Tag Archives: Alabama

BP ad shows protesters during National Shrimp Festival in Alabama

This was originally posted at al.com

GULF SHORES, Alabama — BP launched its new television advertising campaign this week touting its commitment to the Gulf Coast’s post-oil spill recovery, and a small group of anti-BP protesters are enjoying some extra exposure.

The Alabama Oil Spill Aftermath Coalition held a small demonstration near the site of the 40th annual National Shrimp Festival in October and a few seconds of the popular event are shown in the nationally televised BP ad.

In the minute-long ad’s brief segment showing the Shrimp Festival, crowds line the Gulf Shores beachfront under clear skies. On the beach, beyond the festival grounds, the small group can be seen.

In an email to fuelfix.com, Michele Harmon, who is associated with the coalition, said she noticed cameras panning the scene from the roof of a nearby restaurant.

“I, like the rest of the protesters, assumed they were media filming the crowds at the festival,” Harmon said. “When they panned the cameras our way, we made sure they knew we were there, in hopes of getting media coverage.”

Kim McCuiston of Foley, another organizers of the event, told the Press-Register at the time that the Oct. 15 rally was an attempt to tell people that not enough had been done to clean the Gulf since the spill.

Can’t make this stuff up!

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Filed under Alabama, BP, Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, Gulf States

Tensions rise as Latinos feel under siege in America’s deep south

[From a recent Guardian article]

In Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, new laws have been signed that represent the toughest crackdown on illegal immigrants – the vast majority of whom are Hispanics – in America. They give the police sweeping new powers and require them, and employers, to check people’s immigration status. In Alabama, they even make helping illegal immigrants, by giving them a lift in a car or shelter in a home, into a serious crime. For many, the laws echo the deep south’s painful history of segregation, sending out a message to people of a different colour: you are not wanted here.

“That is exactly right,” said Andrew Turner, a lawyer with the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Centre. “We view it within the context of the history of the deep south. It is using the law to push out and marginalise an ethnic minority.”

The new laws’ defenders deny that. They are merely enforcing the law, they say. Their problem is not with immigrants, but with those who came to America illegally. They say the laws are colour-blind and aimed at making sure everyone obeys the same rules and does not cheat the system.

Yet illegal immigrants have become a fundamental part of the American system. Huge swaths of the economy rely on the cheap labour they provide.


The article points out an important part of “illegal” immigration that is often referred to in the overall narrative.  That is that undocumented workers have “become a part” of the American system overall.  The mainstream accounts of this often even point to the drive for cheep labor by capital as the source of the “problem” here, yet they continue to allow reactionary rhetoric dominate the discourse and put the blame on those coming here to find exploitative conditions of work.

The only way to fight this framework and empower undocumented workers is to build a movement that fights back.  And this movement is currently underway in much of the South.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Georgia, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, State's rights

Alabama surpasses Arizona with racist anti-immigrant law

by KurtFF8

Alabama recently passed a new anti-immigrant law that many have described as “more harsh” than the controversial anti-immigrant law in Arizona that essentially promotes racial profiling (this argument is focused on the fact that folks can be questioned for being “suspected of” being an undocumented worker).  Georgia recently passed a similar law, making the South the center of the immigration debate.

As usual, both sides of the “mainstream” debate fall short of getting to the real issues at heart: the real manifestations of racism, and international labor relations (see NAFTA as an important variable to immigration itself).  Even the “liberal” arguments against these laws are full of sentiments like “well immigrants do the jobs no one else wants to do for that price.”  This line of logic is just as problematic as the more “overtly racist” arguments by the far-Right, in that the “servant class” role for undocumented workers is seen as justified or not problematic itself.

Florida also recently attempted to pass a similar law, but the state legislature as not unified and faced a strong activist response (with the Florida Capitol looking a lot like the halls of the Wisconsin Capitol for a few days).

These laws need to be fought with a mass movement based on solidarity and workers power.

