Empowerment From The Grassroots
THE FOUR STRATEGIES
There are four
fundamental strategies available to neighborhood groups to address community problems: They are community organizing, advocacy,
service delivery or development. ACDNAC must choose community organizing and development. Here’s
community organizing is characterized by educating and encouraging Black people to become corporate owners. Staff
roles are limited to helping members become effective, guiding the learning of leaders through the organizational process
and to helping create the mechanism by which ACDNAC can effectively advocate the economic empowerment of the
Black community. ACDNAC’s organizing strategies also include meeting with decision makers.
2. Advocacy and 3. Service Delivery are both characterized by doing FOR people. Often professionals like lawyers
or social workers will attack a problem on behalf of those perceived as unable to speak for themselves; such as job referral
services, social work, training for job readiness, or homeownership counseling. These are methods which fit into the Advocacy
or Service Delivery strategy will not empower the Black community economically..
is a strategy that gets ACDNAC directly into the business of delivering a physical product; i.e., a New Age Corporation.
A development strategy is necessary because the normal course of events will not create a community based and owned New
Age Corporation. Development methods require skills. Once we understand the difference between the strategies, we can
plot the most effective course and methods to achieve our objectives.
IS ACDNAC’S COMMUNITY ORGANIZING?
community organizing is the process by which genuine economic empowerment can be established in the Black community by encouraging
Black people to fund, own and operate class “C” corporate enterprises that have the financial capacity to solve
problems that they desire. This involves identifying the people and structures that can make these solutions possible and
enlisting the support of influential people, if necessary, to help build corporate structures that are democratically controlled
by Black people, but operate as republics. This allows all voices to be heard so we can develop the capacity to take on additional
problems that are vested in the will and the power of the Black community as a collective and as an ethnicity.
ACDNAC Organizers Help Organize New Age Corporations
ACDNAC’s community organizing strategy is not a technique for problem solving. Therefore, those
who participate must see concrete and measurable benefits and/or results. ACDNAC’s leadership cannot be content with holding endless meetings or discussions that never lead to action or the creation
of a fully funded New Age Corporation. People want to see results. That's why
they get involved. There is a theory that says; “folks join up if two things are true. First, they must see a potential for benefit if they succeed or harm to themselves if they fail. Second, they must see that their personal involvement has an impact on the whole effort. If personal involvement
is not critical – the average individual will stay home and watch TV.
When it comes to economic empowerment, owning and controlling capital assets to secure power, wealth and influence
via corporate enterprises, failure is not an option. The science of community organizing
has been applied all over the world in situations as disparate as Solidarity in Poland, Welfare Rights in the US and Black
Lives Matter. The simple principles of community organizing are being applied right now in every Hispanic community and in
the ghettoes of Baltimore. The Hispanics are winning he economic empowerment game, while and Black people are losing, just
like we have lost to everyone else.
The Principles of ACDNAC’S Community Organizing
What is the essence of the science of power, applied through the art of community organizing?
are motivated by their self interest. This is important to motivating involvement from the community that's being organized.
Many people are uncomfortable with self interest. They'd rather focus on values or on mutual aid as the highest virtue. All
these may be true, unfortunately, they will not create “C” class corporations that can amass billions of dollars.
Black people might hope Whites, Asians and others could somehow be changed into angels, however, when it comes to looking
out for your own first, Black people will always be left out of the equation. Human nature has failed the angel test for thousands
community organizing efforts will develop a broader sense of self interest - this is where hope comes in to the picture. How
can ACDNAC broaden the sense of self interest? By initiating a process that builds up the Black community. Black people
are taught everyday in countless little ways that the system is not going to change, no matter what they do. We learn to stand
in line and throw up our hands. Black people see politicians betray promises daily, with very little regard for the faith
that Black voters placed in them before the election.
see the rich get richer and the powerful escaping the consequences of wrongdoing. In all these ways; and more, Black people
have become narcotized, desensitized, demoralized, petrified with fear and really believe there is nothing we can do that
will change the way things are. Therefore, out of simple self preservation, the vast majority of Black people have lowered
their expectations and have sunk into a worldview of utter defeat. In short, regardless of the income, status or prestige
received, the overwhelming majority of Black people have become a cowardly and ineffective ethnic group that is gripped with
fear and have incarcerated, limited, neutralized and victimized themselves with their own mindsets.
community organizing seeks to teach Black people, through experience, that they can be effective in a larger and larger sphere
that begins with their own block, their own neighborhood, their city, their state, and so on. In the process, ACDNAC
redefines the idea and concept of self and self interest to include the Black community anywhere we exist in the world.
community organizing is a dynamic process that requires constant attention and effort. The bottom line is, ACDNAC will
not stop until Black people have empowered themselves economically all over the world. We realize it is a mistake to use community
organizing just to get to a certain point and stop. It is also a mistake to build a community organization up and then stop
reaching out for new people. We have already seen the dynamic aspect organizing at Unity International Company, Inc. (UICI).
