Alan Benjamin and Ed Rosario, Co-Editors, Unity & Independence
On Sept. 6, Malcolm Suber, a leader of the fightback movement in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, filed to run for the City Council At-Large in the upcoming Oct. 20 elections. He is running to promote the Reconstruction Party, a party whose National Organizing Committee was launched in New Orleans on Sept. 2nd.
As Brother Suber filed his campaign papers, his supporters gathered in front of the New Orleans District Courthouse with posters that read. "For Post-Katrina Justice on the New Orleans City Council: Vote Malcolm Suber and the Reconstruction Party" --"Bring Our People Home Now: Just Reconstruction Now!" and "He Stood Up for US. Now We Must Stand Up For Him!" His campaign is generating widespread support among local activists and among Survivors in cities across the country.
In this issue of Unity & Independence (September-October 2007), we are publishing the letter of endorsement of Brother Suber's campaign an the Reconstruction Party by former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. Also published in this section are three additional texts: (1) an interview with Brother Suber conducted by U&I correspondent Donna Kesselman, (2) an endorsement statement by Labor Party leader Adolph Reed, and (3) a Sign-On Appeal for endorsements and financial contributions for this campaign.
We urge all our readers to support both the Malcolm Suber campaign in New Orleans and the effort under way to promote the Reconstruction Party nationwide. Join with other activists in your cities to build Local Organizing Committees for the Reconstruction Party.
To endorse the Malcolm Suber Campaign and the Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee, please fill out the Sign-on Statement below and return it to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Financial contributions are needed urgently and can be made via the PayPal link on the campaign website -- which is http://www.malcolmforcitycouncil.com -- or by sending a check or money order (in U.S. dollars), payable to Malcolm Suber Campaign, to 1631 Elysian Fields Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117.
For more information about the campaign or how you can help, please call (504) 931-7614.
We thank you in advance for your support to this effort.
Alan Benjamin and Ed Rosario,
Unity & Independence
2) Endorsement Statement by Cynthia McKinney
September 13, 2007
I, Cynthia McKinney, former Member of Congress for the people of Georgia, would like to hereby declare my full support for the formation of an independent Reconstruction Party in the United States. I also declare my full support for Brother Malcolm Suber's candidacy for New Orleans City Council in the October 20, 2007 elections.
Brother Suber is a long time revolutionary fighter for Black and working class liberation, a dedicated community organizer, and a staunch internationalist.
Brother Suber has recently offered himself as a founding member of the Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee, which will embody the fighting spirit and organizing form to lead the people into a new New Orleans and new Gulf Coast, where the lives of the people will come before the profits of capitalist corporations.
Brother Suber and I strongly believe that the Reconstruction Movement must move to its next and logical phase, which is the contest for political power if we are truly to have a just and equitable reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. The facts on the ground clearly demonstrate that we cannot rely on failed politicians and failing political parties which are complicit in the lack of preparation, the failure to rescue, and the continued refusal to advance the right to return for hundreds of thousands of people who continue to be displaced.
I join Brother Suber in calling on our friends and supporters from around the country to support the formation of the Reconstruction Party, which is needed to address the myriad problems of institutional racism, class domination, historical poverty, and sexism which plague working people in the cities throughout this country. The problems faced in these cities are no different than the problems faced by those in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
The politicians and machinery of both these parties have been proven complicit in the genocidal policies against our people. The systematic and intentional crimes associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were submitted for evidence at the International Tribunal on Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, held in New Orleans from August 29th through September 2nd on the two-year anniversary of the disaster. The Tribunal's conveners and judges were representative of workers' and democratic peoples' movements in the U.S. and abroad. The U.S. government at all levels --federal, state, and local -- were proven responsible for these atrocities.
Brother Suber and the Reconstruction Party have my full and unequivocal support, and I will do whatever is in my power to advance their platform, a platform of the people.
3) Interview with Malcolm Suber: Reconstruction Party Candidate for the New Orleans City Council at Large
[Note: The following interview was conducted on Sept. 6, 2007, by U&I correspondent Donna Kesselman.]
Unity & Independence: Tell us a bit about your yourself. ...
Malcolm Suber: I've been a textile worker, an autoworker, a college professor, a printer, and the executive director of UrbanHeart, an inner-city school program. I've also been a community organizer against police terror and U.S. imperialist war and for unionizing unorganized workers.
