Category Archives: Mississippi

Collective Bargaining in the South

By KurtFF8

A recent AP article points out that 9 of the 10 states in the United States that lack collective bargaining rights for state workers are found in the South.  The article points out that in places like Virginia, the drive is to move pensions from a government benefit for state workers to an investment in the private sector.

This is a Neo-Liberal move that is in line with the continued “enclosure of the commons” method of taking everything that is in the public sector and making it for profit in the private sector.  When unions are unable to negotiate for their own workers, the balance of power remains more firmly at the top with the most powerful of society.  As Leftists, we don’t merely want to call for a “balance of power,” however.  Our goal is to tip the balance in favor of the working class so it can itself achieve power for itself as a class.

The fact that the majority of states that lack collective bargaining for state workers fall in the South underlines the argument that organizing in the South should be a top priority for those who want to build the labor movement in general.

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Filed under austerity measures, budget cuts, class struggle, labor movement, labor unions, Leftists in the U.S. South, Liberalism, Mississippi, North Carolina, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Virginia

Communist Party USA Southern Organizing Tour to Launch from Dallas

Originally posted to Texas Communist Party

Although hundreds of Southerners have joined the Communist Party, USA, many of them have never had a sit-down discussion with a party leader. Vice-Chairperson Scotty Marshall and I plan to confront that problem with an organizing tour of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana November 11-24.

The New Members Committee of CPUSA sent out an invitation: “Interest in the Communist Party, USA is rising across the South. We have gotten inquiries about our party, our program, our philosophy and our strategy, from all the Southern states. Many are asking how to join and become active. Many also want to know how we are organized and how to form clubs or study groups. Many have also participated in our on-line webinars and discussions. Because of this interest, and because we are seeing clusters of inquiries from areas of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Kentucky, we are planning a two week trip through these areas….”

Responses from Southerners were immediate:

“I would strongly urge you to visit Mobile. I know a few of us would love to meet and talk over drinks and good topics.”

“Please do contact me when you make it into Mobile. There aren’t many people to my knowledge that are educated about CPUSA, I’m really looking forward to changing this and becoming more informed myself.”

“I live in Arkansas. You guys should come through Little Rock.”

“Hello from Arkansas! I would Love to meet with you if you come. I live In Hot Springs. Let me know if there is any thing I can do to help on your trip.”

“Where will you be in Kentucky? Thank you for all your hard work!”

“I want to become involved in the activities of the Party again and you can
instruct me on what you might want me to accomplish to prepare for the Southern tour to visit here in Louisville.”

“Yes! I would definitely be interested in meeting with CP-USA when you come through Kentucky.”

“I am trying to get as many as possible to meet with Scott Marshall and Jim Lane in one location, most likely my city of Louisville.”

“If you could, let me know when you’d be available in Louisville Kentucky. And heck you can even give me a call if you like.”

“Howdy, I’d love to meet up. I live in Louisville, KY. I don’t know of anybody else that would be interested in meeting up, but… I might be able to get one or two other people together for a powwow.”

“I have a friend who is very interested in meeting up, and has a place to hold a meeting. Anyway, you’ve got a place to meet and speak here in Louisville.”

“I would like to meet some locals interested in organizing. Will you all be in New Orleans?”

“I would like to be able to get in contact with more people from Baton Rouge and discuss coming together and starting something here. Any information you could give me would be great.”

“I am interested in meeting with you. I live in Memphis. I am not a current member, but am interested in opportunities to find out more about the Party’s work and possibly become a member.”

“I would love to meet with any or all of you to discuss what work you’re doing and how I might be able to help. If you are in Memphis please let me know.”

“We’re both living around the Memphis area, and we’re very interested in meeting with the two of you. We’re extremely enthusiastic to get acquainted with fellow comrades within the national party. Thank you so much for sending this to me.”

“I am interested in joining CPUSA. I live in Memphis. I would like to meet with Scott and Jim if they pass through here.”

Scotty and I have wanted to carry out this tour for some time. We’re hoping to help progressive Southerners come together into regular CPUSA clubs. CPUSA has a rich tradition in the South, and there are a number of longtime comrades scattered here and there. Additionally, young people are more and more realizing that capitalism has no solutions for them and are seeking information from CPUSA.

In addition, Scotty and I intend to report regularly to CPUSA publications so that all progressives in America can better understand Southerners and one another. Our hearts are really into this trip! We depart Dallas and head toward Little Rock November 11!