Some people; like George Sistrunk and Elizabeth Jackson, want to take on a major acquisition project like a manufacturing
plant for an indoor market, while others want to acquire smaller objectives.
responsibilities are promotion, education, coordination, facilitation and to encourage the process of community based
creation. Once Orangeburg’s only New Age Corporation (UICI) is established, the corporation’s destiny;
individually and/or collectively, will be controlled by the Standing Committee, the Board of Directors and the owners/shareholders.
When these realities are considered, ACDNAC’s community organizing can be considered as a process that teaches
Black people how to work together and to effectively achieve a common goal; such as funding, owning and operating a class
it is important at an early stage for ACDNAC’s leaders to learn how to deal with conflict and confrontation.
The Management Committee, Membership Committee, Members and Directors will eventually have to deal with both. Conflict and
confrontation have already created ill feelings. This could have been avoided. Every social, economic and political problem
can be solved by people of good will once they understand the cause of the problem.
majority of humanity’s problems are deeply rooted in greed and power. This essentially means there are many people;
Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish and others that are benefitting from the status quo or the Black community’s current
dependent and poverty stricken condition and position. If ACDNAC is going to succeed, the status quo will have to change.
The potential losers are not likely to lay down and roll over because of the righteousness of our cause. If a group has never
stood strong before, far more likely than not, they will back down or give up when or if the going gets tough. We must never
forget, huge numbers of Black people are basically cowards; especially an overwhelming majority of Black males.
specific goal and purpose is the economic empowerment of the Black community. Black people, the world over, should want to
achieve this objective. However, there are many Black people that are comfortable being suppressed, oppressed, tyrannized
and poverty stricken. Many more are comfortable being lap dogs that are looking forward to the next pat on the head and there
are some others that are enjoying their position and perceived status in White, Asian, Jewish or Hispanic society Because
of these realities, there is a tangled web of problems - complaints, bad situations, irritations, oppressions, difficulties,
injustices, crises and messes that exist in the Black community at home and abroad.
organizers, ACDNAC’s leadership must consider factors other groups do not. This includes, but is not limited
to: How hard are Black people willing to fight for economic empowerment? What resources will ACDNAC need? Can we get
them? On the other side, who is benefitting from the problem the way things are? Can they facilitate Black economic empowerment
or would it cost them, and if so, how much? Who else is peripherally hurt - or helped - by the way things are? How would economic
empowerment change this equation? In the end, all we can do is step out. The more we look ahead, the less likely we will stumble
on the way to our objective.
THE SEVEN RULES
OF ACDNAC’S COMMUNITY ORGANIZING STRATEGY
is going to come to a meeting unless they have a reason to come to a meeting.
is going to come to a meeting unless they know about it.
3. If ACDNAC
doesn't grow, it will die.
can be a leader.
5. The most
important victory is ACDNAC itself.
6. If Black
people are not fighting for what they want, they don't want it enough.
every new owner/shareholder in a New Age Corporation.
The first rule: Nobody's going to come to the meeting unless they've got a reason to come to the meeting. Giving folks a REASON to attend means two things. First, interpreting the issue as it
related to them. This means developing a script that sells economic empowerment simply and
personally. This is necessary. Unlike other ethnic groups, Black people are surviving individually, not collectively. Therefore,
even if economic empowerment has been thought through, if it is not told and
sold simply and quickly; and in an exciting way, the vast majority will not respond. ACDNAC organizers have to answer the question 'what's in it for me?' As difficult as this is to believe, we must GIVE Black
people the reason why economic empowerment is in all of our best interest. This must be thought through in the planning stage.
Considering the deplorable condition of the mindset of millions of Black people, economic empowerment must be communicated
effectively. A planning group must grapple with this problem when they're designing and writing everything from a community
flyer, to a press release or to a public service announcement
rule is: Nobody's going to come unless they know about it. Therefore every neighborhood should have a block captain. Finding
block captains is the responsibility of the Membership Committee. Currently, we are relying on a regular meeting night. The
Membership Committee should also establish a telephone tree to get people out. All ACDNAC meetings should be opened
to members of the Black community.
When it comes
to community organizing, there is an almost unbreakable ratio - for every one hundred folks who get a timely, well crafted
written notice and a follow-up personal contact by phone or in person, ten will come out. No personal contact reduces this
number even further. Working in the Black community the way it is now, is hard work, and there are few shortcuts worth taking.
We must plant seeds with effective outreach in order to build and fund New Age Corporations that will economically
empower the Black community.
rule is: if ACDNAC doesn't grow, it will die. A good outreach effort will not only bring new members, it will also bring
new owners/shareholders for New Age Corporations. New ACDNAC members must be put to work. Somebody has to recognize
their effort in coming out, and talk to them, welcome them, give them a chance to get into things. For example: Could they
do calls for the next meeting? Would they like to help with posters for the fundraiser? Each meeting should bring in new folks,
and there should always be a fundraising event on the horizon. People naturally fade in and out of involvement as their own
life rhythms dictate. People move, get involved with something else, lose jobs, lose health, have personal issues or problems
and the list goes on. If there are no new people coming in, shrinkage can be fatal. Continuous outreach is the only protection
against this natural process of shrinkage.
anyone can be a leader. Almost without exception, the best leaders are people who rise to the occasion. Considering this
undeniable fact, anybody can be a leader. ACDNAC gives a lot of people a lot of opportunities to practice, try it out
and learn by doing. A large group of people who can lead is built by constantly bringing new people into leadership roles
and sup-porting them while they learn from this experience.
