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Corporate Funding of Urban League, NAACP & Civil Rights Orgs Has Turned Into Corporate Leadership

August 11, 2011

(This article by Bruce Dixon is re-posted from Black Agenda Report)

“Not only is Bill Gates a cousin,” gushed academic Henry Louis Gates at the Urban League convention in Boston last week, “Bill Gates a brother.” Bill Gates, of course, is the founder of Microsoft, and one of the wealthiest men on earth. Invited to deliver the keynote address at the National Urban League’s annual meeting in Boston last week, the billionaire lectured the assembled on education and poverty, although Gates is not qualified to teach an hour in any classroom in the land, and has certainly never been poor.

Bill Gates has never been a friend of black people anyplace on earth. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a large investor in Monsanto, the company that invented genetic engineering, actually creates hunger on the African continent and undermines the food security of African nations by pushing genetically modified crops upon reluctant African farmers and their governments. If African farmers can be locked into planting patented crop varieties, instead of planting and saving their own seed as they have the last ten thousand years, they will be obliged to buy the expensive and environmentally destructive pesticides these frankenfood crops require, along with paying yearly license fees.

Inside the US, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been a key player in the drive to privatize public education. Gates Foundation staff helped write the guidelines for the Obama Administration’s Race To The Top program, under which states and school districts, in order to receive any federal education funds at all, had to hire consultants, often from the same Gates Foundation to write the detailed plans for closing thousands of neighborhood public schools, implementing high stakes testing and turning teachers into the cowed, insecure and casual WalMart style workforce preferred by private, often for profit charter school operators.

So how did the National Urban League become the mouthpiece and cheering section for corporate experiments on black school children at home and the hijacking of the global food system in Africa? The answer is that like the NAACP, the National Committee on Black Civic Participation, the National Council of LaRza, the National Conference of Black State Legislators and even the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the Urban League is now and has for some time past been completely dependent on corporate donations to keep going. Those that pay the bills, call the shots.

This is the new model of African American leadership – a leadership that covets, courts, kowtows and accomodates to power rather than speaking truth to it. This is why whenever the interests of ordinary black people conflict with those of corporate America, a great number of our well-funded black misleaders will inevitably side with their corporate sugar daddies rather than their constituents. It’s why the Congressional Black Caucus and Operation PUSH assisted in foisting subprime mortgages on countless black families, and why the NAACP speedily forgave the predatory loan practices Wells Fargo and Bank of America. It’s why Sharpton, the NAACP and the Urban League all endorsed the merger of AT&T with T-Mobile and Comcast’s swallowing of NBC.

It’s time to turn the page on the venerable civil rights organizations, whose model of corporate funding has allowed them to be utterly taken over by corporate interests and used against us at every opportunity. It’s time for something completely different.

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