I've been an active fighter in the Black Liberation Movement and working class struggle for power dating from my youth in South Carolina. I was a student leader at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. I lecture on Black Liberation around the United States.
I am a founding member of the Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund. I am running for the New Orleans City Council as the first candidate of the Reconstruction Party.
U&I: Why are you running for the New Orleans City Council?
Suber: We want to win this seat so working class and poor Black folk have some representation at city hall and to move toward building the Reconstruction Party.
Our people's campaign is building a Reconstruction Movement for our people's right to return back home. We've witnessed the failure of federal, state and local officials to do anything to get people back home.
The local white ruling class program is to change the city's demographics, eliminating the Black people. We should decide how our community should look when it's rebuilt. We won't allow the land-grabbers of Black people's land, the gentrifiers, to chase out those who really built this city.
If we want real justice and equity, we'll have to do it ourselves. The Democratic politicians, the same old folks, won't do it. The two big capitalist parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, make empty promises to the people, while awarding the politically connected. What they've done for Katrina Survivors adds up to almost nothing.
It's going to take a fight on the streets to get people home. We have to seize this opportunity to elect one of our own. At the very least, we will raise the issues people have on their minds. I've been fighting for 30 years in this city -- and we will continue fighting, whether we win this election or not.
Working people -- not just uptown whites and book-licking college presidents -- need to sit on the city boards and expose how the machine delivers the goods to those who presently run this city. Our slogan is "nothing about us, without us, is for us." Ours is a campaign for full participation of working class and poor Black people in decision-making about relief and reconstruction after the storm and great flood.
The right to return remains an empty phrase without governmental policies making it possible for our people to return. Policies must defend working people's interests against police terror and ensure the reopening of Charity Hospital, which served working and poor people in now devastated areas. We will defend our people's culture. They are keeping Black working class social and pleasure club organizers and Mardi Gras Indians out of the city.
Most important, this is not a bourgeois campaign. No contributions from business or rich people are accepted. We will rely on contributions from poor and working class people to finance my/their campaign. We ask working people to campaign, go door-to-door, call their friends and raise funds.
I am for public election funds so working people can run, whatever their economic situation -- not $1,000 dollar breakfasts, because rich people want favors from politicians who accept their money.
U&I: How does this fit in with the national campaign?
Suber: We believe the Reconstruction Movement needs a Reconstruction Party. This party is being launched in New Orleans to refocus local and national priorities on human needs and a just society. Locally, the focus is a full and just reconstruction of our city after Hurricane Katrina and levee failures, with the full involvement of those affected by these disasters.
Everything happening in New Orleans is so profound; it is a dress rehearsal for the ruling class around the country. They exploited Katrina to advance their program to smash public schools and introduce charter schools. The program of the ruling class is to privatize everything: schools, health care, prisons.
They want to go back to plantation days. People were taken out at gun point during Katrina, as they don't want working class people in the city who are not working for them. Those not working "unemployed, ill, elderly" must go. They don't want the social safety net or any social programs at all.
The Gulf Coast Reconstruction Movement is raising the fundamental questions about what the kind of society we want to live in, whether we should be re-electing people who defend the rich and their unjust rule.
We only have millionaire ruling classâ€™s twin parties to do the bidding of the rich. We have a government not of, by, and for the people -- but of, by and for the rich. Working people deserve better than what they are given in this society.
We need a party of our own, the Reconstruction Party, to advance our program and our interests. A mass Reconstruction Party in this country would represent the interests of working and oppressed folks. We think our campaign here and the interests we engender around our city council race will engender support for the Reconstruction Party nationally. It also can engender the interest of working people around the world.
U&I: What initiatives have you taken to get your campaign off the ground?
Suber: We are building a â€œMalcolm Suber for City Council-at-Large Election/Reconstruction Party Committeeâ€ composed of community activists and working class people fighting for change in New Orleans. We are also reaching out to the Diaspora, especially our people in Houston, Atlanta and Jackson, Mississippi.
Challenges to our people's voting rights continue. In this election, like the 2006 mayor's elections, they refuse satellite voting -- so our people will have to come home to vote or vote absentee with all its problems. We will do outreach for only our campaign actually champions their right to return by advocating support for their moving expenses and rental expenses, the fight for rent control, the reopening of public housing, an end to homelessness.
We will join the NAACP suit against Louisiana authorities who purged 20,000 New Orleans voters from the rolls.
U&I: What can people across the country and internationally do to support your campaign?
