Reconstructing L.A. and U.S. Cities from the Bottom Up
We are excited to invite you to support Strategy and Soul— the next chapter in the work of the Labor/Community Strategy Center.
In 1989 the Strategy Center was born out of the Labor/Community Campaign to Keep GM Van Nuys Open—a successful alliance of the Black and Latino communities and a militant U.A.W. local to keep the last industrial plant in Los Angeles open. Strategy Center director Eric Mann worked 10 years in auto factories to fight “the De-industrialization of America” that led to the closing of the G.M. Southgate, Goodyear and Firestone tire factories, and U.S. Steel in South L.A. The Campaign, with the threat of a boycott of GM cars in the largest new car market in the U.S., forced GM to keep the plant open for a full decade after it first threatened to close it—keeping 5,000 workers employed.
In 1991 the Strategy Center published Dr. Cynthia Hamilton’s prescient essay, Apartheid in an American City: The Case of the Black Community
“For most of the residents of South Central the movement is circular, cyclical, and to nowhere. South Central is inevitably slated by the historical process to be replaced without a trace: cleared land ready for the development of a more prosperous—and probably whiter—class of people. For the larger malady affecting South Central is that the land is valuable and the present tenants are not.”
In 1992 the Strategy Center and its director Eric Mann, along with Anthony Thigpenn, Robin Cannon, and Charlotte Bullock published Reconstructing Los Angeles—and U.S. Cities—From the Bottom Up. We responded to the despair, anger, and militancy of the people after the acquittal of the LAPD in the Rodney King police brutality case with the demand for “The Social Welfare State not the Police State.” We raise that demand again today with even greater urgency.
We are part of a movement to rebuild, reconstruct, and re-volutionize South L.A. and U.S. cities in the face of U.S. capitalism’s decline—reflected in corporate and police brutality and ecological devastation. We have built a new Movement Institution—Strategy and Soul—a complex of 3 contiguous storefronts at the corner of King and Crenshaw—an historic landmark in South L.A. and the Black Community.
The first space is The Strategy and Soul Theater—with state-of-the art Digital Cinema Package that can show first-run films with THX and Dolby Sound. We want to highlight “Political Films for Movement Organizers”—The Battle of Algiers, Chinatown, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Fruitvale Station, Norma Rae, Black Power Mixtape, Beasts of the Southern Wild, What Happened, Miss Simone?, and Bus Riders Union. We will also provide a large performance space for poets, actors and community theater groups and a Strategy and Soul Art Gallery.
Next door is the Strategy and Soul Bookstore and Organizers Library. We will focus on our own list of The 100 Most Important Books for Movement Building and Revolutionary Change—The Wretched of the Earth, Open Veins of Latin America, Hands on the Freedom Plow: Women in SNCC, Goodnight Moon, The Sixth Extinction, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, and The Seven Components of Transformative Organizing Theory. We will also support the work of Eso Won Books, the great Black bookstore in Leimert Park.
Next door, on the corner site of a former beauty salon, is the Strategy and Soul Transformative Organizing Center. There, students from Augustus Hawkins and Roosevelt High School, community colleges, bus riders, and Black and Latino working people can build Agit/Props for marches and rallies and rehearse for our Drum and Chant Corps. It will be a community storefront and the site of our Fight for the Soul of the Cities monthly membership meetings.
We hope would consider supporting Strategy and Soul through a Financial Contribution.
“‘Cause you can’t make history without a strategy and you can’t win without some soul.”
Eric Mann, director
Barbara Lott-Holland, associate director
Manuel Criollo, director of organizing
Ashley Franklin, lead organizer
Channing Martinez, e-organizer