Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi is a chronicle of one of the most dynamic experiments in radical social transformation 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”.Read More
If ever there was a city that needed to change how it manages its resources, that city is Jackson. As we all know, our beloved city is in a major financial crisis. The city is currently carrying a serious debt load from inflated staffing and gross mismanagement by the previous administration; and trying to address acute financial obligations mandated by the Federal government to modernize our infrastructure, particularly our water delivery infrastructure, which currently poses a serious health risk to our population—particularly our children—from lead contamination. But, in truth, these are only surface problems.
The deeper problem confronting Jackson is its declining tax base and constrained revenue streams. These problems flow from decades of divestment, deindustrialization, white and Black middle-class flight, and competition with the suburban areas developed and supported by this flight. On top of this, there is the political constraint that Jackson cannot create new tax policies to generate more revenue for the city without the approval of the state legislature. But all these dynamics are just symptoms of the systems that oppress and dehumanize us, namely the systems of white supremacy and capitalism.
So, the question is, given these constraints, what can we do to improve the provision of services in our community to better our overall quality of life? One answer is that we have to do a better job of managing the limited resources that we have. But how we do that is very, very important. The dominant way this is done these days is to follow the logic of neoliberalism, which calls for greater austerity and the privatization of the essential goods and services provided by a municipality, like water, electricity, public transportation, public housing, etc. This is NOT the route that we want to go, as it creates misery wherever it is implemented. We have to go a different route, one based on actually listening to people and taking their direct needs into account.
The method that we advocate be used is Human Rights Budgeting.
What is Human Rights Budgeting (HRB)? First and foremost, HRB is a type of participatory budgeting that centers on realizing the fundamental needs that enable us to be fully human, as laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the full body of human rights norms, standards, treaties, and obligations. The key elements of this practice can be summarized in the following manner*:
- Participation: a participatory, transparent process in which decisions about spending and raising public money get made directly by the people, especially by those most impacted by current injustice. Such a process should be guided by principles and criteria (so that it’s not a simple exercise of who has the greatest numbers or the loudest voice); and it should be about important revenue and spending decisions (not just about small pots of money that are left over after the big decisions have already been made).
- Needs Assessments: public spending must meet people’s needs, especially the deepest, most urgent needs, but also needs that are experienced widely. That means we must have a process and criteria for assessing those needs. We must also have information on which populations are disproportionately affected by unmet needs. A government department stating that its programs are “needed” is insufficient. The budget must be developed—and funded—based on real human needs, and we must raise the revenue required to meet those needs. The excuse that we don’t have enough money is misleading—it’s more likely that money is not scarce but misallocated or not raised or distributed adequately and fairly.
- Accountability: we must measure how we raise and spend public money against our values and principles, vision and goals (e.g. public money should not be raised or spent simply because we’ve always done it that way, or because some issues/institutions have greater clout or a louder voice or might otherwise lose certain privileges). Human rights principles such as universality and equity can help us develop indicators that tell us whether revenue/spending initiatives meet people’s needs for health, housing, good jobs, education and a healthy environment—and whether they do so in an equitable way. Raising and spending money equitably means that people/businesses who can afford it must pay more, and people or programs who have or ad- dress deeper/greater needs must receive more.
This is the type of budgeting and resource allocation that we need in Jackson to solve our problems. In order to meet this need, Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson Human Rights Institute (JHRI) have launched a wide-ranging Just Transition campaign, part of which is raising the demand that the city of Jackson must start adhering to this form of resource allocation. To help elevate this demand, we are organizing a Human Rights Budgeting training Friday, September 22nd through Sunday, September 24th at the Lumumba Center located at 939 W. Capitol Street. The purpose of this training is to start the organizing process of building a grassroots campaign that will compel the City of Jackson to officially adopt Human Rights Budgeting in 2018.
The Human Rights Budgeting campaign is part of our larger initiative to make Jackson a Human Rights City, anchored by a Human Rights Charter and a Human Rights Commission that will reinforce the critical work of Human Rights Budgeting.
As noted, the Human Rights City Campaign is part of Cooperation Jackson’s larger Just Transition campaign, which aims to make Jackson a Transition City defined by the development and institutionalization of the following interconnected systems and practices:
a) Cooperative Economics and Social Solidarity,
b) Climate and Ecological Sustainability,
c) Human Rights, and
d) Digital Fabrication and Community Production.
