nearly closed the gap with white high school graduation rates. They are also more than twice as likely to have a college degree as in 1968 but are still half as likely as young whites to have a college degree.
- The substantial progress in educational attainment of African Americans has been accompanied by significant absolute improvements in wages, incomes, wealth, and health since 1968. But black workers still make only 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by white workers, African Americans are 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites, and the median white family has almost 10 times as much wealth as the median black family.
- With respect to homeownership, unemployment, and incarceration, America has failed to deliver any progress for African Americans over the last five decades. In these areas, their situation has either failed to improve relative to whites or has worsened. In 2017 the black unemployment rate was 7.5 percent, up from 6.7 percent in 1968, and is still roughly twice the white unemployment rate. In 2015, the black homeownership rate was just over 40 percent, virtually unchanged since 1968, and trailing a full 30 points behind the white homeownership rate, which saw modest gains over the same period. And the share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 and 2016 and is currently more than six times the white incarceration rate.
The most important development since 1968 is that African Americans today are much better educated than they were in 1968. These absolute improvements in educational attainment—including substantial increases in both high school and college completion rates—have opened important doors for black workers compared with their counterparts 50 years ago. In relative terms, African Americans today are almost as likely as whites to have completed high school. But even though the share of younger African Americans with a college degree has more than doubled, African Americans today are still only about half as likely to have a college degree as whites of the same age.
High school graduation rates. Over the last five decades, African Americans have seen substantial gains in high school completion rates. In 1968, just over half (54.4 percent) of 25- to 29-year-old African Americans had a high school diploma. Today, more than nine out of 10 African Americans (92.3 percent) in the same age range had a high school diploma. (See Table 1 for all data presented in this report.)
The large increase in high school completion rates helped to close the gap relative to whites. In 1968, African Americans trailed whites by more than 20 percentage points (75.0 percent of whites had completed high school, compared with 54.4 percent of blacks). In the most recent data, the gap is just 3.3 percentage points (95.6 percent for whites versus 92.3 percent for African Americans).
College graduation rates. College graduation rates have also improved for African Americans. Among 25- to 29-year-olds, less than one in 10 (9.1 percent) had a college degree in 1968, a figure that has climbed to almost one in four (22.8 percent) today.
Over the same period, however, college completion expanded for whites at a similar pace, rising from 16.2 percent in 1968 to 42.1 percent today, leaving the relative situation of African Americans basically unchanged: in 1968 blacks were just over half (56.0 percent) as likely as whites to have a college degree, a situation that is essentially the same today (54.2 percent).2
We would expect that these kinds of increases in the absolute levels of formal education would translate into large improvements in economic and related outcomes for African Americans. The rest of our indicators test the validity of this assumption.
The unemployment rate for African Americans in 2017 (the last full year of data) was 7.5 percent, 0.8 percentage points higher than it was in 1968 (6.7 percent). The unemployment rate for whites was 3.8 percent in 2017 and 3.2 percent in 1968.3
The unemployment data for these two years, almost 50 years apart, demonstrate a longstanding and unfortunate economic regularity: the unemployment rate for black workers is consistently about twice as high as it is for white workers.
Wages and income
Hourly wages. The inflation-adjusted hourly wage of the typical black worker rose 30.5 percent between 1968 and 2016, or about 0.6 percent per year. This slow rate of growth is particularly disappointing given the large increase in educational attainment among African Americans over these decades.
Even slower real wage growth (about 0.2 percent per year) for the typical white worker—albeit starting from a higher initial wage—meant that African Americans did modestly close the racial wage gap over the last five decades. But, in 2016, by the hourly wage measure used here, the typical black worker still only made 82.5 cents on every dollar earned by the typical white worker.4
Household income. The inflation-adjusted annual income of the typical African American household increased 42.8 percent between 1968 and 2016, slightly outpacing income growth for the typical white household (36.7 percent). But the typical black household today still receives only 61.6 percent of the annual income received by the typical white household.5
Poverty rates. The share of African Americans living in poverty has declined substantially in the last five decades. Using the official federal poverty measure as a benchmark, over one-third (34.7 percent) of African Americans were in poverty in 1968. Today, the share in poverty is just over one in five (21.4 percent). For whites, the decline in the poverty rate was much smaller, from 10.0 percent in 1968 to 8.8 percent in 2016. In the most recent data, African Americans are about 2.5 times as likely to be in poverty as whites. (In 1968, they were 3.5 times as likely to be in poverty.)6
The typical black family had almost no wealth in 1968 ($2,467; data refer to 19637). Today, that figure is about six times larger ($17,409), but it is still not that far from zero when you consider that families typically draw on their wealth for larger expenses, such as meeting basic needs over the course of retirement, paying for their children’s college education, putting a down payment on a house, or coping with a job loss or medical crisis.