Filed under Arkansas, class struggle, Communism, Communist Party USA, Gulf States, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, other announcements, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Tennessee, Texas, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events, workers

The Gulf South as Internal Periphery

In the article, Race, Class and Hurricane Katrina: Social differences in human responses to disaster, the authors, Elliot and Pais, provide a brief overview of the history of the Gulf South region of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. In giving the historical background for their study on the role of race and class in the Katrina disaster, they focus on the underdevelopment and peripheral status of the region. It is important for Leftists in the South to understand this history, as it is the backdrop to the conditions which we continue to face. For this reason I am quoting the relevant excerpt, though the entire article is worth reading. – hastenawait

As Elliott and Ionescu (2003) point out, the Gulf South region of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama has long been demographically and economically subordinate to other parts of the country, including today’s “new” New South. To appreciate the historical underpinnings of this peripheral status, it is useful to review the development of the US settlement system as a whole.

Broadly speaking, the collection of towns and cities that comprise the US settlement system, although long including southern port cities of Charleston, Mobile, and New Orleans, took root and spread principally from colonial cities in the Northeast, specifically Boston, Providence, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. According to Eysberg (1989) this uneven geographic development resulted more from historical accident than from regional divergences in raw materials and transportation options. Central to this “accident” was the British Crown’s policy of encouraging migration of wealthy Anglicans—who, among other things, could afford slaves—to the southern colonies, while encouraging migration of religious refugees to northern colonies. This policy, rather than innate topographical divergences, set into motion the development of two distinct socio-economic systems.

As port cities in the Northeast grew and developed their own entrepreneurial and industrial middle classes, they also began to attract middle-class immigrants, who tended to arrive in kinship groups that generated demand for urban goods and services, which in turn fueled the development of a new urban-based, capitalist economy. By contrast, the disproportionate settlement of British, French, and Spanish aristocrats in southern colonies during the same time period contributed to the development of a caste-like society there with an economy based almost entirely on agriculture (specifically cotton, sugar, and indigo), slave labor, and mercantilist exchange with Europe. As a result of these divergences, urban centers in the South failed to develop strong entrepreneurial networks and remained largely confined to harbor areas such as New Orleans, Mobile, and Charleston.

This uneven geographic development became increasingly hierarchal during the middle to late 1800s, as the growth of transcontinental railroads not only connected southern agriculturalists with northern markets but also rendered them increasingly beholden to northern elites who controlled these railroads and markets. These uneven relations, in turn, helped to reduce the importance of the Mississippi River for trade with growing industrial centers in the Midwest, and made the South, especially the Deep South, economically dependent on northeastern cities, particularly New York, for commerce.

This peripheral status continued in large measure until the late 1960s, at which time “core” urban centers in the Northeast and Midwest began to deindustrialize, pushing millions of people away from pink slips and high heating bills toward booming metro areas in California, Texas, and Florida. These and more recent economic booms in Georgia and the Carolinas have since rendered southern cities such as Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, and Houston more prominent players in the US settlement system, while at the same time largely bypassing the Gulf South, where historic port cities such as New Orleans, Biloxi, and Mobile have experienced little demographic and economic growth by comparison (see Glasmeier and Leichencko, 2000).

These historic developments have coalesced to produce a peripheral region characterized by deep and complex relations of racial and class division. Because comparably few “outsiders” of either native or foreign birth have moved into this area during recent decades, these relations have been left to unfold largely of their own inertia, undisturbed by mass in-migration from other parts of the country and the world.

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, class struggle, Gulf States, Leftists in the U.S. South, Louisiana, Mississippi, National Oppression, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, workers, World Systems Theory

Seize BP National Days of Action

The Seize BP campaign has called for more national days of action this week.  Some have happened and many more are planned for tomorrow (Saturday the 5h).  Many cities in the South are holding demonstrations (along with cities all over the country) to demand the seizure of BP’s assets.  The campaign was even mentioned on CNN recently.

The oil spill has now reached Florida and is likely going to continue to spread.

Below is a partial list of newly announced actions. Details for additional events are still coming in and being compiled, so check our website regularly for updates.


Claremont, California
Thursday, June 10, 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Arco station
701 E. Foothill Blvd (Corner of Foothill and Claremont Blvd)
Contact: Claudia Strauss,

Long Beach, California
Wednesday, June 9 at 4:30pm
Long Beach Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Way (Aquarium Way & Shoreline Drive)
The Aquarium, which claims its mission is “to instill a sense of wonder, respect, and stewardship for the Pacific Ocean, its inhabitants, and ecosystems” just took $1 million from oil criminals BP and unveiled a “BP Sea Otter Habitat.” This sickinging double-standard shows the utter bankruptcy of the Aquarium’s board of directors and attempts to provide cover for BP’s crimes.
Contact: 213-251-1025 or
Click here for map and parking.

