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A U.S. Capitol Police officer arrests a climate activist as she participates in civil disobedience during a protest on Capitol Hill October 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Very Strong People Can Defeat the Corporate Jerks

It gets little national media attention, but regular grassroots communities and coalitions are mounting—and winning—such gutsy fights against corporate exploiters all across America

Jim Hightower

 by The Hightower Lowdown

From corporate polluters to political bosses, power elites try to create a myth of inevitability, trying to make workaday people feel helpless, too small to change the injustices of the system. Don't bother is their message.

Remember this: Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the tallest building!

But the feisty residents of Boxtown, Tennessee, definitely did bother when they learned that a couple of profiteering fossil fuel giants were targeting them. Boxtown, a historic Black neighborhood of Memphis settled by former slaves 160 years ago, was considered by Valero Energy and Plains All-American Pipeline to be politically powerless, so when these multibillion-dollar petro powers decided to ram a dirty and dangerous pipeline through the Memphis area, Boxtown was their chosen route. The rich Texas oil barons even sneeringly called the lower-income community, “The point of least resistance.”

Boy did they get that wrong! Those “small" people of Boxtown resisted fiercely and smartly. Most flat-out refused to sell their family land at the thieving price offered by the oil slicks. They forged a unified grassroots coalition (Memphis Community Against the Pipeline), reached out to other neighborhoods, and educated locals about the terrible safety records of the two corporate plunderers. They also enlisted environmental groups to help beat back the strong-arm attempt by Valero and Plains All-American to seize the people's property through eminent domain. It's a long story, with many ups and downs, but the inspiring essence of it is that local “nobodies" defeated the big money and raw racist arrogance of a powerhouse duo of absentee corporate elites that disrespected—and misjudged—them.

It gets little national media attention, but regular grassroots communities and coalitions are mounting—and winning—such gutsy fights against corporate exploiters all across America. We're not helpless or too small—remember this: Even the smallest dog can lift its leg on the tallest building! To learn more, contact MemphisCAP.org.


© 2020 Hightower Lowdown
Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the books "Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow" (2008) and "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos: A Work of Political Subversion" (1998). Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

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