Over the same period, the wealth of the typical white family almost tripled, from a much higher initial level. In 2016, the median African American family had only 10.2 percent of the wealth of the median white family ($17,409 versus $171,000).8
Homeownership. One of the most important forms of wealth for working and middle-class families is home equity. Yet, the share of black households that owned their own home remained virtually unchanged between 1968 (41.1 percent) and today (41.2 percent). Over the same period, homeownership for white households increased 5.2 percentage points to 71.1 percent, about 30 percentage points higher than the ownership rate for black households.9
Infant mortality. Over the last five decades, African Americans have experienced enormous improvements in infant mortality rates. The number of deaths per 1,000 live births has fallen from 34.9 in 1968 to 11.4 in the most recent data. Over the same period, whites have also seen dramatic reductions in infant mortality, with rates falling from 18.8 to 4.9 by the same measure.
In relative terms, however, African Americans have fallen behind. In 1968, black infants were about 1.9 times as likely to die as white infants. Today, the rate is 2.3 times higher for African Americans.10
Life expectancy. African Americans’ life expectancy at birth has also increased substantially (up 11.5 years) between 1968 and today, outpacing the increase for whites (up 7.5 years). But an African American born today can, on average, still expect to live about 3.5 fewer years than a white person born on the same day.11
The share of African Americans in prison or jail almost tripled between 1968 (604 of every 100,000 in the total population) and 2016 (1,730 per 100,000).
The share of whites in prison or jail has also increased dramatically, but from a much lower base. In 1968, about 111 of every 100,000 whites were incarcerated. In the most recent data, the share has increased to 270 per 100,000.
In 1968, African Americans were about 5.4 times as likely as whites to be in prison or jail. Today, African Americans are 6.4 times as likely as whites to be incarcerated, which is especially troubling given that whites are also much more likely to be incarcerated now than they were in 1968Post Views: 167
By Elliot Booker — 2 years ago
The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is anchored in the vision and macro-strategy of the Jackson-Kush Plan. The Jackson-Kush Plan, as you will read later in this book, was formulated by the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) between 2004 and 2010, to advance the development of the New Afrikan Independence Movement and hasten the socialist transformation of the territories currently claimed by the United States settler-colonial state. And as noted in several articles throughout the book, Cooperation Jackson is a vehicle specifically created to advance a key component of the Jackson-Kush Plan, namely the development of the solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi to advance the struggle for economic democracy as a prelude towards the democratic transition to eco-socialism.
Although Cooperation Jackson is rooted in an ideological framework, vision and macro-strategy, it is not a static organization. Like any dynamic organization we do our best to center our practice on addressing the concrete conditions of our space, time and conditions and to align our theory with our practice. As such, our program and strategy are constantly adapting and evolving to address new challenges and seize new opportunities. And it will continue to do so.
The fundamental program and strategy of Cooperation Jackson is intended to accomplish four fundamental ends: 1) to place the ownership and control over the primary means of production directly in the hands of the Black working class of Jackson, 2) to build and advance the development of the ecologically regenerative forces of production in Jackson, Mississippi, 3) to democratically transform the political economy of the city of Jackson, the state of Mississippi, and the southeastern region, and 4) to advance the aims and objectives of the Jackson-Kush Plan, which are to attain self-determination for people of African descent and the radical, democratic transformation of the state of Mississippi (which we see as a prelude to the radical decolonization and transformation of the United States itself).
