Could Jackson, Mississippi become the capital of cooperative economics in the south? Mayor Chokwe Lumumba imagined it this way, championing a vision of solidarity economics to heal the city's economic wounds and move forward into a new, more inclusive economy.
Despite the Mayor's untimely death, the imagining took a step forward a few weeks ago in the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference. With your help, GRITtv was able to travel to Jackson, Mississippi to the Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference to watch, and document the conversation as it unfolded.
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"The main thing people are interested in is jobs. I need a job, I need childcare, I need healthcare," Kali Akuno, a member of Cooperative Jackson said in an interview. "If we can figure that out together, I'm all in."
Jackson, like many cities across the United States and particularly the south, have experienced a decline in the industries that once were the backbone of their economy. Many buildings across the capital stand empty, and the workers who are still there are lucky to be making as little as $10 an hour. Still, despite this moment of economic despair, some Jacksonians are hopeful that a paradigm shift towards a cooperative model could revive the city.
"My goal is to see how many seeds we can plant so that we can see a complete cultural shift," Elandria Williams, Co-Cordinator of the Education Team at Highlander Research and Education Center said. "Even if we shift the policies, and there is more cooperation and technical assistance in Jackson, if we don't culturally shift, then it doesn't matter."