Archive for October 18th, 2010
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a fund-raising Gala for Missouri GRO (Grass Roots Organizing). GRO is an impressive progressive organization. It was founded by a small handful of rural activists, mostly women who, according to a history of the organization written by Tony Pecinovsky, “wanted more accountability from politicians and big businesses alike.” Most of its members are people who live in rural Missouri, “people who live in small towns not necessarily known for their progressive politics.”
GRO is part of a nationwide network of progressive organizations, National People’s Action, that has coordinated local activist organizations pushing hard for health care reform, Wall Street financial reform and other important issues. GRO is anything but shy. Consider this account (from the literature handed out at the gala event last week):
GRO carried out a winter-long anti-payday lending campaign that backed QC Holdings [Owner of the company that runs one of the biggest payday lending chains in the country] into a corner of public scrutiny and legislative pressure. On April Fools’ Day we learned the Missouri legislature gave the payday loan industry a solo “hearing,” led by theVice Chair of the Financial Institutions Committee, who owns a payday loan store inCabool, Missouri. The industry went totally unchallenged. They took over our public domain. So we decided to take over QC Holding’s private domain in corporate words, Overland Park, Kansas. . . . We mobilized all150+ of our people up 15 floors on elevators to take over the corporate penthouse suite of the Missouri’s largest payday lending operation.
In short, GRO has made a lot of noise where corporate power is runing amok. Because of this moxie, GRO has earned the respect of many in Missouri and outside of Missouri. At its fund-raising gala last week, GRO filled a large downtown St. Louis hotel ballroom with supporters who gathered to hear the keynote speech delivered by John Nichols, Washington Correspondent of The Nation Magazine. Nichols is also co-founder (with Robert McChesney) of Free Press, one of the country’s leading media reform organizations.
Prior to speech, John Nichols gave me permission to videotape his speech so that I could make it available here at Dangerous Intersection. In Part I of his speech, Nichols makes the argument that we do not really have a debt crisis. He passionately explains what kind of crisis we actually do have.
In Part II of his speech, Nichols takes a hard critical look at the United States Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC. Nichols reminded the audience that the first American tea party was an anti-corporate tea party. Toward the end of Part II, Nichols argues that in order to take our country back, we will need an anti-corporate revolution– we will need to go around the “corrupted” United States Supreme Court by organizing at the grass roots and enacting a Constitutional amendment declaring that “No corporation is the equal of a citizen” and “Citizens are supreme.”
“Today I don’t have to think about those who hear “terrorist” when I speak my faith.
Today I don’t have to think about men who don’t believe no means no.
Today I don’t have to think about how the world is made for people who move differently than I do.
Today I don’t have to think about whether I’m married, depending on what state I’m in.
Today I don’t have to think about how I’m going to hail a cab past midnight.”
“Today I don’t have to think about whether store security is tailing me.
Today I don’t have to think about the look on the face of the person about to sit next to me on a plane.
Today I don’t have to think about eyes going to my chest first.
Today I don’t have to think about what people might think if they knew the medicines I took.
Today I don’t have to think about getting kicked out of a mall when I kiss my beloved hello.”
“Today I don’t have to think about if it’s safe to hold my beloved’s hand.
Today I don’t have to think about whether I’m being pulled over for anything other than speeding.
Today I don’t have to think about being classified as one of “those people.”
Today I don’t have to think about making less than someone else for the same job at the same place.
Today I don’t have to think about the people who stare, or the people who pretend I don’t exist.”
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