Transforming Jackson into a real Transition City, we believe, is the work all those in Jackson who believe in justice, equality, equity, reciprocity, and sustainability. We ask you to join us in taking some concrete steps towards accomplishing this goal, starting by attending our September 22nd through 24th training to learn the fundamentals of what Human Rights Budgeting is, how it works, how to share this information with the community and how we can utilize it to help address the social issues that confront the city as a whole. Join us!
* Please note that the “key elements” text was provided to by one of our partners, the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative (NESRI), who will be joining us for the training, as well as allies from SEIU 1199 from New York City.
Walking Together: A NYC Fundraiser for Cooperation Jackson
Sunday June 4th 2017
6pm - 9pm EST
Verso Loft 20 Jay Street, Suite 1010
"Walking Together" is a fundraiser for Cooperation Jackson. This fundraiser will focus on addressing many of the needs of Cooperation Jackson to advance its Transition City vision, which is to make Jackson a city anchored by cooperative economics, digital fabrication and human centered technological innovation, ecologically sustainable and regenerative systems and practices to manage the communities cycles of consumption, and the full implementation and protection of human rights. The implementation of this vision will enable Jackson to become a concrete #RebelCity with #FearlessCity implementation under the administration of Chokwe Antar Lumumba.
For the past 15 years, Jackson, Mississippi has been a radical laboratory experimenting in creating a sustainable, ecological transformative cooperative economy. The work of Cooperation Jackson, led by the transformative vision of the Jackson-Kush plan, calls for Mississippi to become the anchor of a southern cooperative economy.
Come and listen to a first hand account of the victory of the people's candidate, Chokwe Antar Lumumba, and the ever emerging transformative strategy being developed in in the heart of Dixie by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Cooperation Jackson, and how they might apply in NYC to help the social movements build and attain transformative political and economic power to battle gentrification, displacement, economic exploitation and social oppression.
Two of Cooperation Jackson's members and cofounders, Kali Akuno and Sacajawea Hall will be in attendance to share their perspectives and experiences. They will be joined by Shellyne Rodriguez from Take Back the Bronx, and others.
Following the panel there will be a reception to celebrate the primary victory of Chokwe Antar Lumumba and support the ongoing work of Cooperation Jackson.
Our goal is to raise a minimum of $5,000 for the general operations of the organization. However, we aim to raise $50,000 (if not more) to further develop our emerging Center for Community Production, which will specialize in 3D print manufacturing and digital fabrication.
Join us and spread the word. We are asking for a $10 to $20 door donation (no one will be turned away due to lack of funds). Beverages will be available for donation.
April 26th 7pm CST Click HERE to Register for the Meeting
Join organizers from Homes For All & Right To The City member brandon king from Cooperation Jackson, Robbie Clarke from Causa Justa::Just Cause, and Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson from the Highlander Research & Education Center for a discussion about the historic and disproportionate ways that black communities have been impacted by gentrification and the need for anti-gentrification/anti-displacement struggles to center black resistance, leadership and liberation at the heart of our movements.
Description: Join organizers from Homes For All & RTTC member Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in Jackson to learn about the powerful struggle for economic democracy and self-determination in Jackson, Mississippi.
Organizers will discuss the Jackson Kush-Plan and share insights and lessons from the initiative to build a base of autonomous power in Mississippi concentrated in Jackson and the eastern Black Belt portions of the state that can serve as a catalyst for the attainment of Black self-determination and the democratic transformation of the economy.
In particular, organizers will highlight lessons from 2 components of the plan: building independent political power and launching Cooperation Jackson as a vehicle to build a solidarity economy.
A conversation with Kali Akuno, organizer with Cooperation Jackson and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
“We cannot and should not legitimize the transfer of authority to a right-wing populist who has neo-fascist orientations,” Kali Akuno told AlterNet over the phone. “We shouldn’t legitimize that rule in any form or fashion. We need to build a program of being ungovernable.”
As the co-director of the Mississippi-based group Cooperation Jackson and an organizer with the nationwide Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Akuno is one of countless people across the country working diligently to build a platform sturdy enough to confront Trump’s America.
Movimiento Cosecha, led by undocumented people and immigrants, is planning to go on the offensive to organize a migrant boycott and general strike demanding “permanent protection, dignity, and respect of immigrants.” Groups including Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) are already striking preemptive blows against a potential Muslim registry under Trump by successfully demanding that the Obama administration eliminate the regulatory framework for a Bush-era registry. The New Sanctuary Movement, meanwhile, is getting ready to mobilize large numbers of people to intervene against a potential escalation of raids targeting immigrants.
