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

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

by Paul Le Blanc, Michael D. Yates
     
 

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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

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Overview

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 the Freedom Budget for All Americans: Budgeting Our Resources, 1966-1975, To Achieve Freedom from Want published 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“An excellent and long overdue chronicle of the Freedom Budget. Their attention to new and striking details results in a wondrous story told with compassion and clarity.”-Angela D. Dillard,author of Faith in the City: Preaching Radical Social Change in Detroit

“Shows that the political development and leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ella Baker, Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, and others, were inextricably bound up with socialist organizations and ideas. These heroes of American history were fighting for much more than ‘civil rights’—they were fighting to fundamentally change American social and economic life.”-Brian Jones,educator, actor, and activist

“In this book, Paul Le Blanc and Michael D. Yates rescue the ‘Freedom Budget’ proposed by civil rights leaders in the 1960s from an unjustified historical obscurity. And they rightly see in the Freedom Budget a model of the kind of program that could unite American progressives and help restore national prosperity and democracy in the age of Occupy.”
-Maurice Isserman,author of The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington

“A dazzling gem of socialist scholarship! Le Blanc and Yates conjoin meticulous research with sensitive analysis to deliver a superb political narrative graphically recreating a significant slice of lost history.”-Alan Wald,H. Chandler Davis Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan

“Exciting and unique, especially for students, activists, and scholars. An important challenge to the neoliberal agenda.”-Immanuel Ness,Editor, WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society

Library Journal
09/15/2013
Le Blanc (history, La Roche Coll.; Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience) and Yates (assoc. editor, Monthly Review; Why Unions Matter) stress that the American civil rights struggle was part of a broader fight for economic justice. Socialist intellectuals (e.g., Bayard Rustin) and radical labor leaders (e.g., A. Philip Randolph) were trusted advisers and allies of Martin Luther King Jr. Their social-democratic economic ideas were embodied in the "Freedom Budget," a 1965 document that called for the elimination of poverty by 1976 through programs to create full employment, eliminate slums, and ensure a minimum standard of living for all. Le Blanc and Yates contend that President Johnson's Great Society and War on Poverty were merely Band-Aids applied to systemic economic racism and oppression; furthermore, the authors remind us, the programs were neglected when Johnson instead turned his attention to the expansion of the war in Vietnam. The book ends with a proposed updated version of the Freedom Budget; the budget includes federal programs for full employment, a restructuring of education and job-training systems, and more. VERDICT Readers may disagree with the socialist and progressive views that underlie the book, but it is invaluable for restating the influence of the American left on King's views and enriching the historical record.—Duncan Stewart, Univ. of Iowa Libs., Iowa City

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781583673607
Publisher:
Monthly Review Press
Publication date:
08/01/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
778,883
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Paul Le Blanc is Professor of History at La Roche
College and the author of many titles, including From
Marx to Gramsci
and Marx, Lenin and the Revolutionary
Experience
.

Michael D. Yates is Associate Editor of Monthly
Review
and the author of Why Unions Matter and The
ABCs of the Economic Crisis
(with Fred Magdoff).

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