1934 – Birth of Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social and political activist
“A movement is only composed of people moving. To feel its warmth and motion around us is the end as well as the means.”
2000 – Publication this month of article, “Corporate Social Responsibility: Kick the Habit” by Jane Anne Morris, POCLAD principal and corporate anthropologist
“While we huddled in coffeehouses and church basements debating strategy, corporate managers plotted in boardrooms. Their diagnosis unfolded into a plan. From their perspective, a Great Danger threatened: government action spurred by public demands. A tried-and-true strategy beckoned: make a show of voluntarily Doing Something and publicize it shamelessly.
“This was a strategy with a thousand faces: corporations as socially responsible, corporations as “citizens” with civic duties, corporations as “good neighbors,” corporate executives as “trustees” for the public interest, “business leaders” offering voluntary codes of conduct, and so on.
“There were three pillars to the corporate plan. (1) placate; (2) co-opt; (3) reframe issues so that in the future, people would “demand” something that corporate managers want to ‘give.’
“Corporate donations and other forms of “corporate social responsibility” pacified portions of the community by softening the edges of some of the most egregious and most visible corporate harms. In a quasi-behaviorist twist, they rewarded “good” behavior and disadvantaged “bad” behavior on the part of showcased community and charitable organizations. But most of all they enabled corporate managers to reshape public “questions” so that the “answers” were to come not from a self-governing people but from “corporate good citizens…
“The options were clear: either institute the three-point plan, or the country will succumb to…(I hope you’re sitting down)…a people’s democracy….we have another opportunity to firmly reject the “corporate social responsibility” ruse. A small but growing core of people is demanding not goodies or favors or good deeds but real self-governance. They know that receiving goodies from worried corporate managers is the real “dole,” while a self-governing people controlling their community’s resources in the interest of society as a whole — that is democracy.”
1790 — Naturalization Act passed by Congress
Immigrants are allowed to become citizens, but only if White. Without citizenship, non-whites cannot vote, own property, file lawsuits, or testify in court.
1929 – Birth of Ward Morehouse, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD)
“As men of property had wrapped the Constitution around themselves in 1787, men of the Gilded Age enlisted judges and legislators to wrap the nation’s sacred text around their new financial and industrial conglomerates. By the end of the 19th Century, corporations had been baptized in the contract, commerce, property and personhood pools the Revolutionary elite had dammed into the Constitution one hundred years before. ”
From the “Forward” by Richard Grossman and Ward, Co-founders, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy to “The Elite Consensus: When Corporations Wield the Constitution,” by George Draffan
1930 – Birth of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a Reagan appointee
Her comment following the Citizens United v FEC Supreme Court decision expanding the rights of individuals and corporate entities to make political campaign contributions: “Citizens United has signaled that the problem of campaign contributions in judicial elections might get considerably worse and quite soon.”
1990 – U.S. Supreme Court rules corporate spending in elections can be limited if compelling interest
The court ruled in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (494 U.S. 652) that a Michigan law prohibiting corporations from using their treasury funds for independent expenditures to oppose or support candidates in state elections did not violate the 1st or 14th Amendments. The case acknowledged the state’s compelling interest in responding to a “different type of corruption in the political arena: the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth that are accumulated with the help of the corporate form and that have little or no correlation to the public’s support for the corporation’s political ideas.” The 2010 Citizens United vs Federal Elections Commission Supreme Court decision overruled this decision.
2002 – Congress passes “McCain-Feingold” (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) – increases regulation of political campaign financing
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (better known as the McCain-Feingold Act after its chief sponsors) was passed by Congress to strengthen the regulations of political campaign financing. Its chief sponsors were Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ).
The Act addressed political “soft money” (by outlawing money raised or spent by national political party committees not subject to federal limits) and “issue advocacy ads” (by limiting broadcast ads as to when they can be aired and prohibiting funding for them from profit and nonprofit corporations and unions).
The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision overturned this law.
2018 — Published article, “OIL & GAS CORPORATION SUING ACTIVISTS IN PERSONAL CAPACITY”
“In an unprecedented and direct assault on First Amendment rights, Extraction Oil & Gas, the fracking corporation responsible for the massive Bella Wells extraction site–the largest fracking site next to a public school in the United States–filed suit on March 23, 2018 against Cullen Lobe in his personal capacity. Cullen Lobe is a Colorado State University student who participated in non-violent civil disobedience against Extraction Oil and Gas on March 9, 2018.
“This appears to be a first, where energy corporations are now using their massive resource advantage to sue citizens in order to repress organized dissent. The lawsuit will enable the corporation–setting precedent for all corporations–to use the discovery process to retrieve information about any person who has shown interest in challenging environmental exploitation, then use that information to sue those persons in their individual capacities. (The suit is styled John Does 1-20, which is legalese to use discovery to see who attended meetings, signed attendance lists, helped plan, made coffee, painted a sign, in order to add those people to the law suit.) If this corporation prevails in this action, the mere act of attending a meeting could expose a person to civil liability.”
1969 – Death of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
2015 – “What the BLEEP Happened to Hip Hop,” a two-day event in Detroit
Hip Hop Congress and Move to Amend partner to present: “What the Bleep Happened to Hip Hop?”, a multi-racial and intergenerational public education two-day event. It was part of a larger national campaign seeking to raise awareness of the dangerous power corporations currently wield over the hip hop industry specifically, and over the arts, culture and society in general.
1875 – U.S. Supreme Court rules that women don’t have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment in Minor v. Happersett (88 U.S. 162)
The Supreme Court rules that women do not have equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment. They had argued that their right to vote could not be denied by the state under the amendment The Court rejected the argument, stating that the 14th Amendment was only intended to apply to black males. Eleven years later, the Supreme Court awarded equal protection and due process rights to corporations. Women would not be granted the right to vote until 1920. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) barring discrimination based on sex passed Congress in 1972 but only 35 of the 38 states needed to ratify it did so, and it died in 1982.
1822 – Birth sometime this month of Harriet Tubman, “conductor” on the Underground Railroad
“I freed thousands of slaves; I could have freed more if they knew they were slaves.”
[Note: How many of us know we are enslaved by our mental box of reality that limits what what we think is possible or achievable.]
2016 – Statement on Supreme Court by Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law professor
“A popular conception of the Supreme Court is that it is designed to protect vulnerable minorities from majoritarian rule. Instead, the court of recent memory has enhanced a powerful minority at the expense of the majority. I believe we currently have a court for the one percent.”
Michele Gilman, University of Baltimore law prof, The Conversation, March 30, 2016
1776 — Abigail Adams tells John not to forget women in the new government
“I long to hear that you have declared an independency. And by the way, in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors.
“Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.
“If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.
“That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend.” “Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams” (1875), edited by Charles Francis Adams, p. 147
1927 – Birth of Cesar Chavez, American labor leader, civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW)
March 31st is César Chávez Day, a holiday observed in ten states. The holiday memorializes the life and work of this Mexican-American farmworker. His creative uses of nonviolent tactics helped create a solidarity movement to benefit the working conditions and lives of farmworkers, all workers and consumers. His most famous campaign was the nationwide boycott of table grapes.
1999 – Release date of the film “The Matrix”
“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?” — Morpheus to Neo
[Note: Morpheus could easily be asking the same question to all of us today in our politically and economically increasing top-down, corporate-controlled society
[Note: Morpheus could easily be asking the same question to all of us today in our politically and economically increasing top-down, corporate-controlled society that is destroying people, places and the planet.]