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A Freedom Budget for All Americans

A Freedom Budget for All Americans: Recapturing the Promise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Struggle for Economic Justice Today

Paul Le Blanc
Michael D. Yates
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg4r6
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  • Book Info
    A Freedom Budget for All Americans
    Book Description:

    While the Civil Rights Movement is remembered for efforts to end segregation and secure the rights of African Americans, the larger economic vision that animated much of the movement is often overlooked today. That vision sought economic justice for every person in the United States, regardless of race. It favored production for social use instead of profit; social ownership; and democratic control over major economic decisions. The document that best captured this vision was theFreedom Budget for All Americans: Budgeting Our Resources, 1966-1975,To Achieve Freedom from Wantpublished by the A. Philip Randolph Institute and endorsed by a virtual 'who's who' of U.S. left liberalism and radicalism.Now, two of today's leading socialist thinkers return to the Freedom Budget and its program for economic justice. Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates explain the origins of the Freedom Budget, how it sought to achieve freedom from want for all people, and how it might be reimagined for our current moment. Combining historical perspective with clear-sighted economic proposals, the authors make a concrete case for reviving the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement and building the society of economic security and democratic control envisioned by the movement's leaders - a struggle that continues to this day.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-363-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 7-8)
    PAUL Le BLANC and MICHAEL D. YATES
  4. 1. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 9-20)

    Inseparable from the goals projected by the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,A Freedom Budget for All Americanswas advanced in 1966 by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Martin Luther King Jr., central leaders of the activist wing of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s. It promised the full and final triumph of the civil rights movement. This was to be achieved by going beyond civil rights, linking the goal of racial justice for African Americans with the goal of economic justice for all Americans. If implemented, it would have fundamentally changed...

  5. 2. THE BATTLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS
    (pp. 21-52)

    The freedom budget arose organically out of the activist wing of the civil rights movement: activists associated with black trade union leader A. Philip Randolph and those involved in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Often glossed over, however, is that these men and women were influenced by conscious and organized forces that favored a socially owned and democratically controlled economy, one in which production would be for the benefi t of all—in a word, socialism.¹

    In this chapter a survey of the broader historical trends...

  6. 3. FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM
    (pp. 53-88)

    The year 1963 is generally seen as a high-water mark for the civil rights movement, the year of the great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which drew at least 250,000 (some insist the number was twice that many) to march for civil rights. But the march was for more than civil rights—as was highlighted not only by the official title of the event, but also by a significant and important conference, organized by the Socialist Party, taking place on the heels of the march. In fact, the combined march and conference set the stage for the opening...

  7. 4. A FREEDOM BUDGET FOR ALL AMERICANS
    (pp. 89-126)

    In the first decades of the twenty-first century, there has been a sort of Bayard Rustin revival. He is a forgotten hero, a “lost prophet” being rediscovered by new generations who are fascinated, and in many cases inspired, by the amazing person he was. A beautifully made full-length documentary,Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin(2003), has won much deserved recognition and awards.¹ Yet, as one of Rustin’s close friends and comrades has pointed out, important parts of the story are missing.

    Velma Murphy Hill, the spouse of Norman Hill but a seasoned activist in her own right, stresses...

  8. 5. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE FREEDOM BUDGET
    (pp. 127-144)

    In this book we consider the Freedom Budget not simply historically, but as something that has relevance for our own time. In this chapter, we consider specifics of the Freedom Budget advanced in 1966, with reference to certain limitations and to its contemporary relevance. In chapter 9, we suggest ways in which it might be enhanced to become relevant to the specific circumstances we face in the early decades of the twenty-first century.

    The Freedom Budget was conceived and constructed in a straightforward manner. It operated on the principle that for the political freedoms demanded by the civil rights movement...

  9. 6. DEFEAT OF THE FREEDOM BUDGET
    (pp. 145-179)

    If the freedom budget had been successfully adopted and successfully implemented, the history of the United States and of the world would have been qualitatively different from the way things have turned out from the 1980s until now. Of course, conservative partisans of laissez-faire capitalism would argue that only bad things would have resulted, and they can certainly write reviews, articles, even books to explain why. But in our opinion, such people would have seemed at least as strange and marginal in our post–Freedom Budget world as they seemed to most Americans in the wake of Franklin Roosevelt’s New...

  10. 7. THE U.S. POLITICAL ECONOMY FROM THE FREEDOM BUDGET TO THE PRESENT
    (pp. 180-194)

    The freedom budget begins to do something that all serious activists and revolutionaries have a responsibility to do—envision, in specific terms, how oppressive problems of the capitalist here-and-now can be overcome. Read nearly fifty years after its completion, the Freedom Budget remains a powerful document, chastising a nation for denying economic justice to its poorest citizens and demonstrating with the cold, hard facts of the matter that there was no reason for this to be so. It is worth building on what those who developed the Freedom Budget did as we seek to address such things in our own...

  11. 8. POVERTY AND ITS ATTENDANT EVILS TODAY
    (pp. 195-221)

    Although the freedom budget was never implemented, some of what it proposed came to pass. As we noted in previous chapters, health care, housing, and public assistance for the poor were improved. Racial minorities won better access to schooling. Unemployment compensation and Social Security were made more generous. Environmental protection laws were enacted. However, the problems spelled out in it are still very much with us, and some new ones have appeared since the budget was proposed. In this chapter, we show the contemporary scope of poverty and its attendant evils and set the stage for the development of a...

  12. 9. TOWARD A NEW FREEDOM BUDGET
    (pp. 222-241)

    Our society today needs a Freedom Budget on the scale of what was proposed by A. Philip Randolph, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and their cothinkers almost half a century ago. However, it will now need to incorporate lessons learned from previous defeats, and at the same time adjust to new realities.

    The development of such a New Freedom Budget will need to embrace more than what we can achieve with this book. A broader consultation and consideration, reflecting the political and social forces that would be capable of making the New Freedom Budget a living reality, will need to...

  13. APPENDIX: A FREEDOM BUDGET FOR ALL AMERICANS A Summary
    (pp. 242-250)
  14. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 251-256)
  15. NOTES
    (pp. 257-298)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 299-303)