For Akuno, whose organizations strive for self-determination for people of African descent and the eco-socialist transformation of society as a whole, now is an important time for movements to be talking to each other and strategizing how to unfold a program of noncompliance and noncooperation on both the federal and state levels. “We are not going to legitimize this regime, and we are going to try to draw a deeper level of criticism to the entire system,” he emphasized. “If Trump and Clinton were the best the system could offer, there is something wrong with the system. There always has been. We need to start envisioning what kind of future we want and need.”
A call for civil servants to resist
“A core component of resistance is to get the class of civil servants, particularly on the federal but also the state level, to not comply with arbitrary laws and policies that are going to be created,” said Akuno. “To not recognize the laws we know are coming that will discriminate against Black people, Latinos, immigrants and queer people. There is no need for anyone to comply. Let’s not give it legitimacy just because it’s the law. We need to be prepared to disobey and engage in civil disobedience. We need to get ready for that now.”
Akuno said there are already encouraging signs that such resistance is building among civil servants. Concerned that critical climate data will vanish under a climate-change denying Trump administration, scientists and meteorologists are working to copy and safely store public data using independent servers. Earlier this month, the University of Toronto held a “Guerrilla Archiving” event inviting volunteers to “join in a full day of hackathon activities in preparation for the Trump presidency.” The website “Climate Mirror” was erected as part of an effort to “mirror public climate datasets before the Trump Administration takes office to make sure these datasets remain freely and broadly accessible.”
Meanwhile, media reports are emerging that some Department of Energy officials are refusing to comply with a Trump administration demand to hand over the names of all of the agency’s contractors and employers who have worked on key climate policies under President Barack Obama. The request elicited concerns of a witch hunt and purge orchestrated by the incoming administration. But The Independent reported earlier this month, “The US Department of Energy (DOE) has refused to answer questions issued to them by Donald Trump’s transition team.”
In a letter dated December 28, attorney general offices from 13 states threatened litigation against Trump if he discards the Clean Power Plan, as he has vowed to do.
Such resistance, of course, contrasts with the narrative of a “peaceful transition of power” at times embraced by the Obama administration and much of the Democratic party. But among lower-level workers, opportunities for resistance are manifold. According to Akuno, “it is impressive to see a certain level of resistance that members of civil society are already engaging in. I don’t think this should be taken lightly. A broad alliance can be made, with a clear articulation of a call for resistance.”
Akuno emphasized that such resistance is just one prong of a broader strategy that he says entails “not going to work, not participating in your run-of-the-mill economic activities, with the hope and aim that we can build prolonged acts of civil disobedience that lead to a general strike.” While such plans are not fully fleshed out, he noted organizations across the country are actively discussing such a possibility.
‘Build and fight’
Strategies for large-scale disobedience should be buttressed by local plans that simultaneously prepare us for survival and orient us towards social transformation, he argued. “Cooperation Jackson is in the midst of a pivot that we’re calling, ‘Build and Fight,’” said Akuno, explaining that the initiative is premised on the assumption that “the left’s infrastructure domestically and internationally is profoundly weak. There needs to be a building piece in our view. This has to be a primary focus, and we want to build something that leans in an anti-capitalist orientation, like community-production based, cooperatively-owned digital fabrication.”
For inspiration, Cooperation Jackson looks to Black freedom organizers like Fannie Lou Hamer, who, in 1969, helped found the Freedom Farm Cooperative in Sunflower County, Mississippi, which was aimed at boosting food security and independence for Black community members who faced systematic dispossession. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, meanwhile, has played a critical role in protecting those communities on the frontlines of Black freedom and civil rights movements.
According to Akuno, now is a time to fortify infrastructure for autonomy and resistance. “That’s where co-ops, land trusts, time banking, mutual exchange, community production and other new social relationships come in,” he said. “We want to build society in a prefigurative way. We want a guaranteed level of food security and energy security. We need bottom-up solutions to sustain ourselves and transform the world.”
Towards this end, Cooperation Jackson is building three green cooperatives, as well as an eco-village, protected by a community land trust. These bottom-up alternatives are coupled with a push for policies aimed at a “just transition” away from policies that worsen climate change and environmental racism.
In materials emailed to AlterNet, the organization explained that its approach is “premised on ending our systemic dependence on the hydro-carbon industry and the capitalist driven need for endless growth on a planet with limited resources, while creating a new, democratic economy that is centered around sustainable methods of production and distribution that are more localized and cooperatively owned and controlled.”
“We need to be building participatory democratic structures from below,” Akuno emphasized. “We should be building people’s assemblies, not as a substitute of the state, but to deal with areas where the neoliberal state is failing to provide basic social services.”