The most important victory is ACDNAC itself. This starts a series of rules about winning. Winning is what organizing is
about. Winning without building is a hollow process. We need to celebrate the simple fact of survival, given the odds most
groups face. The way to ensure ACDNAC’s long term survival is to create a structure that governs the group and
brings in people that believe in Black economic empowerment. ACDNAC’s leadership should always invite people
from the community to discuss priorities and community strategies. Even if they choose to say no, the opportunity to participate
in setting ACDNAC’s course of action makes it more their own. A group that is governed by one set of folks and
involves a whole different set as beneficiaries or members is never going to be a real people's organization. No economic
empowerment has ever come or will ever come from well meaning people just helping the helpless. Without a system and structure
that will empower them to help themselves, the helpless will remain helpless.
Rule Six -
If Black people are not FIGHTING for what they want, they don't want it enough. The tragedy is this. Black people have
never defined their purpose for being in America and have never established an Agenda for staying and living in America. This
is why, we collectively have never achieved any accomplishments from the 18th-20th centuries and have
never experienced genuine economic empowerment as an ethnic group.
- celebrate! Building New Age Corporations will not only change the status quo, it will also change Black people’s
psychological image of themselves as ethnic failures. Hence, every new owner/shareholder of a New Age Corporation is
reason to celebrate. Through ACDNAC’s efforts, hundreds of New Age Corporations can be established all
over the world that are funded, owned and controlled by Black people.
ACDNAC'S ACTION STRATEGY
Real community organizing is an educational process of action and reflection that puts Black people in the power game
as players. Planning should be a participatory process. The Directors and the Management Committee, with member participation,
should plan out the strategy and steps that will effectively empower the Black community.
Generally, the best plan is to find one or more persons that will take
action that will deliver what ACDNAC wants. This person(s) needs to be within reach. Since ACDNAC
is in Orangeburg, we should not build a plan around getting somebody from Columbia or Charleston to make a deci-sion, but
rather we should find a local individual(s) that can put pressure on Church, Organi-zation and other non-profit leaders to
take action. The more authority the person has, the more effective he/she will be.
In 1996, it was
Elder James Baxter. In developing a plan, as organizers, it is our job to design a campaign that will work, so if it isn't
working, we can figure out why, and fix the plan, and not blame the people. When considering all possible courses of action,
ACDNAC’s action strategy is really very simple:
1. We need to find people that really care about the future of their children and/or
the Black community and get them to encourage the leaders of large groups (Someone like an Elder James Baxter – now
2. Place outreach flyers in the community prior
to every meeting.
3. Email information to the tech savvy (no spamming)
4. Post on social media outlets.
5. Adopt the Hispanic strategy.
6. Explore every conceivable funding method and means including grants.
7. Saturday campaigns to talk with people about the importance of economic empowerment.
8. Contact letter for churches to be read by the church secretary for ACDNAC meetings
9. Develop and utilize surveys.
10. Women empowerment
conferences with enrollers.
11. Greet &
Meet with enrollers.
with speakers and enrollers.
13. Youth Seminar
on Economic Empowerment.
15. Raffles off
Father Day & Mother Day Basket
16. Fashion shows.
17. Raffle off
ACDNAC’S African American
Women’s Group For Economic Empowerment
The most successful fundraising as well as growth strategy ACDNAC can implement is the African American
Women’s Group For Economic Empowerment. First, Black women are excellent
networkers. Second, Black women are
excellent organizers, Third, Black women are more aggressive than Black males.
Fourth, Black women still desire meaningful futures for their children. Fifth, Black women can establish networks with other Black women anywhere on the planet. Sixth, Black women are intelligent and are not as fearful of new ideas and concepts like Black men. Seventh, Black women are courageous leaders. Eighth, Black women are
creative fundraisers. Ninth, Black women know how to use what they got to get
what they want. Tenth, Black women are excellent financial managers when they
have to be.
the success of our efforts is a critical part of any ACDNAC campaign, fundraising or otherwise. As we
carry out our strategies and tactics, the Directors and Committees will assess and evaluate our efforts. ACDNAC’s
Directors, Committees and Members should answer the following three questions on a daily basis:
1. Is our strategy achieving the desired results?
2. What's working, what isn't?
3. Are actions moving the Black community to owning and
participating in New Age
of the strategy and its results will lead us to conclude that the reason why we have not met our goal is that the strategy
was not fully developed or the strategy and tactics used were correct but not sufficient in number or frequency. If our assessment
indicates that our strategy is not working, then we need to revise our approach or re-evaluate and change tactics. The bottom
line for assessing success is: Did our efforts create a fully funded and operational New
By: George M. Sistrunk - 3/08/16