The Cooperative August 2017

Dynamite Hill, A Living History

By Reggie Bolton

Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust ( DH-SCLT) is probably familiar to many of you. But I am new to this group so please view this article as "notes from an explorer" rather than an exhaustive display of information.

Dynamite Hill is a small community in East Thomas on a hill overlooking Birmingham from northwest of the 20/59 interstate junction. I somehow managed to grow up in Birmingham without ever hearing about the history of this place.The land here was originally developed for workers in the growing iron and steel industry. Center street divided west from east, white from black. But after WWII whites began to move out. And as blacks "crossed the line" trouble with white racists grew. From that time through the mid sixties dozens of bombs were set off in the neighborhood, most likely by klan members. Think about how terrifying that must have been. People's houses were blown up with dynamite. I personally got a small taste of what this must have felt like.When I was about three years old my parents lived in a west end apartment. There was a power company strike that turned nasty. In the wee hours one morning the power pole at the street in front of our apartment was dynamited. I dreamed a giant owl swept down and flew off with me. It was my father picking me up out of my crib to carry me down the hall to cower in my parents' bedroom. To this day I clearly remember the sound and feel of the intense detonation followed by fright and confusion. The black community of Birmingham experienced this many times. Neighborhood watch for them involved sitting in the front room with a shotgun looking out for Klan raids.

The Smithfield Community, now across I-20 from Dynamite Hill, was the nexus of black activism during the height of the civil rights struggle. Among the many brave acts of resistance was the "children's crusade". The efforts of the adults seemed to be achieving very little effect so one day a large number of students from Parker High School basically sneaked out the windows and marched downtown to fill up Bull Connor's jail. I would love to hear some firsthand accounts of this event and of the bombing survivors.

So, here we are over fifty years after the church bombing of 1963 with a majority black population in the city and a large black representation in city government and the black community is still facing most of the same problems it had back then. That's where the DH-SCLT comes in. Cooperative ownership of residential property and businesses can give citizens direct control of their economic environment. And cooperative agriculture and aquaculture can give them control of their food supply. This is a completely rational response to a government and a corporate economy that refuses or is incapable of fulfilling its function for the people. Magic City Rising supports DH-SCLT along with other cooperative enterprises as a new model for an economic structure based on fulfilling the actual needs of the people,as opposed to an exclusively profit producing mechanism. We believe that with economic empowerment will come social and spiritual empowerment.

To help raise money to support this effort we are planning a benefit event for Tuesday, September 12. This will feature spoken word and musical performances by local artists.A donation of $10 per person is requested but if that is a hardship we welcome whatever you can contribute of money or talent. After minimal basic expenses are covered all proceeds will go to Magic City Rising. DH-SCLT will receive a healthy share to augment a generous contribution that has been made by the local Sierra Club chapter. Look for announcements with further details.

A Strategy for Countering White Supremacists

By Zac Henson

The Charlottesville Riots struck home with me. The organizers are using a clear Leninist vanguard strategy to muscle in a white supremacist state. A vanguard is a group of intellectuals who lead the charge of a revolution and there is ample evidence, including Steve Bannon’s own words, to support this argument.

So how do we counter it?

In some ways, we need to just keep doing what we’re doing, and by that, I mean using political processes to seize control of the cities in which we live. A multi-racial, multi-tactic approach that includes housing, agriculture, cooperative business development, running political campaigns, and trying to affect political processes like Majadi Baruti is doing with the gentrification task force all must be part of the strategy. Controlling cities gives us a territorial basis of safety that will allow folks to survive the rising white supremacist threat.

But, we must not adopt a siege mentality or long run we will be waited out or our supplies will run out.

The aggressive part of this strategy is to go to rural areas and organize the white working class there. This is white supremacists turf and white working class Southerners, or rednecks, are the target of white supremacist recruiting even though it’s led by an intellectual elite.

Every redneck that we get on our side is one less on the white supremacist side and all progressive organizations must begin developing programming specifically targeted at the white working class.

This is no longer a theoretical discussion about whether rednecks can be organized or not. It is now imperative that they be organized to counter the white supremacist threat.

Finally, by bringing the fight to white supremacists, we keep them out of cities, further protecting cities.

I believe that this is a gravely serious threat and we will either fight them now or fight them later, possibly in very unfavorable conditions. Let’s move intentionally and deliberately to counter this threat.


August 26, 2017
Cooperatives and Community Land Trusts (Webinar)
11 am - 1 pm

August 27, 2017
8 am - 12 pm
Work Day at Dynamite Hill-Smithfield Community Land Trust
10 11th Court North

Magic City Rising Open Mic Fundraiser
September 12, 2017
Desert Island Supply Company
Doors: 6:30
Suggested donation: $10