Los Angeles, California
Saturday, June 5 at 12 noon
Palisades Park at Ocean Ave. & Colorado Ave., Santa Monica (near the Santa Monica Pier)
Contact: 213-251-1025 or
Click here for a map.

Oceanside, California
Saturday, June 5 at 2 p.m.
Bp station, 160 Davison Ave
Bring signs and loud voices.

San Francisco, California
Tuesday, June 8 at 5 p.m.
BP Offices
90 New Montgomery St. (near Mission St.)
Contact: 415-821-6545,

Santa Cruz, California
Friday, June 4 at 2:30 p.m.
The Clock Tower


Milford, Connecticut
Saturday, June 5, 12 noon
BP Gas Station, 231 Cherry Street
Picket along the sidewalk in front of station. Bring signs or pictures. Only a few will be made by organizer.
Contact: or 203-556-9133 or Facebook page (click here)


Washington, D.C.
Thursday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
BP Amoco Gov’t Affairs Office
1101 New York Ave., NW (on the north side of I St. b/w 11th & 12th Sts.)
Contact: 202-265-1949 or


Destin, Florida
Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m.
202 Harbor Boulevard – Ground zero for Okaloosa county

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m.
South Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on A1A (Enter park just south of SE 5th Street) across from the Bahia Mar Hotel
Contact: 954-707-0155 or
Click here for a map.

Orlando, Florida
Saturday, June 5, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Lake Eola Park (meet up at the corner of E Robinson St and N Eola Drive)
Street Meeting and Outreach Event
Contact: 321-437-4785 or
Click here for a map.

Tallahassee, Florida
Saturday, June 5 at 11 a.m.
Old Capitol (corner of Apalachee Pkwy and Monroe St)
Contact: Florida State University Center for Participant Education at (

Tampa, Florida
Saturday, June 5 at 3 p.m.
Corner of Bearss and N. Florida Ave.


Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m.
BP Station, 350 Moreland Avenue
Arrive at the BP station with signs, posterboards, megaphones and demand that BP end this oil spill now and demand the government seize BP’s assets! Enough is enough!
Contact: Allyson Bowers, (404) 731-3941


Anahola / Kuhio, Hawaii
Saturday, June 5 at 12 noon
Anahola / Kuhio Highway – Meet at the Lei stand
Contact: Marcia McPhail at 808-640-5761


Chicago, Illinois
Thursday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
BP Offices in Chicago
Corner of Randolph & Michigan
Bring your signs, banners and voices of protest!
Contact: 773-463-0311


Louisville, Kentucky
Wednesday, June 2, 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
First Unitarian Church, 4th & York
Meeting for Louisville-area residents to discuss how they can respond to this overwhelming ecological catastrophe.


Baltimore, Maryland
Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m.
General Sam Smith Park (SE corner of Light St. and E. Pratt Street., by the flag pole nearby the Inner Harbor)
Visibility action


Boston, Massachusetts
Friday, June 4 at 5 p.m.
Park St. T station
Visibility action
Contact: 857-334-5084 or


St. Joseph, Michigan.
Wednesday, June 9 at 5 p.m.
BP gast station on the corner of Napier (2501 Niles Ave.)


Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday, June 6 at 10 a.m.
Flamingo and Maryland Parkway intersection.
Demonstration at one or more corners of the busy intersection. Bus stops there going all 4 directions. Will pass flyers to bus riders and pedestrians. Traffic flow should be busy.
Contact: David K. or Teri K. at 702-408-4819 or 408-5622 or – Please RSVP


Albuquerque, New Mexico
Saturday, June 5 at 12 noon
Tulane at Central
Contact: 505-268-2488


New York, New York
Thursday, June 3 at 5 p.m.
JP Morgan Chase World Headquarters*
270 Park Ave. (at 48th street)
*Chase owns close to 30 percent of BP’s public stock
Contact: 212-694-8720,

Syracuse, New York
Saturday, June 5 at 2 p.m.
ArtRage Gallery, 505 Hawley Ave.
Volunteer Meeting: “BP’s Gulf of Mexico Disaster: Who will pay the price?” Hear presentations about the case for seizure and find out how to get involved in the Seize BP campaign in Syracuse.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Wednesday, June 9 at 5 p.m.
Location to be announced.
Visibility action


Austin, Texas
Saturday, June 5, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Southeast corner of 6th and Lamar
Signs will be available.

