Presentation on theme: "“…we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million."— Presentation transcript:
“…we honestly face the fact that the movement must address itself to the question of restructuring the whole of American society. There are forty million poor people here. And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society. We are called upon to help the discouraged beggars in life's marketplace. (Yes) But one day we must come to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. (All right) It means that questions must be raised. And you see, my friends, when you deal with this you begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the oil?’ (Yes) You begin to ask the question, ‘Who owns the iron ore?’ (Yes) You begin to ask the question, ‘Why is it that people have to pay water bills in a world that's two-thirds water?’ (All right) These are the questions that must be asked.” (All right) Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Last Speech to SCLC Staff entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” (August 1967)
This session’s questions: Why do we need a social movement? How do we build a social movement?
Why do we need a social movement?
What are the limits and obstacles you face in your everyday organizing that suggest that we need a social movement? What is the character of today’s movement?
Social problem requires social solution: social movement Character of social problem determines character of social movement
(graph from economics session)
“We have more from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights, an era where we are called upon to raise certain basic questions about the whole society. We have been in a reform movement… But after Selma and the voting rights bill, we moved into a new era, which must be the era of revolution. We must recognize that we can’t solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power… this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together… you can’t really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (May 1967)
King suggests a shift: In the formulation of the rights at issue (civil rights to human rights) In the alignment of social forces (Blacks united across class lines to poor united across color lines) From reformism to transformational change
Example from today: Shack Dwellers
Ongoing Estimate of the Situation
How do we build a social movement?
Win the Middle = Roof
(Phil adds slide here)
Unite the Poor as a Leading Social Force = Walls
Race and Religion
“The system of slavery demanded a special police force and such a force was made possible and unusually effective by the presence of the poor whites. This explains the difference between the slave revolts in the West Indies, and the lack of effective revolt in the Southern United States. In the West Indies, the power over the slave was held by the whites and carried out by them and such Negroes as they could trust. In the South, on the other hand, the great planters formed proportionately quite as small a class but they had singularly enough at their command some five million poor whites; that is, there were actually more white people to police the slaves than there were slaves. Considering the economic rivalry of the black and white worker in the North, it would have seemed natural that the poor white would have refused to police the slaves. But two considerations led him in the opposite direction. First of all, it gave him work and some authority as overseer, slave driver, and member of the patrol system. But above and beyond this, it fed his vanity because it associated him with the masters. Slavery bred in the poor white a dislike of Negro toil of all sorts. He never regarded himself as a laborer, or as part of any labor movement. If he had any ambition at all it was to become a planter and to own "niggers." To these Negroes he transferred all the dislike and hatred which he had for the whole slave system. The result was that the system was held stable and intact by the poor white. Even with the late ruin of Haiti before their eyes, the planters, stirred as they were, were nevertheless able to stamp out slave revolt. The dozen revolts of the eighteenth century had dwindled to the plot of Gabriel in 1800, Vesey in 1822, of Nat Turner in 1831 and crews of the Amistad and Creole in 1839 and Gradually the whole white South became an armed and commissioned camp to keep Negroes in slavery and to kill the black rebel.” W.E.B. Dubois Black Reconstruction
“You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh's court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that's the beginning of getting out of slavery.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve Been to the Mountain Top (1968)
“The dispossessed of this nation -- the poor, both white and Negro -- live in a cruelly unjust society. They must organize a revolution against the injustice, not against the lives of the persons who are their fellow citizens, but against the structures through which the society is refusing to take means which have been called for, and which are at hand, to lift the load of poverty. There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life...” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, The Trumpet of Conscience (1967)
Identify, Train and Unite the Leaders = Foundation
Panning for gold through the 6 P’s
6 P’s: Principles of Building a Social Movement Program Protest Press Projects of Survival Political Education Plans