Learning from history
“This moment calls us to really look at our collective history critically,” said Akuno. “In reality, this is not a democratic society, never has been. But, it’s based on democratic myths, not the concrete practice of democracy. We can look at the struggles of indigenous, Black, Xican@, Puerto Rican communities and draw new lessons. We can win genuine multiracial class unity that can benefit us during this time of struggle."
Akuno emphasized that there are plenty of lessons to be learned from struggles around the world. “In the 1950s through 80s, movements fought the right-wing neo-fascist dictatorships of Argentina and Chile,” he said. “It took decades to turn the tide, people were organizing on an underground basis after most of the left was liquidated. How folks organized and delegitimized the regime—I think there’s a lot to be learned from that.”
From South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement to Spain’s civil war to 1930s-era Germany, Akuno emphasized that we need to “use history as a guide.” But he also underscored that we have to recognize what is unique about this moment, which he says emerges from a uniquely American legacy of “white supremacy in its segregationist apartheid form.”
“The orientation we’re taking is not just about surviving Trump, but drawing attention to the fact that the system was already heading towards more severe types of repression, surveillance and austerity,” he said. “We’re also looking at the global dynamics as to why right-wing populism and fascism is spreading internationally.”
What is clear, says Akuno, is that the right-wing populism of the Trump administration will not be defeated by civil discourse and liberal democracy. He emphasized, “If we are serious and steadfast, we can create a clear and comprehensive message around being ungovernable.”
Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.
Cooperation Jackson representative, Andrew Campbell will participate in this train the trainer from October 17th to December 3rd, 2016 in São Paulo, Brazil.
The program is aimed at activists from movements and popular organizations of all Continents. The main objective of this course is to contribute to deepening the political education of activists and cadres with ability and or task of organizing schools and political education programs for their organizations.
September 2016 marked the beginning of an intensive digital fabrication and technologically innovative training and internship three of our members, Amalya Livingston, Akinola Gonzalez, and Gyasi Williams are receiving from INCITE FOCUS, a Detroit, Michigan based Fab Lab, to enable them to become fully certified technicians, and to offer the Academy courses to more members of our community to expand the number of certified technicians.Read More
The Community Production Initiative is a campaign to turn Jackson into an innovative hub of sustainable manufacturing and fabrication that will help build and expand “community wealth” in the city. The first phase of this initiative is the development of a Center for Community Production. The Center will be anchored by a Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab), and serve as a Fab Academy training center, a multi-stakeholder cooperative, a coding and digital programming innovation hub, a maker space and the city’s first hub of community production.Read More
Edited By: Cooperation Jackson (Kali Akuno, Sacajawea Hall, brandon king) and Ajamu Nangwaya
There is a W.E.B. DuBois statement popular in radical political circles in the United States that asserts, “as the South goes so goes the nation.” This claim has much to do with the outsized role that the US South has played and continues to play in the ideology, economics and politics of the country. It is not a coincidence that the politics of mass resistance against racism and other forms of oppression in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s had its origins in the South with the emergence of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
It is the intensity of oppressive conditions in the South that provides the potential for movements emanating from this region to ignite the powder keg of popular resistance across the country. It is in the preceding context that we would like to document an emerging social, economic and political experiment that has the potential to provide a framework for resistance to racist domination, patriarchal oppression, ecological destruction and capitalist economic exploitation in the United States.
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.
Jackson Rising documents the history of this movement, its contributions towards the radical transformation of the United States, and its ideological and political implications for social movements throughout the United States, the global South and the world.
We are proud to announce that the Lumumba Center will soon be a solar powered and operated facility, thanks to a generous donation that we received.
This development helps us fulfill a critical plank towards the fulfillment of our Jackson Just Transition Plan (JJTP) and Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) to create a sustainable, regenerative economy in Jackson.
Cooperation Jackson's very own Co-Founder and Co-Director, Kali Akuno has been selected as a keynote speaker for this year's convening taking place July 8-10 in Buffalo, NY.
CommonBound will bring together hundreds of leaders and organizations from across North America for an international conference on visionary strategies for achieving deep systemic change. Participants will share insights and stories, build relationships, highlight achievements, and chart a shared path toward a society that puts people and planet first. Participants will include a cross-section of community leaders, thinkers, and practitioners from around the world, including the New Economy Coalition’s 140-plus member organizations from throughout the US and Canada.
Oakland, CA – Thirty-six leaders representing innovative community and economic development solutions in 29 U.S. and Canadian cities have been selected to the Business Alliance for Local Living Economy’s (BALLE) fourth cohort of Local Economy Fellows.
