The Blueprint For The Most Radical City On The Planet

“If we do not save the environment, then whatever we do in civil rights, or in a war against poverty, then whatever we do will be of no meaning because then we will have the equality of extinction.”


Published:

The Mississippi State Capitol in downtown Jackson.

In July 2017, 34 year old Chokwe Antar Lumumba was sworn in as Mayor of Jackson Mississippi. He soon announced that the city was going to be “the most radical city on the planet.” This was not an idle boast because Jackson Mississippi, of all places, is where one of the country’s most radical experiments in social and economic transformation is happening.  

For years, people in Jackson have been organizing to build and sustain community power. They created Cooperation Jackson to take concrete steps to make human rights a reality for all by changing their democratic process and their economy.

Their goal is self-determination for people of African descent, particularly the Black working class. The vehicle is the building of a solidarity economy in Jackson Mississippi on a democratic economic base. The long range plan is to participate in a radical transformation of the entire state of Mississippi and ultimately the radical democratic and economic transformation of the United States itself.

The story of how Jackson Mississippi is being transformed and its plans for the future are set out in the new book JACKSON RISING: The Struggle for Economic Democracy, Socialism and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi, edited by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya.

This book details the history of how Jackson became the center of an epic campaign of organizing for Black self-determination politically and economically. It explains the philosophy undergirding this work, how cooperative economics works, and the community’s concrete plans for present and future building.  

History

Mississippi, despite arguably the most racist and violent government in the country, has always had its freedom fighters. It has also been the home to outstanding organizing.  While no social movement can be captured in one person’s story, one narrative is instructive to highlight important markers along the road to progress in Jackson Mississippi.

In 1971, Chokwe Lumumba, father of the current mayor, first came to Jackson along with a number of seasoned organizers who were part of the Republic of New Afrika Peoples Organization, a group advocating for Black self-governance and self-determination in the U.S. South. Though he left Mississippi to finish law school he returned and with others co-founded the Malcom X Grassroots Movement, a progressive multiracial organizing community, in 1990.

One of their organizing efforts was the creation of a series of Peoples’ Assemblies. The assemblies, often hosted at Black churches, were vehicles for local low income residents to practice self-determination and local governance. These assemblies have become a building block in the philosophy and practice of the changing of Jackson.

The first Peoples’ Assembly was organized in a city council district that in 2009 elected Chokwe Lumumba as their city council representative. Peoples’ Assemblies began organizing citywide. They focused both on self-determination projects and changing city policies. Citywide organizing by Peoples’ Assemblies ultimately set the foundation for a mayoral run for Chokwe Lumumba.

The 2013 election of Chokwe Lumumba as Mayor of Jackson signaled the beginning of a new phase of community driven economic democracy.

Unfortunately, he unexpectedly died in February 2014 on the exact day that significant plans were due to be presented to the city council. Those plans were further derailed when his son, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, who was openly dedicated to continuing the work, was defeated in a special election.

Now with Chokwe Antar Lumumba as Mayor, the nation’s attention has turned back to Jackson, but it has been organizing for years. And the progress is not just political, it is economic as well.

Cooperation Jackson

Despite the death of Chokwe Lumumba in 2014, Cooperation Jackson was launched in 2014.

Cooperation Jackson is an initiative to help address the material needs of Jackson’s low income and working class communities through cooperative economic efforts. Without government support it rose autonomously and created a network of worker cooperatives, a community land trust and a network of urban farms.

The book explains the basics of cooperative economics and documents a long tradition of cooperative economic models in the African American community. Ella Baker, Marcus Garvey, Fannie Lou Hamer, A. Philip Randolph and many others pressed for coops seeing them as pathways for economic liberation. Dr. W.E. DuBois wrote in 1933 “We can by consumers and producers cooperation establish a progressively self-supporting economy that will weld the majority of our people into an impregnable, economic phalanx.”

A federation of local cooperatives and mutual aid networks, Cooperation Jackson, has many concrete forms including an urban farming coop, a food coop, a cooperative credit union, a hardware coop, and a cooperative insurance plan. They plan to be an incubator for more coop startups, a school, a training center, a cooperative credit union, a bank, a community land trust, community financial institutions like credit unions, housing cooperative, childcare cooperative, solar and retrofitting cooperative, tool lending and resource libraries, community energy production. They are also working to build an organizing institute and a workers union.

Cooperation Jackson is an economic movement, a human rights movement and a movement insistent on environmentally sustainable progress. They work for clean air and water, zero waste, and against toxic industries. They explicitly recognize the wisdom of James Farmer, “If we do not save the environment, then whatever we do in civil rights, or in a war against poverty, then whatever we do will be of no meaning because then we will have the equality of extinction.”

The book includes essays on Jackson by a beautiful mix of radical voices including Hakima Abbas, Kali Akuno, Kate Aronoff, Ajamu Baraka, Sara Bernard, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Carl Davidson, Bruce Dixon, Laura Flanders, Kamau Franklin, Katie Gilbert, Sacajawea “Saki” Hall, Rukia Lumumba, Ajamu Nangwaya, Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Max Rameau, Michael Siegel, Bhaskar Sunkara, Makani Themba-Nixon, Jazmine Walker and Elandria Williams.   

