A journal dedicated to truth, freedom of speech and radical spiritual consciousness. Our mission is the liberation of men and women from oppression, violence and abuse of any kind, interpersonal, political, religious, economic, psychosexual. We believe as Fidel Castro said, "The weapon of today is not guns but consciousness."
ATLANTA....On August 15, 2015, we in America witnessed
the passing of Julian Bond who was a beacon of light, a messenger and
worker for justice. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land
Assistance Fund (Federation) acknowledges in appreciation the breadth
and profound work, as well as advocacy, of Julian Bond throughout the
South in both urban and rural communities. In fact, throughout the
country it is acknowledged that Julian Bond articulated the vision and
need for change in America and then worked diligently to accomplish
precisely that - change.
But Bond stressed that he was
part of a "peoples" movement that worked
together to alter forever the American landscape. In 2005, in his
address to the 96th Annual Meeting of the NAACP, Bond quoted Martin
Luther King: "When the history books are written in the future,
somebody will have to say, 'there lived a race of people, a black
people' who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And
thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and
Bond said further that, "King
was the most famous and well known of the modern movement's
personalities, but it was a people's movement. It produced leaders of
its own; but it relied not on the noted but the nameless, not on the
famous but the faceless. It didn't wait for commands from afar to begin a
campaign against injustice. It saw wrong and acted against it; it saw
evil and brought it down" (NAACP).
of the focus of Bond's renowned contributions is largely, and
importantly, centered on his role in the founding of and leadership with
the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); and his
leadership in the NAACP, as well as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
at the Federation will add another important aspect to his long list of
achievements, however, and that was his advocacy and support of the
creation of economic independence of and by the Black community. Bond's
statement perfectly emulates that of the Black community in the rural
South, "It saw wrong and acted against it" and Bond was there to support these efforts.
By 1965, "SNCC
had built two independent political parties and organized labor unions
and agricultural cooperatives....Unlike mainstream civil rights groups,
which merely sought integration of blacks into the existing order, SNCC
sought structural changes in American society itself" (Monthly Review).
long after the creation of SNCC in the early 1960's, the Federation of
Southern Cooperatives was created in 1967 and, in fact, grew out of the
civil rights movement. As civil rights attorney J.L. Chestnut said, "There
were many organizations that were spawned by the blood that was spilled
on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965, and the Federation was one of
The Federation's mission is as follows:
strive toward the development of self-supporting communities with
programs that increase income and enhance other opportunities; and we
strive to assist in land retention and development, especially for
African Americans, but essentially for all family farmers.
do this with an active and democratic involvement in poor areas across
the South, through education and outreach strategies, which support
low-income people in molding their communities to become more humane and
We assist in the development of cooperatives and credit unions as a collective strategy to create economic self-sufficiency (Federation).
1971 Julian Bond spoke at Federation's 4th annual meeting at Mary
Holmes College in West Point, Mississippi. Charles Prejean, the first
Executive Director of the Federation, worked closely with Julian Bond,
during the initial years of the development of the Federation, from a
base in a small office in Atlanta to a regional organization spread
across the South. Prejean invited Bond, then a Georgia state legislator,
with a national following, to speak at this important meeting.
photo below is instructive regarding the Bond's mission and SNCC over
all, which included organizing work, of course, in rural Mississippi.
The photo above of civil rights and rural
development activists was taken in 1963; Julian Bond is the second one
on the left. This was 4 years before the founding of the Federation and 8
years before Bond spoke at the 1971 Federation meeting in Mississippi.
To the far left in the photo is Mississippi farmer and cooperative
leader E.W. Steptoe who was the creator of the "Miss-Lou Cooperative" in
the late 1960's and who was involved with the Federation after its
founding. Mr. Steptoe's family members are to this day supportive of and
engaged with the organization.
In the Federation's 25th Anniversary Annual Report, in 1992, is the following quote from Mr. Steptoe: "Our
cooperative is like the railroad station in our community. It will be
here, even if the trains don't come anymore and somebody far away
decides to pull up the track, we will still have our cooperative in our
community because we built it ourselves, no matter whatever else
Mr. Steptoe's message was echoed in much of Bond's
organizing narrative. In 1971, for example, Bond spoke at both the
Federation's annual meeting and at Tuskegee University emphasizing the "pressing issue of (Black's) controlling their ownlives".
1970's in Epes, Alabama:
Charles Prejean, Howard Moore,
Wendell Paris, George Howell
Julian Bond's leadership and advocacy was felt
throughout the South. His support of the work of the Federation was
on-going all these many years. He alsohelped lay the ground work for it
all in his messages and rallying for support for cooperative economic
development and economic independence.
connection to Julian Bond and his family was that the Federation's first
attorney was Howard Moore who is married to Julian's sister, Jane Bond
Moore. As we say, "the roots run deep."
Working together in all these various aspects and areas helped strengthen the movement for change and empowerment.
We are all eternally grateful for having had Julian Bond in our midst.
The Federation/LAF, now in its 49th year, assists Black family farmers
across the South with farm management, debt restructuring, alternative
crop suggestions, marketing expertise and a whole range of services to
ensure family farm survivability.