From the American South to Global South: Emery Wright and Fred Bauma

This week The Laura Flanders Show comes from Whitakers, North Carolina, and the annual gathering of The Southern Movement Assemblies, a living experiment in popular Democracy and local self-governance.

Plantation politics, monopoly capitalism, incarceration instead of peace, a lot of the worst of the US experience has its roots in the South, but so do much of the best. From slave revolts to abolition, to organized labor, and civil rights. If the country goes as the South goes, what grassroots progressives to here matters. That's why we're here this week. For today's special, we partnered with Project South, an anchor organization of the Southern Movement Assemblies. Laura was joined by co-host LaDie Mansfield. 

Laura Flanders:This week, from the US South, the birth place of so much of our economics and governance system in the United States. Could the alternatives to those systems be emerging? It's just possible. This week we come to you from Whitakers, North Carolina, in a spacial co-production with Project South, an anchor organization of the Southern Movement Assemblies.

Emery Wright:SMA really developed out of our experiencing what wasn't available in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the Gulf Coast Disaster, we saw that there was no mechanism for social movements to come together, make decisions, and then implement those decisions at the scale that was necessary to respond to that level of disaster. And, so, we kind of made commitments to ourselves as relatively young organizers back in 2005, that part of our generational struggle was to figure out this question of movement governance, and how can social movements come together, make decisions, and implement those decisions on a scale commensurate to the level of disaster, crisis that we're facing.

Part of the process that needs to be front and center within the Southern Movement Assembly is to connect with our brothers and sisters in the global South because there's so much shared cultural foundations, but, also, shared struggles. And so we can use that to build, not only grassroots power in the US South, but grassroots social movement power globally. 

Fred Bauma:What resonates for me is that idea that we can no longer wait until the state come and do everything for us. We must be able to build a civil society, which is proactive, and which can find solutions for our own problem in our own environment. In Lucha Movement, we don't have any single leader. We have a core team, which is kind of playing a strategic role on the moment, but the leadership is like flat leadership. It's spread among many cells, and many people.
What Lucha is doing is by educating people, we are trying to end that feeling of powerlessness. We are working on finding our own solution. We are holding them accountable for what they are doing, and for what they are not doing, and we are make sure that they understand that if they don't do what they have to do, we will use our citizen power to make sure that they will face their responsibility, and through election or through mass demonstration, that they will... that we will hold them accountable for their actions.

Emery Wright:Part of our struggle, certainly with Project South, has been trying to connect to what we call the Black Radical Traditions of the US South, and we think now because of what's happening globally, that history is very, very important to tap into today, both the idea of petitioning authorities for redress or change, but also, maybe even more importantly, creating what we need at the grassroots and providing that change for ourselves. 

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