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Florida, Georgia, Human Rights, immigration, Leftists in the U.S. South, racism, Southern United States, Tallahassee, workers

Organize The South! Dante Strobino, co-founder Raleigh, North Carolina, FIST, and UE field organizer. Nov. 13, 2010

This is a great, short talk by Dante Strobino from the Workers World Party national conference. He discusses the specific conditions facing the South, as well as the centrality of developing the revolutionary movement in this part of the country if we are to overthrow capitalism. – hastenawait

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, North Carolina, Race, Revolution, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, The Left, United States, workers, Workers World Party

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

Announcement: Southern Human Rights Organizer’s Conference


Website here

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Filed under African Americans, Alabama, class struggle, Gulf States, Human Rights, Imperialism, labor movement, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Uncategorized, United States, Upcoming Events, Women, workers

Psychosis, Phallus, and Ronnie Van Zant’s Ashes

Submitted by Isolau Vanickova


In 2000 the tombs of Lynyrd Skynyrd front man Ronnie Van Zant and one of his band mates were vandalized near their hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. For uncertain reasons, the vandals had attempted to remove part of Van Zant’s cremated remains. Many speculated on whether the perpetrators were doing it out of disrespect or adoration. Either situation seemed plausible, with the ubiquity in that band’s hometown of raging drunk “free bird” criers and their distraught and rebellious children alike. For many southerners in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s heyday, Van Zant’s message was a sort of vindication. Unavoidably embedded in the spirits of the times around them, many of the young whites in the South wanted neither to allow for the bigoted system to triumph nor to pander to northern paternalism, such as that criticized by Van Zant and company in “Sweet Home Alabama,” his tongue-in-cheek response to Neil Young from 1974.

The message seemed clear enough: We can do it ourselves, “Montgomery has the answer.” In fact, it is precisely in the song’s lyrics expressing the progressives’ collective national disdain for pro-segregation Alabama governor George Wallace that the particularizing blow against Young is delivered:

“Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
Well, I heard ole Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A southern man don’t need him around anyhow…”

Young, for his part, adored the independent solidarity expressed by his musical counterparts. If the “southern man” was thus vindicated, both reunited with his comrades to the north and unimpeded by their economic and cultural dominance, then the formula for a certain change had been created. Perhaps the most important example of that change can be found today not in the change to unity between southern freedom riders and northern student protestors, but in the change in Governor Wallace to a particular sort of born-again Christianity. Although he publically claimed that a 1972 assassination attempt had changed his perspective on race, one cannot help but think that Wallace’s future political ideology – one thriving if not predominant today – had already been arrived at by Young and Van Zant. As the man who had once physically stood in the path of federal troops at the University of Alabama to prevent its integration began to seek the black vote, those in the young white vote had already begun to seek new terms for their place in American society. This new ideology, shared by Van Zant and Wallace alike, came to be known as “states’ rights”.

“States’ rights” had long been the calling card of pro-segregationists in the south as it had been of their pro-slavery civil-war era ancestors. Opposition to the federalist system has never been exclusively southern nor exclusively conservative as it is most familiar to us today, but what was unique about Wallace’s political craftsmanship was its ability to so thoroughly alter the entire nation’s future. Arriving at an appropriate time, the populist call to smaller government has become what has been called the “Southernization” of American politics, and of America in general. As the lyrics go: “Now Watergate does not bother me/ Does your conscience bother you?” So it is that the striking out against the paternalistic north has become the striking out against the paternalistic federal state, where we’re all, with a healthy dose of defiance, going back to Sweet Home Alabama.

It is no wonder then that for some of a later generation in the South the figure of Ronnie Van Zant would loom so ominously over them as an unbearable paternalistic symbol itself. Thus the attempt to steal his ashes begs the Lacanian questions: Was this a vulgar attempt to capture a relic of phallic significance on the part of the Skynyrd generation? Or, was this an attack on the Primordial Signifier (the Name-of-the-Father)? For the sake of psychoanalytic questioning, both questions are important. What is the contemporary political ideology without its phallus, the “southern man”? Maybe even more important, if it is the father’s phallic signification that is being attacked, what must the continued import of such signification be if the ultimate result of an oppositional struggle is not to result in psychosis, lacking the symbolic connection between the imaginary and real orders? The threatening echo that the “southern man don’t need [one] around anyhow” continues to ring true with the surreal comic and horrific qualities of Slim Pickens riding an atom bomb to oblivion.

