Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen FordACORN in NOLA
The armory of the Left, such as it was, has been greatly diminished with the demise of ACORN, the nationwide grassroots organization. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, “with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations.”

R.I.P ACORN: The Revolution Will Not Be Subsidized
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
There no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government.”
The loss of the grassroots social change organization ACORN is a huge setback to the cause of economic and racial justice in the United States. Born in the Seventies from roots in civil rights, welfare rights and workers rights organizing, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now once boasted membership of 400,000 families in chapters across the country.
This week ACORN, or what was left of it, announced that it would fully dissolve itself by April 1. Most of the group’s 20 chapters had already disbanded, in order to reorganize under different names. New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change. California ACORN now goes by, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment. And ACORN Housing became Housing Centers of America. Some ACORN activists say they are not disbanding, but simply re-branding.
No matter what it's called, the demise of the national operation is as complete as it was sudden. ACORN was brought low by what began as a political sting operation in which two right-wing operatives posing as a pimp and a prostitute tricked local ACORN staffers into appearing to give advice on hiding ill-gotten income. Republicans seized on the footage, and previous problems with the organization’s voter registration activities, to nail ACORN to the cross. Congress was easily stampeded into passing a bill to withdraw all federal funding to ACORN affiliates that assisted low-income Americans on housing and other matters – work that had earned ACORN $54 million over the years.
The legislation was, in fact, an unconstitutional “bill of attainder” – that is, special legislation designed specifically to harm a political opponent. A federal judge agreed, and issued an injunction prohibiting Congress from cutting off ACORN funds, now or in the future. But the damage was done. A cascade of private contributors withdrew their support, sending ACORN into a death spiral.
ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood.”
Now, with Black and progressive forces at their weakest state in at least two generations, there no longer exists a mass grassroots organization with the numerical forces or political will to directly confront rampaging capital and its servants in government. ACORN has passed into the realm of nostalgia.
For decades, ACORN was the rock on which resistance to predatory lending stood. No organization came close to ACORN in documenting and organizing against financial sector housing policies that finally came crashing down on minority neighborhoods nationwide, destroying generations of Black wealth. In recent years, it fought an ultimately unsuccessful battle for a living wage in New Orleans, the poorest big city in the United States, and provided the troops for a momentous fight against Wal-Mart in Chicago. ACORN, it seemed, was everywhere in the struggle.
And now it's gone. There are many lessons to be learned from the practice of an organization that has been at the forefront of struggle for 40 years. One is, don't depend on Democratic politicians in a pinch. They are mostly worthless. And two, don't build your house on federal funding, because the revolution will definitely not be subsidized.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100324_gf_ACORN.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 6:18am EDT