|On his way into work every morning, Chokwe Lumumba, the late mayor of Jackson, Miss., used to pass a historical marker: “Jackson City Hall: built 1846-7 by slave labor.”
The building, like the city around it, came into being when African American lives didn’t count for much. Unpaid black workers created Mississippi’s plantation fortunes; as recently as the 1960s, their descendants were still earning $3 to $6 a day as sharecropper farmers. Today, black Jacksonians are almost 10 times as likely as white residents to live in poverty or surrounded by it. There’s no need for a historical marker to trace the roots of the city’s enormous wealth gap. The question is how to narrow it.
Mayor Lumumba had a plan. Believing that history of a new sort could be made here in Jackson, he sought to use public spending to boost local wealth through worker owned cooperatives, urban gardening, and a community-based approach to urban development. His vision, developed over years in social movements, not only prized black experience and drew on the survival strategies that black Americans had come up with over the decades, but also set out to prioritize in the city’s policies the very people who until now had been on the bottom of the state's list. The goal, he said, was “revolutionary transformation.”
In promoting what he called “solidarity economics,” Mayor Lumumba was continuing a long tradition. “Name any famous African American leader, Ella Baker, [W. E. B.] Dubois, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph, they were all proponents of co-ops,” says Jessica Gordon Nembhard, author of Collective Courage, a new book on the African American experience with worker-owned cooperatives.
“I can’t find any era when most of our leaders weren’t talking about co-ops in one form or another,” says Gordon Nembhard.
“The most significant things happen in history when you get the right people in the right place at the right time, and I think that’s what we are,” Mayor Lumumba told me this February in Jackson.
Less than two weeks later, on Feb. 25, he died after just seven months in office. Now Jacksonians are working to keep his vision alive, not just for the sake of their city, but as a model of alternative development for the nation. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005—Cornyn: Violence against judges understandable:
|Remarks by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) on the Senate floor today:
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, jobs report day gives us an opportunity to note record corporate profits & CEO pay alongside a drop in avg. hourly compensation for everyone else. Greg Dworkin joins us for a look at the report landscape, the daily ACA news roundup, and to check in on the Gop 2016 sweepstakes. A closer look at how CEOs are making out while the rest of us lose. Speaking of CEOs, Don Blankenship formerly of the Upper Big Branch mine-exploding Massey Energy Co. has a new "documentary" film out saying he's awesome & its all everybody else's fault. More on McCutcheon, from Dahlia Lithwick and Jeff Toobin.