One year ago, on Saturday, May 25th, 2013, the Hampton Institute was launched with hopes of contributing to the broad movement for social and economic justice by creating a platform for working class folk to comment, analyze and theorize on important (and sometimes complex) matters.
Our founding members, realizing the need for a rebirth (or birth, depending on how you look at it) of working-class-rooted analysis, came together with a humble goal of fitting into a movement that has been courageously prodded along by grizzled stalwarts of activism, a host of alternative media hubs, and a newly-emerging resistance stemming from Occupy Wall Street.
Fueled by a network of supporters, contributors, readers and allies, we have been able to reach over two million people in more than two-dozen countries over the course of a year. Our “A Different Lens” podcast has allowed us to conduct and broadcast audio interviews, and our publishing wing (Hampton Institute Press) successfully released its first title, “Egypt’s Past and Potential: Nationalism, Neoliberalism, and Revolution,” in January.
We have been honored to establish relationships with numerous organizations, activists, media outlets, and blogs. Special thanks go out to the folks at Z Communications/Magazine, Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Dissident Voice, Alternet, Common Dreams, Boiling Frogs Post, Occupy.com’s Global Power Project, Foreign Policy Journal, Popular Resistance, and Hybrid Pedagogy – in addition to countless readers and blogs – for sharing our work with your respective circles and readerships.
A heartfelt ‘thank you’ goes out to those who have found our mission and work worthy of a donation, and to numerous contributors who have used our platform to discuss everything from the prison industrial complex and inherently racist criminal justice system, to the oppressive and privileged nature of our education system, to the social dynamics of Cuban society. And thanks are due to Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin (founder of the Black Autonomy Federation), Stephanie McMillan (author and illustrator of “Capitalism Must Die”), and geopolitical analyst, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, for their willingness to participate in our podcast.
As we enter our second year, we look to not only maintain a safe space for working-class analysis, but to try and bridge this analysis with working-class consciousness and direct action. However, we can’t do this alone. We need you. In order for the Hampton Institute to serve its purpose, we need working-class folk to use it, to take ownership of its platform, and to construct this bridge collectively.
Whether you are unemployed, working part-time, working full-time, juggling multiple jobs, relying on temporary and seasonal work, making minimum wage, or earning a salary, you are likely in the same boat as most others. If you are a person of color, a woman, an immigrant, or a member of the LGBTQ community, your struggle is compounded even more by the strains of class division. We need to hear from you.
If you find yourself questioning things during your daily grind, wondering why you can’t make ends meet despite working more and more, doubting talking heads on the news and politicians on the stump, and feeling like you have been set up for failure, you are not alone. In fact, you are a part of the large majority – the working class. And you HAVE been set up for failure. But in what ways? How? Why? And what can be done about it? These are questions we need to ask and answer together. And these answers need solutions. Most importantly, these are *working-class problems* that need *working-class solutions* developed and carried out by *working-class people*, collectively.
Through countless decades, wealthy politicians (whether claiming a ‘D’ or ‘R’) and so-called “community leaders” have come and gone, only to fatten their own pockets and leave us wondering why nothing changes. It’s time we come together, become bold enough to contemplate deeper issues that we’ve been told are none of our business, and develop our own solutions.
In doing so, we urge you to connect with others. Start conversations. Explore alternative news sources and history books. Delve into some classic texts and theory. Use our platform. Submit something to be published. Contact a chairperson. Start a conversation. Reach out for solidarity. Propose a project or direct action initiative. In other words, take ownership of *your* think tank – the people’s think tank. We’re waiting with open arms.