We define the means of production as the physical, non-human inputs that enable humans to transform the natural world to provide sustenance for themselves. The inputs in question are arable land, access to water, natural resources (wood, metals, minerals, etc.), and the tools and facilities that enable the cultivation of food and the transformation of raw materials into consumable goods and services, and the production or capturing of energy to power the tools and facilities. We also add control over processes of material exchange and energy transfer to our definition to give it greater clarity and force of meaning in line with our commitment to sustainability and environmental justice. The processes we feel are therefore necessary to control are the processes of distribution, consumption, and recycling and/or reuse. Without assuming some responsibility for these processes, we merely perpetuate the dynamics of externalization, particularly the production of pollution and the stimulation of waste from overproduction, that are inherent in the capitalist mode of production.
A population or people that does not have access to and control over these means and processes cannot be said to possess or exercise self-determination. The Black working class majority in Jackson does not have control or unquestionable ownership over any of these means or processes. Our mission is to aid the Black working class in Jackson, and the working class overall, attain them.
On the question of building the productive forces in Jackson, it should be noted that while Jackson is the largest city in the state of Mississippi, and arguably the most industrialized city in the state, it is not and never has been a major center or hub of industrial production. Like most of the Deep South, Mississippi’s development as a settler-colonial state has fundamentally been contingent upon the extraction of natural resources, such as timber for colonial and antebellum era ship building, and cash crop agriculture, such as cotton, tobacco, sugarcane, and rice, which were primarily sold as international commodities (see “Exploiting Contradictions” section below). Mississippi, like most of the South (North Carolina, Florida, and Texas being unique exceptions each in their own right), has not been able to break out of its historic position within the U.S. and world capitalist system of being a site of resource extraction and the super-exploitation of labor. One of our primary tasks is to break this structural relationship by playing a leading role in industrializing Jackson, first and foremost, then the Kush district, and eventually the entirety of Mississippi.
In many respects, we are positioning ourselves to act as a “developer”, which is normally a role that is exclusively played by the bourgeoisie, i.e. the capitalist class, or the state. We are aiming to upend this paradigm on many levels and in several strategic ways. One, we are seeking to negate the role of capital being the primary determinate of the social development of Jackson (see point below about exploiting the dynamic of uneven development within the capitalist system below), by situating this role in the hands of the working class through the agency of its own autonomous organizations and its control over the municipal state apparatus. But, we are not seeking to replicate the dynamics of “development” in the standard capitalist sense. The central dynamic in our quest to upend the old aims, norms, processes and relationships of capitalist development, which have little to no regard for the preservation of the environment and ecology, and replace them with new norms that are fixed first and foremost on repairing the damage done to our environment and ecosystems, and creating new systems that will ultimately regenerate the bounty of life on our planet, in all its diversity. This will be possible by strategically incorporating, utilizing, and innovating upon the technologies of the third and (emerging) forth waves of the industrial revolution, which enable the elimination of scarcity, but within ecological limits (see more on this point below). What we aim to do is make Jackson a hub of community production, which is anchored by 3D print manufacturing for community consumption, i.e. direct use-value consumption, and commodity production, to exchange value in consumer markets. How we plan to advance this initiative will be discussed in more detail below.
In order to democratically transform the capitalist world-economy, we have to transform the agent central to this process, the working class, into a democratic subject. This transformation starts with the self-organization of the working class itself. Although not foreign to the working class historically by any means, particularly to the Black working class in the United States (which was often left solely to its own ends for self-defense and survival), worker self-organization is not a common feature of the class at present. This is a dynamic that we must change in Jackson (and beyond).
Now, to be clear on terms, self-organization means first and foremost workers directly organizing themselves through various participatory means (unions, assemblies, etc.) primarily at their places of work or points of production, but also where they live, play, pray, and study. The point of this self-organization is for workers to make collective, democratic decisions about how, when, and to what ends their labor serves, and about how to take action collectively to determine the course of their own lives and the animus of their own actions.
We will not and cannot accomplish any of the core ends described above without stimulating the self-organization of the Black working class in Jackson on a mass scale. While Cooperation Jackson, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the broad forces aligned with the Jackson-Kush Plan have made some significant social and political advances and demonstrated our capacity to reach the masses, particularly in the electoral arena, we still haven’t stimulated the self-organization of the Black working class on a mass scale. More work, profoundly more, must be done to accomplish the main tasks in this regard, which are to elevate and strengthen the class-consciousness of the community, foster and cultivate new relationships of social solidarity amongst the working class, and co-construct and advance new social norms and values rooted in radical ecological and humanitarian principles. In effect, what we are aiming to do is develop a new transformative culture.
