State-funded Jackson Rising conference was ‘thinly veiled communism’

PAID FOR: Jackson State hosted the Jackson Rising Conference and even contributed $1,000 to help insure the event.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

There were plenty of C-words in the literature for the Jackson Rising New Economics Conference hosted and co-sponsored by Jackson State University.

Cooperative. Collective. Child care.

But if you ask Jim Cunningham, president of Mississippi for Liberty, there was one missing.

“It’s concerning that our taxpayer-funded universities are sponsoring events that espouse what appears on the surface to be nothing more than thinly veiled communism,” Cunningham said.

JSU spokesman Jean Gordon Cook said the school’s space is open for use to all outside groups. It allowed Jackson Rising organizers to use three of the school’s buildings for free while the school paid $1,000 to help insure the event. The group did pay the school for incidental costs, equipment and personnel, including security provided by JSU’s police department.

The three-day conference was spearheaded by late Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, who died in February. The purpose of the conference, according to its website, was to create a “cooperative” or “solidarity economy” committed to “ecological sustainability, worker ownership, democratic control, and principles of non-exploitation.”

The Jackson City Council passed a resolution Feb. 27 supporting the event, but didn’t commit any financial resources to the project, according to city spokeswoman Pam Confer.

Among the topics discussed were the “abolishment of corporate constitutional rights,” advancement of “worker rights in the South,” and “communal territories” in Venezuela after the 1998 Bolivarian revolution led by the late Hugo Chavez.

The organizers of the event refused repeated calls for comment.

The speaker for the Venezuelan portion of the event was Omar Sierra, deputy consul general of Venezuela for Boston. Venezuela has been hit hard with strife in the past few months as anti-Chavez forces have protested the socialist government of Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro. Eleven people have died.

STATE OWNED: Jackson State was host to the “Jackson Rising” conference.

The seminar explored how “the definition of legal “personhood” has been a critical component of how a small ruling elite have ruled over the vast majority of this country, all the while masquerading as a “democracy” and confusing people (especially white folks),” accoding to a summary.

Also part of the curriculum was was an exploration of ” the links between corporate constitutional rights and capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy, and describe the strategy to win a constitutional amendment to abolish the court-created and utterly illegitimate legal doctrines of “corporate personhood” and “money equals speech.”

Another section explored promoting labor unions in “a region that is overwhelmingly ‘right to work,’ meaning the ‘right to work’ without a union. In the south, union density is extremely low, workers are systematically exploited and their rights are not respected.”

The seminar’s goal, according to its literature, was to “develop a cohesive strategy that works to address the needs of working people as well as continue to advance the struggle for dignified jobs and wealth equity in a region where it has been intentionally denied.”

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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