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[This is a huge victory, Mountaintop Removal is a horrible destructive practice of coal mining in Appalachia that destroys communities and the environment. Organizers, including Rainforest Action Network and many members and chapters of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), have been fighting this for a long time through creative nonviolent actions and pressure, and today we can celebrate a major victory as Bank of America caves to our demands! – alex]

From Bank of America’s website:

“Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountain top removal in locations such as central Appalachia. We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal. While we acknowledge that surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs, it can be conducted in a way that minimizes environmental impacts in certain geographies.”

We are thrilled that just two and a half weeks after RAN’s day of action against coal and coal finance, Bank of America has made a public commitment to stop financing the devastating practice of mountaintop removal mining. This has been a major demand of the banks for the Global Finance campaign and we applaud Bank of America as it takes a step in the right direction – a step away from coal. Congratulations to everyone who has helped to pressure Bank of America to end it’s financing of coal and mountaintop removal – this is a truly incredible grassroots victory!

We will have more information about Bank of America’s announcement soon, as we work with our team and our allies to respond. For now, let’s celebrate!

Originally posted by Annie on Rainforest Action Network’s website.

“Defying Dixie: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights (1919-1950)”

by Glenda Gilmore

2008 W.W. Norton

I picked up this book randomly when I saw it in the library, and it turned out to be a worthwhile read. Gilmore, a white female professor from North Carolina, surveys the “radical roots of civil rights” through the efforts of the Communist Party in the South during the 1920s through 1940s.

Gilmore tells the story by focusing on a few individual black radicals who have been forgotten by history, especially Lovett Fort-Whiteman and Pauli Murray.

Whiteman, an extravagant early supporter of the Soviet Union, founded some of the first communist organizations for African Americans, before being scared out of the country by the feds, becoming a darling in the Soviet Union, then ultimately winding up in one of Stalin’s gulags in Siberia, where he worked/starved to death.

Murray had more luck, despite being a transgendered black woman in the South in the 1940s.  With a bold attitude, she attempted to integrate various institutions, like the University of North Carolina Law program, and although she herself was not successful in these efforts, her example paved the way for future victories within the Black Freedom Movement.

We also learn quite a bit about Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, Max Yergan, and many other heroic characters who fought early and often for equality in the apartheid South.

More interesting to me though was what I learned about movement strategy, for example we explore how the first integrated unions in the South scared the bejesus out of the capitalists, or what it meant for the Communist Party to bring the country’s attention to the case of the Scottsboro “Boys”, or how the “Popular Front” strategy of allying with liberals succeeded, and failed.

The writing is interesting, but could be more purposeful.  Defying Dixie focuses probably too much on the Communists, and not on other radicals, but still this book really clarified for me important stuff like the Depression, the South in the 1930s, and the early Civil Rights Movement, and how once-radical ideas like social equality of the races is now accepted fact (even though still not fully realized).

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