Boston Learns from Jackson MS

Akuno panel

On Saturday April 28, the Solidarity Economy Initiative hosted “Learning from Jackson: Building a Solidarity Economy in Boston.” Almost 200 came to afternoon workshops and an evening program featuring Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson. This event had many co-sponsors, including from Tufts (Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning, Education, and Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora).

We were all inspired by the experience in Jackson, Mississippi of building independent political power and harnessing community and government resources to build a solidarity economy. Kali Akuno challenged us in Boston to develop a shared vision of our future and then develop strategies for how to get there. He recently co-wrote Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. I was particularly struck by how Akuno described their work on solidarity economy, political organizing, and community building as breaking down the artificial divide between the economic and social.

Read on below for more details of the day.

Akuno event

Repost of article on April 28th event by Boston Ujima Project newsletter:

During the afternoon, we came together for collective learning. Participants attended one of four workshops, covering Solidarity Economy 101, Divest/Invest, Intro to Building Coops, Alternative Land and Housing Report, and Healing in the Solidarity Economy.

In the evening, we were honored to hear a keynote talk from Kali Akuno, a fierce movement builder from Jackson, MI who inspired us with stories and learnings from the work of Cooperation Jackson, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), and the Jackson Kush Plan.  Kali emphasized democracy through People’s Assemblies, experimentation, and the need to prioritize community livelihoods over the rules of our current economy.

Kali Akuno drew connections across geography and history.  He emphasized the need for our movements to support each other, despite our distance and differing contexts: “We need each other to succeed.” And he inspired us to look back at the work that happened decades ago, which made everything we do today possible, including the work of the UNIA and SNCC in Boston, and the leadership of Malcolm X and Bob Moses.

After Kali’s speech, we learned from a panel of incredible local movement leaders: Lisa Husniyyah Owens of City Life/Vida Urbana; Nia Evans of Boston Ujima Project; Elena Letona of Neighbor To Neighbor Massachusetts Education Fund and former City Councilor Chuck Turner.

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Distinguished Senior Lecturer and Director of Master of Public Policy and Community Practice, Tufts University Department of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning

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