Whether Jackson Mississippi can indeed become the most radical city in the world is as yet unknown. But it is definitely off to a concrete start and that itself is both instructive and inspirational.

Bill Quigley is Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years. He volunteers with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and the Bureau de Avocats Internationaux (BAI) in Port au Prince. Contact Bill at quigley77@gmail.com.

This article was republished from Common Dreams.

See also:
8 Inspiring Documentaries Exploring The Sharing Movement
This Massachusetts Town Shows What A Sustainable Economy Looks Like

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

August 14, 2018

Early morning moods may be somewhat subdued. The Libra Moon is at odds with dour Saturn. Life can feel like an unending series of chores and tests but there’s no escaping pressing needs. Do what must be done. As midday nears moods are on an upswing…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

August 2018

A fantastic shopping and educational experience for the whole family! Vendors come from New England, across the US, and many foreign countries to exhibit minerals, fossils, gemstones, jewelry,...

Cost: $8 adults, under 13 free

Where:
Eastern States Exposition
1305 Memorial Ave.
West Springfield, MA  01089
View map »


Sponsor: LLD Productions, Inc.
Telephone: 505-867-0425
Contact Name: Regina Aumente
Website »

More information

Readings, healings, vendors, presentations.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn
85 Glastonbury Blvd.
South Glastonbury, CT  06066
View map »


Website »

More information

During the weekend of August 10-12, 2018 we will gather again at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts for the 44th Annual NOFA SC. This immersive annual gathering is an opportunity to come...

Cost: See website

Where:
Hampshire College
Amherst, MA


Sponsor: Northeast Organic Farming Association
Telephone: 774-262-7986
Contact Name: Marjorie Bailey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 13 - 17, 9am - 1pm Instructor: Peyton Pugmire For student entering grades 6-8 iPhones are amazing, but you know what’s even more amazing? You! During this imaginative week...

Cost: $250

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Website »

More information

August 13 - 16 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/16)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

August 13 - 14 This fun and exciting healing workshop guarantees you valuable knowledge and powerful skills to keep you in a higher vibration of energy and flowing with infinite intelligence and...

Where:
Royal Plaza Best Western
Marlborough, MA


Sponsor: Geozuwa
Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

August 13 - 21 With NLP training and master healer certification. This course is specifically designed for healers of every modality. For information call (646) 606-9935 or visit...

Where:
Marlboro, MA


Telephone: 646-606-9935
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 14 - 24 For millennia people have entered the wilderness to encounter Spirit and seek their direction, purpose, or medicine. If you are seeking guidance and renewal, or you’re...

Cost: $1295

Where:
Somerset Lake
P.O. Box 48
Putney, VT  05346
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Air and Stone
Telephone: 802-387-6624
Contact Name: Sparrow Hart
Website »

More information

What better way to end a busy day than with a little bliss. We'll support your body right where it is today and help you to open your spine to find more movement and flexibility. Begin and end...

Cost: $18

Where:
Body Love Wellness Center
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Yoga is an ancient behavioral practice that allows for the development and enhancement of mind-body skills and behavioral factors including physical functioning, self-regulation of internal...

Cost: Free

Where:
CIC Cambridge
One Broadway
Charles Conference Room, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA  02142
View map »


Sponsor: CIC Wellness
Telephone: 617-953-0674
Contact Name: Shakti Rowan
Website »

More information

Barbara Macias will present an information workshop on the benefits of essential oils. A demonstration of the oils will be included. Please RSVP at katboston@comcast.net

Cost: Free

Where:
NBA Business Center
145 Washington Street
Route 53
Norwell, MA  02061
View map »


Sponsor: Mind Balance Hypnosis
Telephone: 339-788-1193
Contact Name: Kathryn Caruso

More information

Relax and restore this summer with free outdoor yoga classes on historic Rogers Field! We’re packing the lawn with yogis of all levels for yoga led by experienced practitioners from Dragonfly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rogers Field
Devens, MA


Sponsor: Dragonfly Wellness Center
Telephone: 978-487-7181
Contact Name: Anne Ferguson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

August 16 - 19 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

August 16 - 19 Juan Li has been teaching Daoist energy practices for the last 27 years. He has created a sequence of practices based on the I Ching, adapted to the emotional and mental...

Cost: $950 single retreat; $1650 for both retreats (8/13)

Where:
Angels’ Rest Retreat
63 North County Road
Leyden, MA  01337
View map »


Sponsor: Tao Retreats
Telephone: 212-243-6771
Contact Name: Sharon Smith
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With June Edward, “The Massachusette Medium” This is a mediumship gallery with June Edward, the “Massachusetts Medium!” Have you ever wanted to talk to someone on the...

Cost: $55 on Eventbrite, $60 at door

Where:
Plymouth Lodge AF & AM
116 S Meadow Rd
Plymouth, MA  02360
View map »


Sponsor: June Edward “The Massachusetts Medium”
Telephone: 508-259-1231
Contact Name: June Edward
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Guide: Peyton Pugmire Ages 16+ Like meditating with a paintbrush! Escape your stress and routine and re-connect with yourself, your heart and soul - one brushstroke at a time. This fun...

Cost: $85 (includes cost of all supplies)

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Peyton Pugmire
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags