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      The North Carolina Populist Test

      North Carolina is not only the site of the Democratic Party’s 2012 convention, but a crucial swing state in the November election. As this report indicates, a powerful populist movement led by African-Americans seems to be taking root in the state. For more information contact Bob Zellner.

      The North Carolina Populist Test by Bob Zellner

      The vision of a progressive anti-poverty, pro-working class populist alliance (which constitutes 70-80% of the voters in the South) has begun to take root among ordinary people. With black power and black leadership, a populist alliance is possible that can’t be sold out at the whim of whites.

      Now the extreme right has again seized the moral low-ground--dissing the poor, and trying desperately to divide the Black-White-Brown people who are the victims of their racist, anti-labor, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti environmental, anti-women, pro-militarism policies for profits, while they re-segregate our schools, our voting districts, and our hearts. 

      Ari Berman's excellent analysis in this week's Nation should be must reading in Baltimore. The extreme right's aim is to make the "Democratic Party" mean the "Black Party" in every former Confederate State. HKonJ, formed over 6 years ago, saw this coming, and began working long and hard to build grass-roots alliances that could not be so easily broken. We have many victories to show for it, not the least of which was early voting, beating back the racist attempt to re-segregate Wake County schools, and a growing backbone among our Black-White Progressive Alliance in the State Legislature, which now numbers about one-third. Those white and the handful of Black legislators and other politicians, who are sleeping in their moderate beds, can either join with us in building a diverse, progressive constituency and sewing a quilt of many colors to cover the state, or they will freeze like fools. 

      Let me be direct about the lessons we are learning. The National NAACP needs to adjust its Northern bias. The 2010 Census makes it clear. Of the 42 million Black people in the country, over 23 million live in the south. That's 55% of the Black population live in the 15 states where slavery was the law in 1860, and Jim Crow was the law until 1970, even though it was declared unconstitutional by the NAACP's great victory in 1954. That means only 40 years ago, in these 15 states, all public educational institutions from kindergarten through graduate schools were segregated. Only 40 years ago, the Klan provided terrorist backing for the old Democratic Party, which used race to rule in every County courthouse and every State Legislature in these 15 States. This is the Solid South, which the Republicans bought, lock, stock, and barrel with Koch and Pope money. These 15 states, and particularly the 11 which declared war on the U.S.A to maintain the sin of slavery, is where are most concentrated and largest base is. These 15 States represent the moral center of our nation, and the political fulcrum for the next great step forward.

      The National Board needs to consider carefully this demographic, moral, and political reality. The center of gravity of the struggle against racism--the NAACP's raison d’être, is in the South. There is no accident that the NAACP was declared illegal in the South. When Ms. Ella Baker and her friend, Rosa Parks, and other great Southern NAACP southern organizers help set up SCLC and SNCC to create the most revolutionary grass roots movement the nation has experienced in the 1950's-60's--organizations that were targeted by vicious right-wing forces within the Government. Through it all, courageous NAACP branch leaders continued to raise the anti-racism banner. There were strong security arguments for keeping our offices in NY and Baltimore. 

      But those of us from the 50's and 60's, who saw our offices and homes dynamited, remember well the contradiction when Roy Wilkins or some other NAACP leader would fly in and fly out of the hotspots in the South, while SNCC, SCLC and SCEF, with offices in Atlanta and New Orleans and Louisville and Nashville, learned how to triangulate the national media, national law enforcement, national political allies, with the racist courthouse gangs and cops and Klan. Most of you are aware that four Old Confederate states contain over 11 million Black people. TX has 3 m. 12%; FL, 3 m, 16%; GA, 3 m., 30%; and NC has 2 m., and 22%. After these Big Four, we have VA, 1.5 M and 20%; LA, 1.5M and 32%; SC 1.3m, 28%; AL 1.25M, 27%; MI 1.1M 37%; TN 1.1M17%; and AK, .5M 16%.

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