Suber: We welcome support for this campaign. People interested in sending letters of endorsement and campaign contributions can visit our website at www.malcolmforcitycouncil.com. We also can be reached at ReconstructionParty@gmail.com and at tel. 504-931-7614.
4) Adolph Reed's Endorsement of Malcolm Suber for City Council Campaign
[Note: Adolph Reed is a member of the Interim National Council of the
As some of you probably already know, Malcolm Suber recently entered the race in a special election for an at-large seat on the New Orleans City Council.
The election will be held on October 20; so there's a short time frame for getting resources to the campaign. Contributions can be made at the campaign's website: http://malcolmforcitycouncil.com/
This Council seat became vacant last month when Oliver Thomas -- generally considered heir apparent to Mayor Ray Nagin and the developers' darling -- resigned after being indicted for taking a $15,000 bribe. Thomas several years ago led the charge to demolish the St. Thomas low-income housing project as part of the gentrification agenda for the Lower Garden District. More notoriously, in January of 2006, in response to early complaints that public housing residents were being kept from returning to the city, Thomas declared bluntly that they should stay away, that the city "doesn't need soap opera watchers now."
His fall and Malcolm's candidacy in this special election provide a potentially important opportunity to begin to build a coherent and grounded alternative politics and political discourse in New Orleans. Malcolm has been agitating in the city for three decades, is known as a person with clear, principled politics and is rooted in the local political scene.
He is a founder and key leader of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund (PHRF), which has been the main vehicle for agitation and advocacy on behalf of renters, displaced public housing residents, and other poor and working people. His victory would provide a clear and resolute voice on the Council that insists that those constituencies be included in the circle of stakeholders in the crafting of the city's recovery and physical and economic reconstruction. This is a pressing immediate need, as an 18th century model of citizenship that recognizes only property-owners has taken hold without discussion or debate. The impact of this model is clearly visible in the skewed pattern of recovery and rebuilding around the city -- both between and within neighborhoods.
Those forces in New Orleans that are primarily focused on providing services are able at this point to benefit from the private foundations that are pumping money into the city. However, the more important effort now is the fight to determine the city's political future, the fight to inject the interests and concerns of poor and working people into the policy agenda -- and obviously Ford, Rockefeller, Gates et al will not fund that kind of work.
The PHRF has been at the forefront of that fight since the city was still flooded, in concert with other closely allied organizing initiatives among displaced public housing residents, the new homeless population in the city, and those fighting for workers' rights under the new regime of Nagin's "market-driven" recovery.
Malcolm's campaign has the potential to galvanize these forces into a coherent local movement, which is exactly what the city needs.
5) SIGN-ON ENDORSEMENT STATEMENT OF RECONSTRUCTION PARTY ORGANIZING COMMITTEE AND
MALCOLM SUBER FOR NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL CAMPAIGN
We, the undersigned, believe the Reconstruction Movement needs to move to its next and logical phase, which is the contest for political power if we are truly to have a just and equitable reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We cannot rely on the failed politicians and parties, namely the Democratic and Republican parties, to do this.
We support the formation of the Reconstruction Party, which is needed to address the myriad problems of institutional racism, class domination, historical poverty and sexism which plagues working people in cities throughout this country. We hereby agree to be part of a Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee.
We call upon friends and activists across the country to assist us in developing and contributing to the platform of a Reconstruction Party that can really begin to ignite the Black Liberation Movement and the workers' struggle for power. [Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.]
We call upon you to form Reconstruction Party/Malcolm Suber Campaign Committees in cities across the country.
[Note: This statement was endorsed by approximately 50 activists at the International Tribunal on Katrina the weekend of Sept. 1-2, 2007. The list of endorsers is in construction.]
* I authorize my name to be listed publicly as an endorser of the Malcolm Suber for City Council Campaign and a Supporter of the Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee
[ ] Yes. You can list my name publicly.
[ ] No. I wish to be a supporter but cannot have my name listed publicly.
* I pledge $ ____ to the Malcolm Suber/Reconstruction Party Fund. I will send my contribution:
[ ] via the PayPal link on the website: http://www.malcolmforcitycouncil.com
[ ] via snail-mail, with check or Money Order payable to Malcolm Suber Campaign and sent to 1631 Elysian Fields Ave., New Orleans, LA 70117.
[Please fill-in this endorsement coupon and send to firstname.lastname@example.org and to email@example.com. For more information, call 504-931-7614.]
UNITY & INDEPENDENCE
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