Irving, Texas
Friday, June 4 at 12 noon
ExxonMobil Corporate Headquarters, 5959 Las Colinas Blvd
Click here for a map.


Front Royal, Virginia
Sunday, June 6, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
BP station on the corner of Hwy 522 and Hwy 55

Virginia Beach, Virginia
Friday, June 4 at 10 a.m.
21st Street and Atlantic Ave (on boardwalk)
Contact: Facebook page for more info and to rsvp to event.


Seattle, Washington
Friday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m.
Westlake Park (4th and Pine)

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Filed under ANSWER Coalition, Demonstration Announcements, Environment, fishing, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Leftists in the U.S. South, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oil, Southern United States, Tennessee, Texas, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events

Death penalty defendant Curtis Flowers to be tried a sixth time

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By: Eugene Puryear

Originally posted to

Previous trials marked by conflicting testimony, prosecutorial misconduct and racism

On June 7, Curtis Flowers will become the first death penalty defendant to be tried six times on the same evidence. His first two trials were overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct. His third trial had its verdict vacated because of racial bias in jury selection. In the fourth trial, five jurors (all Black) voted to acquit, while seven (all white) voted to convict. A fifth trial resulted in a hung jury.

Curtis Flowers

With this background, and the fact that this case has taken place in Mississippi, it is more than logical to wonder both about Flowers’ guilt and the potential racial implications of his prosecution. The ongoing Troy Davis case, as well as the recently concluded Jena Six saga, are just two examples of many that should lead us to question the entire Curtis Flowers prosecution.

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Filed under African Americans, Mississippi, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoners, Race, Southern United States, Uncategorized, United States, workers

Eyewitness report from the Mississippi Dignity Caravan

Thursday, May 27, 2010
By: Gregory W. Esteven

 Originally posted to

Progressives mobilize to support Constance McMillan at her graduation

On May 22, members of the LGBT community, activists and allies took part in the Mississippi Dignity Caravan. The caravan started with a rally at the state capitol in Jackson and ended over 200 miles away in Fulton, a small town in the northeastern corner of the state.

The caravan was organized to challenge the Westboro Baptist Church—a notorious hate group from Topeka, Kan.—which protested outside the graduation of Constance McMillan, a lesbian high school student.

McMillan recently came to international attention when the Itawamba County School District canceled her high school’s prom to prevent her from bringing her girlfriend. After a court battle, she was then subjected to a “fake prom,” of only six students, while bigoted parents organized a private prom to which she was not invited. Her story has become a rallying point in the fight for equal rights for LGBT people.

The Mississippi Dignity Caravan was a successful effort to show that progressive people in the state are standing up. The caravan was organized by Unity Mississippi, and dozens of other organizations within the state to celebrate the first annual Harvey Milk Day, and to present a “unified front against hate mongers,” according to Amy Hinton of PFLAG-Laurel.

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Filed under Gulf States, LGBT, LGBTQI, Mississippi, Queer, Southern United States, Students, United States

Miss. catfish workers may strike

By Sean Schafron

Published May 20, 2010 9:31 PM

Roughly 600 employees of Delta Pride Catfish, Inc., mostly African-American women, may go on strike soon. If the contract the company has offered — using a notorious union-busting legal firm at the negotiating table — is rejected, this would be the second strike against Delta Pride Catfish. The first strike in 1990 is looked upon as a landmark in labor history.

Delta Pride Catfish, a Mississippi company, is paying employees a mere $8 to $9 an hour. They haven’t had an increase in four years.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The company has offered a contract that is atrocious. It would establish a seven-day work week, reduce seniority benefits, eliminate overtime, abolish severance pay should the company close, triple employee contributions to company health insurance over three years, and allow the company to outsource jobs and double the new hire probationary period — among other things. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1529 has been in contract negotiations with the company for more than a year.

This isn’t the first time the company has received attention for its highly despicable, racist and sexist treatment of Black women employees in the mostly poor Delta region. In 1990 a successful three-month strike took place against the company. The issues then were adverse health effects of speed-up, a five-minute time limit on lavatory use, low wages and 10- to 13-hour workdays.

The strike was the largest of Black workers in Mississippi history and saw the civil rights and labor movements join together. Boycotts were called and scabs were brought in. A company official even threatened a striker with a gun.

The small gains achieved at the time, such as a 75-cent raise, were enough to create a lasting tension between Delta Pride Catfish and its employees.

