Recently Alex Kogan of the University of the Poor interviewed Erica Nanton. Erica Nanton is a Miami-born and Chicago-based organizer, community leader and activist in the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She has worked on initiatives in Chicago around education justice, police accountability, and racial and economic justice, as well as national work to hold those in power accountable. She was part of the struggle to raise the Cook County minimum wage to $13 per hour, and marched for 200 miles over 15 days in May 2017 from Chicago to Springfield, IL to fight for a People and Planet First Budget. A member of the Local School Council at Southside Occupational Academy, her recent work includes registering inmates to vote at Cook County jail as part of Chicago Votes, where she served as a Community Engagement Manager. She works with a coalition of students, parents and teachers from Englewod, IL who are fighting the closure of public high schools in their area.
Never has a generation faced a challenge of this magnitude
Cross-posted from the Brooklyn Rail
By Peter St. Clair
In all the long duration of human history, from the ancient sacred crypts of Egypt to the glistening towers of our coastal megapolises, there has never been a crisis as severe, as devastating, or as cataclysmic as the one unfolding now. Unless drastic changes are made in very short order to the human social system that encompasses the planet, dire and frightening transformations that cannot be reversed will develop in the Earth’s climate, its ocean, and its biosphere. Never has a generation faced a challenge of this magnitude. The fate of all present and future humans, and of the millions of species that share the Earth with us, now hinges on the choices and actions taken immediately by the present generation alive on the planet today.
This is not hyperbole. Scanning the daily news brings only alarm and foreboding. Read more “Facing The Heat (Brooklyn Rail)”
By Amy Miller
I have been blessed these last few months. Blessed to feel inspired, curious, connected, and so grateful for — of all things — a course on the movement to end slavery. Offered by the University of the Poor, two classes of about 20 folks each read articles and book chapters, watched videos and listened to podcasts, then met online for 10 weeks, just an hour & a half a week, to dig into the history. In some ways it was just a survey course on a particular historical time period — roughly 1820–1865 — but our context, our teachers, our texts, our students, our focus, and our ambition made it entirely unique.
A few years ago, while we were still in the pre-stages of building a new Poor People’s Campaign (before we had the phrase A National Call for Moral Revival) I heard John Wessel-McCoy from the Kairos Center and University of the Poor teach a 2-hour version of this 10-week course. Read more “Why Would We Think We Cannot Win? A Love Letter from the Movement to End Poverty to the Movement to End Slavery”
By Bruce Edwards
Three essays by Bruce Edwards outlining “What are classes?”, “Why Are We Poor?” and “We Are the Poor!”Read more “Three Essays by Bruce Edwards, “What are classes? Why are we poor? We are the poor!””
By Willie Baptist
“History has taught…it is not enough for people to be angry—the supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.” — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., February 23, 1968
Download this important book by Willie Baptist that explains the need for a movement by and for the poor and dispossessed that can become a new and unsettling force.Read more “It’s Not Enough to Be Angry”
By Bruce Edwards
Laurence H. Shoup, Wall Street’s Think Tank. (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015).
Revolutionaries seek to end capitalism and move to the next stage of human development. That’s a tall order. In order to carry it out we have to know exactly what forces are arrayed on the political battlefield. That means we have to know the political enemy thoroughly.
So every revolutionary – without exception – should read – at minimum – the Preface to this book, which is less than 20 pages. It outlines the thrust of the book: that the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is the Central Committee of the U.S. capitalist class. The rest of the book outlines in detail who the central players in the CFR are and have been, how the CFR works, and which organizations and corporations it works through. Along with Domhoff’s The Powers That Be (see my review), this is essential reading on understanding who and what we are up against. Read more “Book Review – Laurence H. Shoup, Wall Street’s Think Tank”
By Bruce Edwards
G. William Domhoff, The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America. (New York: Vintage Books, 1979).
This is a must-read book for every revolutionary and activist because it details exactly how the class enemy – the capitalist class – rules the United States. It’s dated – and an update would be wonderful – but the detailed analysis remains completely valid. Domhoff describes with crystal clarity the inner operations of bourgeois democracy.
The book is straight forward. In the first chapter Domhoff lays out four processes by which the ruling class rules. The remaining four chapters are each on one of the processes. There is no filler. The book is direct and detailed, laying out how the ruled are ruled and the actual organizations and connections that carry out that rule. The four processes are 1) the special-interest process, 2) the policy-formation process, 3) the candidate-selection process, and 4) the ideology process. Read more “Book Review – G. William Domhoff, The Powers That Be: Processes of Ruling Class Domination in America.”
By Nacho Gonzalez
His friends and comrades – the downtrodden and those who fought for the oppressed – called him Fidel; his enemies and foes – the one per-centers, Cuban plantation owners and their lackeys – called him Castro. He was a giant of a revolutionary who upset the apple cart. He defied the world’s biggest bully – U.S. Imperialism – for 56 years. You knew that he had won a symbolic victory when The New York Times, the leading propaganda organ for the U.S. ruling class had to devote two-thirds of the front page and six inside pages to highlighting his life and its impact.
Fidel influenced several generations of revolutionaries throughout the world with his steadfastness and clarity of vision. On New Years Day 1960 Fidel came from nowhere when his rag tag rebel army (Los Barbudos) overthrew the brutal dictator Fulgencio Batista, a puppet of the U.S. and business partner of the Mafia. Read more “Fidel Castro Ruz – 1926 – 2016 ”
Updated April 2020
How we got here
The University of the Poor emerged from the collective experience of a broad network of organizations and efforts. It comes from our reflection on many past successes and failures in developing cadre committed to the unity and leadership of the poor. Our lineage includes work with homeless unions, welfare rights organizations, trade unions and various other grassroots and poor people’s organizations.
This work has shown us the need to understand and respond to changes in the political and economic landscape, develop leaders with clarity and vision, as well as the commitment to unite the poor and dispossessed who have been historically divided to our detriment.
We have observed that without deeper education, people who are organized only on the basis of narrowly understood and short-term interests tend to leave the movement instead of becoming committed leaders. They leave once their immediate needs are met, or once they face failure in a campaign, or backlash, or other kinds of defeat. Read more “University of the Poor Concept Paper”
Del Documento Conceptual de la Universidad de los Pobres
La misión de la Universidad de los Pobres es identificar y desarrollar, de forma sistémica, líderes entregados a la unidad de los pobres y desposeídos tras líneas de color y otras líneas de división para construir un movimiento poderoso y con base amplia para acabar con la pobreza.
Nuestros oponentes tienen gabinetes estratégicos, centros de entrenamiento, revistas, universidades, y fundaciones para entender este momento en la historia, desarrollar su ideología, avanzar las organizaciones políticas de sus clases, y reproducir sus líderes intelectuales. Nosotros necesitamos estas clases de organizaciones también. Para poder pelear la batalla ideológica y política necesaria para acabar con la pobreza con éxito, necesitamos desarrollar la unidad de los pobres y los desposeídos, tanto en pensamiento, como en acción.
Nos basamos en la visión del Reverendo Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., cuyo reconocimiento activo durante los últimos años de su vida de la necesidad de unir a los pobres como una “fuerza nueva e inquietante,” era muy presiente, anticipando la actual situación económica y política mundial:
Conseguir que los pobres y desposeídos “actúen juntos” como los pobres y desposeídos pueden hacer hoy, sirve como un punto de reunión para atraer la mayor masa del pueblo que ahora son cada vez más, asaltados económicamente y políticamente. Read more “¿Que es la Universidad de los Pobres?”