These are leaders with fierce love for their communities – a love that they’re each putting to work in ways that bring equity, opportunity, capital, and support to small local businesses and the diverse populations in every community they serve.
Locally, Kali Akuno, Co-Director of Cooperation Jackson, was named to the fellowship. Kali leads and incubates a network of worker cooperatives, a land trust, and housing co-ops fighting to create economic democracy and solidarity.Read More
By Kali Akuno
The racist and utterly reactionary Republican legislative majorities that dominate the South are on an aggressive march this legislative session. From Texas to Florida, Arkansas to Virginia, and all the states in-between, they are employing cut-throat strategies and tactics to pass a package of regressive, exploitative and outright anti-human legislation drawn up by the likes of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) and other right-wing think tanks. They are attacking the right to vote, Black voting districts, the right to education, access to housing, workers rights to organize themselves, wage protections, alternative energy plans, marriage equality, and the list goes on.
While reactionary legislative initiatives are nothing new to the South, the moves being made in 2016 are rather exceptional. In many respects, the Republican initiatives of 2016 are reminiscent of their “Redeemer” predecessors from the Democratic Party from the 1890’s, when they systematically replaced all of the reconstruction based constitutions of the Southern states and formally instituted legally based “Jim Crow” regimes. This reactionary assault is being driven by desperation in part. The settlers that form the base of the Republic Party are utterly terrified by the demographic trends projected for the US over the next 50 years. They are scared of the day when the US is no longer a “white man’s country” that it will translate into the end of their social dominance and “way of life.” These reactionary initiatives are therefore maneuvers of position in preparation for long-term trouble, a “battening down the hatches” as it were, to secure their social rule and ability to exploit and oppress non-white people for as long as possible.Read More
The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is undertaking a fact-finding mission in Jackson and other parts of Mississippi January 22nd – 24th. Cooperation Jackson will host the Working Group Saturday, January 23, 2016 at the Chokwe Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development. Saturday's Full Schedule
The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is undertaking a fact-finding mission in Jackson and other parts of Mississippi January 22nd – 24th. The Working Group is touring four cities, including Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Chicago in addition to Jackson. The purpose of the visit is to gather as much evidence about the current state and conditions of people of African descent in the United States, particularly as it pertains to criminal justice and the respect for our economic, social and cultural rights, that will be reported on directly to the Human Rights Council in the form of a report. This report will be used to pressure the United States government to respect, protect, and fulfill its human rights obligations to people of African descent living within the United States.
The visit of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent will also be utilized as an opportunity to promote the International Decade of People of African Descent. The International Decade commenced on January 1st, 2015 and is set to end December 31st, 2024. Cooperation Jackson and the Jackson Human Rights Institute are utilizing the decade to try and promote systemic change for people of African descent in the United States. We intend on doing ongoing program to promote the decade, the case for reparations, and the call for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice over the course of the next 9 years. For more information on the International Decade for People of African Descent visit http://www.un.org/en/events/africandescentdecade/
All people who identify as people of African Descent (i.e. Black people, African Americans, New Afrikans, etc.) regardless of class, gender, or age are encouraged to participate in this process.
What is the UN Working Group of People of African Descent?
The members of the Working Group are appointed, independent experts from various countries dedicated to improving the human rights situation of people of African descent around the world. One of their mandates is to visit different countries to examine critically the situation of people of African descent in the country, identify problems, and make recommendations for resolution of the problems. There will be 3 experts who will visit and 2 UN staff. For more information about the Working Group,
please check out this link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Racism/WGAfricanDescent/Pages/WGEPADIndex.asp.
For more information email CooperationJackson@gmail.com. Or visit www.CooperationJackson.org or the following Facebook Pages https://www.facebook.com/CooperationJackson/ or https://www.facebook.com/jacksonhumanrightsinstitute/
We are very fortunate have Léo Xavier from the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (Movimento de Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra do Brasil, or MST) engage in this transnational grassroots exchange.Read More
Over 250 Activists and organizers from Mississippi and throughout the south and southwest gathered at the Chokwe Lumumba Center for Economic Democracy and Development Friday, June 26th through Sunday, June 28th, 2015.
This report highlights the key questions discussed. the community report backs from the work done in five tracks: Youth, Gender, Labor/Worker, Economic Democracy and Energy Democracy.Read More
Registration is $50 per person and covers onsite meals.
Local day-by-day rate are as follows
· Friday, June 26th $15
· Saturday, June 27th $30
· Sunday, June 28th $10Read More