Although earlier reports suggested a vote on the contract in the third week of May, union representative Leon Sheppard Jr. spoke with Workers World by phone on May 17 and confirmed that a contract ratification vote as well as a strike vote would take place on either May 26 or 27 and that there have been no further negotiations.

Articles copyright 1995-2010 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Filed under African Americans, class struggle, Corporations, fishing, Gulf States, labor movement, Mississippi, Race, seafood, Southern United States, strike, The Left, Uncategorized, United States, Women, workers

Dead in the water: Eyewitness report from the Lousiana Gulf Coast

Seize BP Campaign activists John Daly and Richard Becker submitted this eyewitness report from Venice, La., on May 11. Go to the original page to read the full article and to watch the video, which contains a powerful interview with a Venice fisherman.

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Filed under Alabama, ANSWER Coalition, class struggle, Corporations, Environment, fishing, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oil, seafood, Southern United States, Texas, Uncategorized, United States, workers

BP oil spill to devastate Gulf fishing industry

From World Socialist Web Site
By Andre Damon and CW Rogers in Louisiana
8 May 2010

The massive and growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico will likely devastate the fishing industry in the region, a key component of the overall economy.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expanded the boundaries of the closed fishing area in response to the growing oil spill. The new area covers a broad swath of Gulf waters off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Location of Fishing Exclusion Zone (Source NOAA)

The decision came as the oil slick hit land on the Chandeleur Islands of Louisiana and was headed toward the mainland of the state. Parts of the slick have also approached the swampy areas of the Mississippi River.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Corporations, Environment, fishing, Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oil, restaurants, seafood, Southern United States, Texas, Uncategorized, United States, workers

Seize BP National Day of Action

The ANSWER Coalition’s Seize BP National Day of Action that took place on May 12, 2010 involved demonstrations and rallies in many cities across the country. It was a good launch for an important campaign. You can read the campaign’s official report on the National Day of Action here.

What follows are excerpts from the report which cover the demonstrations which took place in Southern towns and cities. Contrary to what some believe, the movement is NOT just in the East and West Coasts.

Hammond, Louisiana

Students from Southeastern Louisiana University took the lead in organizing a demonstration at Cate Square in downtown Hammond drawing a significant response from cars passing by in the after work traffic. Protestors chanted “from the Gulf to Iraq, Make BP pay it back!”

Hammond is a university town, but the area is dependent on the fishing industry that facing tremendous risk.

“I think Amite is going to feel it and throughout the region. Amite is one of the main oyster shucking locations in Louisiana. There’s many oyster shucking houses and there’s a lot of seafood business there even though it’s not right on the coast,” said protest organizer, Gregory Esteven, who is from Amite, La., just 25 minutes North of Hammond.

Austin, Texas

A spirited group of protestors assembled in front of the Texas State Capitol to make their voices heard. The group rallied for two hours, chanting “Seize BP!” nearly continuously. Several started chants of their own.

If passers-by are any indication, Austinites want to put people and the environment before profits. Pedestrians and drivers were overwhelmingly supportive of Seize BP’s message, and some even stopped to join the demonstration. Others stopped to ask about the campaign and discuss their fears about the catastrophe in the Gulf.

Andrew Trayham expressed concern about the people who will be put out of work by BP’s criminal negligence, asking “How will all those people get by after they lose their jobs?” James Hunter, agreeing with Mr. Trayham, said, “It’s disgusting that BP is able to reap such huge profits by putting the environment and people’s livelihoods at risk.”

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Protesters took to the corner of Hardy St and Westover Drive a busy intersection during rush hour traffic. The location provided the opportunity to show our message to those passing by the BP Station behind us. “We received many thumbs-up and one car even stopped mid-way through her turn to ask about the protest,” said Rob Sayers, the protest organizer.

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Several dozen protesters gathered in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. Organizers used the location to highlight how the federal court system was a major arena where victims of the Exxon/Valdez spill were denied justice for more than twenty years.

The Ft Lauderdale action was covered by the major newspapers in South Florida, as well as both English and Spanish TV channels. Prior to the demonstration, the local press ran significant coverage of the Seize BP Campaign’s National Day of Actions.

St. Petersburg and Tallahassee, Florida

About 40 people protested in front of a BP gas station in St. Petersburg, Fl. Seven local media outlets were present, and response from the rush hour traffic was positive. 

In Tallahassee, dozens of protesters came out to demand “Seize BP.” People chanted and held signs and banners. Major mass media outlets and local newspapers covered the spirited event.

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Filed under Florida, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oil, Southern United States, The Left, Uncategorized, United States