The Freedom Charter
The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress and its allies the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People's Congress. It is characterized by its opening demand; The People Shall Govern!
In 1955, the ANC sent out fifty thousand volunteers countrywide to collect 'freedom demands' from the people of South Africa. This system was designed to give all South Africans equal rights. Demands such as "Land to be given to all landless people", "Living wages and shorter hours of work", "Free and compulsory education, irrespective of colour, race or nationality" were synthesized into the final document by ANC leaders including Z.K. Mathews and Lionel 'Rusty' Bernstein.
The Charter was officially adopted on June 26, 1955 at a Congress of the People in Kliptown. The meeting was attended by roughly three thousand delegates but was broken up by police on the second day, although by then the charter had been read in full. The crowd had shouted its approval of each section with cries of 'Afrika!' and 'Mayibuye!'
The document is notable for its demand for and commitment to a non-racial South Africa, this remains the platform of the ANC. The charter also calls for democracy and human rights, land reform, labour rights, and nationalization. After the congress was denounced as treason by the South African government. The ANC was banned and 156 activists were arrested, including Nelson Mandela who was first imprisoned in 1962. However, the charter continued to circulate in the underground and inspired a generations of young militants.
On February 11 1990, Nelson Mandela was finally freed and the ANC came to power after the first democratic elections were held in South Africa in April 1994. The new Constitution of South Africa included in its text many of the demands called for in the Freedom Charter. Nearly all the enumerated concerns regarding equality of race and language were directly addressed in the constitution, although the document included nothing to the effect of the nationalization of industry or redistribution of land, both of which were specifically outlined in the charter.
A Freedom Budget for All Americans
While the Civil Rights Movement is remembered for efforts to end segregation and secure the rights of African Americans, the larger economic vision that animated much of the movement is often overlooked today. That vision sought economic justice for every person in the United States, regardless of race. It favored production for social use instead of profit; social ownership; and democratic control over major economic decisions. The document that best captured this vision was the Freedom Budget for All Americans: Budgeting Our Resources, 1966-1975, To Achieve Freedom from Want published by the A. Philip Randolph Institute and endorsed by a virtual ‘who’s who’ of U.S. left liberalism and radicalism.
The Jackson Plan
The Jackson Plan is an initiative to apply many of the best practices in the promotion of participatory democracy, solidarity economy, and sustainable development and combine them with progressive community organizing and electoral politics. The objectives of the Jackson Plan are to deepen democracy in Mississippi and to build a vibrant, people centered solidarity economy in Jackson and throughout the state of Mississippi that empowers Black and other oppressed peoples in the state. The Jackson Plan has many local, national and international antecedents, but it is fundamentally the brainchild of the Jackson People’s Assembly.
The Beautiful Solutions Gallery and Lab is an interactive space for sharing the stories, solutions and big ideas needed to build new institutional power and point the way toward a just, resilient, and democratic future.
Developed by Beautiful Solutions in partnership with This Changes Everything, this is an open-ended project that will continue to evolve based on the ideas you submit to the Lab, and the ongoing contributions of the thinkers and practitioners on the forefront of building alternatives.