In order to reinforce the development of this new culture within the present confines of Mississippi and the overall capitalist world-system, we have to harness the power of the Black working class and utilize it politically to eliminate the structural barriers blocking the “legal” development of the solidarity economy within the state. One of the main things we have to eliminate are the Mississippi legal statutes that presently restrict cooperatives to farming businesses, utilities, and credit unions. We have to create a new legal framework and paradigm that will enable any form of productive endeavor to become a cooperative or solidarity enterprise.
In the Jackson context it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy. Again, we have taken some baby steps in this direction with the Mayoral election of Chokwe Lumumba in 2013 and the founding of Cooperation Jackson in 2014. But, we have a long way to get where we desire and need to be.
“Politics without economics is symbol without substance”. This old Black Nationalist adage summarizes and defines Cooperation Jackson’s relationship to the Jackson-Kush Plan and the political aims and objectives of the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in putting it forward. Without a sound economic program and foundation the Jackson-Kush Plan is nothing more than a decent exposition of revolutionary nationalist politics. Cooperation Jackson is the vehicle we have collectively created to insure that we do more than just espouse good rhetoric, but engage in a concrete struggle to create a democratic economy that will enable Black and other colonized, oppressed and exploited people to exercise self-determination in Mississippi (and beyond).
We have to be clear, crystal clear, that self-determination is unattainable without an economic base. And not just your standard economic base, meaning a capitalist oriented one, but a democratic one. Self-determination is not possible within the capitalist social framework, because the endless pursuit of profits that drives this system only empowers private ownership and the individual appropriation of wealth by design. The end result of this system is massive inequality and inequity. We know this from the brutality of our present experience and the nightmares of history demonstrated to us time and time again over the course of the last 500 years.
We strive to build a democratic economy because it is the surest route to equity, equality, and ecological balance. Reproducing capitalism, either in its market oriented or state-dictated forms, will only replicate the inequities and inequalities that have plagued humanity since the dawn of the agricultural revolution. We believe that the participatory, bottom-up democratic route to economic democracy and eco-socialist transformation will be best secured through the anchor of worker self-organization, the guiding structures of cooperatives and systems of mutual aid and communal solidarity, and the democratic ownership, control, and deployment of the ecologically friendly and labor liberating technologies of the forth industrial revolution.
As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained with the nation-state edifice. However, we are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn’t dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats. We are clear that economic democracy and the transition to eco-socialism have to come from below, not from above. That workers and communities have to drive the social transformation process through their self-organization and self-management, not be subject to it. This does not mean that individuals, organizations, and political forces shouldn’t try to intervene or influence the development of the working class and our communities. We believe that we should openly and aggressively present our best ideas, programs, strategies, tactics, plans, etc. to the working class and to our communities in open forums, discussions, town halls, assemblies, etc., and debate them out in a principled democratic fashion to allow the working class and our communities to decide for themselves whether they make sense and are worth implementing and pursuing.
The following was an excerpt from the forthcoming book Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson Rising is a chronicle of one of the most dynamic, but under-documented experiments in radical social transformation taking place in the United States. The book documents the ongoing organizing and institution building of the political forces concentrated in Jackson, Mississippi dedicated to advancing the “Jackson-Kush Plan”. These forces include the Jackson People’s Assembly, the New Afrikan People’s Organization, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Jackson Human Rights Institute and Cooperation Jackson.
The “Jackson-Kush Plan” is a strategy written by Kali Akuno and collectively developed by activists in the New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in the mid-2000’s to advance the struggle for socialism in the United States and self-determination for people of Afrikan descent in Mississippi and the US South.
To read more Click or Copy link: http://atlantablackstar.com/2017/05/21/build-fight-program-strategy-cooperation-jackson/Post Views: 173
By Elliot Booker — 8 months ago
“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 11/04/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Kwadwo Lewis. Mr. Lewis is back to tell us some of the latest features and apps on the World’s #1 Largest Afrikan=Black Social Education Network, https://www.abibitumi.com/Post Views: 367