The mystery of the would-be grave robbers still continues unsolved. Ronnie Van Zant’s remains have since been relocated, allegedly buried in an impenetrable concrete vault. They rest in Jacksonville’s Memorial Park in the newly gentrified, liberal- and art-promoted Riverside neighborhood, the recent site of racist graffiti bearing tea-party sympathies. His final resting place remains unmarked.

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Filed under Gender, Psychoanalysis, Southern Identity, Southern Strategy, Southern United States, Theory, Uncategorized, United States

Sooo…the United States is the greatest country in the world, you say? Best place on earth to live, you say?

Submitted by Dustin Getz, of Alabama

A few days ago a conservative told me that only the radical left saw immense problems at home in the U.S., and that the rest of the country was content to just live their lives as best they could. I gave this some thought, and I think this is far from the truth. I think there are many, many people that sense a huge problem but aren’t quite sure what it is.

Just ask the mother with a nursing baby that was evicted from her apartment despite the fact that she has no family nearby, or perhaps her family is in a position hardly better than her own? Would she say there are no big problems facing this nation? What about the homeless man who can’t get on government programs because of having been convicted of a drug felony?

What about the grandmother that had her home payed off and is raising her grandchildren because their mother is in prison for having to sell her body because she couldn’t find a “real” job and their father is serving a life sentence for selling crack cocaine, and then joined the refinancing craze only to be swallowed up by the adjustable rate trap and had her home she had lived in for 30 years taken from her? What about the family with their credit destroyed to the point of not being able to rent or buy a house because of medical bills?

These people, and millions more, see a problem. Oh yes, they see a problem. It is only a matter of time and effort till we can make them see the solution. A Socialist society is the answer. When this large group of disenfranchised Americans come to realize this on a mass scale, the fat cats in Washington D.C. and the state capitols should tremble. For on that day, the age of capitalism in the U.S. will be in it’s last throes.

Sooo…the United States is the greatest country in the world, you say? Best place on Earth to live, you say?

Lets take a look at the truth of that sentiment. I’m not saying we have it bad off here compared to a lot of nations, it’s just that I tire of people thinking we’re all that. The fact is we’re average on most things, decent at some things and below average on some things. Anyway, I’ll shut up and let the facts speak for themselves.

Life expectancy: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_lif_exp_at_bir_tot_pop-life-expectancy-birth-total-population

Infant mortlity rate:  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html

Abortion rates: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_abo_percap-health-abortions-per-capita

Crime: http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita

Overall crime rates:  http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_tot_cri_percap-crime-total-crimes-per-capita

Education: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/11/26/world/main530872.shtml

“South Korea has the most effective education system in the world’s richest countries, with Japan in second place and the United States and Germany near the bottom, a United Nations study said Tuesday.”

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Filed under Alabama, class struggle, Communism, Revolution, The Left, Uncategorized, United States

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

Upcoming: Pro-Palestinian/Anti-Zionist demonstration in Birmingham Alabama on August 21st

There will be a demonstration held in Birmingham Alabama at Five Points South on Sat. August 21st, 2010 in front of Highlands United Methodist Church, 1045 20th Street South Birmingham, AL 35205-2623. It will be held from 5:00PM until 6:30PM. Demonstrators will be responsible for bringing their own sign, banner or flag. For any further details contact Dustin Getz at birminghamsds@gmail.com.

Demonstration hosted by Students For A Democratic Society, Fight Imperialism Stand Together, Birmingham Peace Project and Mas Youth.

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Filed under Alabama, Anti-Imperialism, Anti-War, class struggle, Demonstration Announcements, Imperialism, Middle East, Palestine, Solidarity, Southern United States, United States, Upcoming Events