Rev. Kujenga Eliyah Ashe and K. Lanai Ashe.
Ashe is the executive director of Community Organization for Abundant Life (COAL) I asked him what he thought of the environmental movement.
"The Earth is being raped by multinational corporations. They're polluting the Earth. Instead of using the solar power and wind power that they could be using...they're using fossil fuels. They're doing that because there's so much profit in it."
Ashe said he and fellow activists are pushing for an economic rights movement.
"The civil rights movement which Dr. King led has done great things. We even have a president w/ brown skin. So his dream has come true in terms of civil rights. But Dr. King, before he was killed, was starting to push for economics. He was boycotting different corporations and was planning a poor people's march on Washington, just like up in Chicago. They still have the Poor People's Campaign headed by Jerry Robinson."
Ashe said an economic rights movement lends itself to being broadly inclusive.
"The Civil Rights Movement helped all people-- black, white, red, yellow, gays, women. Everybody piggybacked on the Civil Rights Movement. Now we have our civil rights. We can vote. We have the franchise and (Black) mayors, congresspeople, senators, and even the president of the United States...Now we need our economic rights."
Ashe said the first program of that economic rights movement is repatriation and reparations for all descendants of slavery.
"We want gold, silver, and land, not just from the federal government but also from the monopoly finance, capitalist, multinational corporations--the Wall Street Investment bankers. We want to have a march on Wall Street, July 4, 2012, to tie it up and to demand reparations for all the people. New York was built and Wall Street was built on the labor of slaves. They used to sell slaves on Wall Street. "
He said building a mass movement requires spirituality.
"We need something that will inspire people, that will get their hearts, not just their minds. We can't just get them to read the ABC of Communism by (Nikolai) Bukharin (and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky)...We got to reach people at their hearts, not (just) their heads. The Civil Rights Movement got people at their hearts. Dr. King got people at their hearts. All people, black, yellow, brown, and Native American came together. That's what we need now."
Unlike Kimberly Jackson Morris who suggested White middle class activists within the environmental movement reach out to churches in Black communities, Ashe--himself a minister--- said that's not the place to start.
"The churches are not really going to move until they see the progressive organizations moving. The churches are always the last ones on board. They're pretty much the gatekeepers of society. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to Columbus, Ohio back in 1964, he only preached at one church, Union Grove Baptist. All of the other churches wouldn't let him preach because he was talking about a movement and they were saying, 'oh, well, we're doing alright like it is.' So I wouldn't suggest anybody run to the churches right now. Go to the progressive organizations (within Black communities). Find the progressive people. We're on Facebook and we have websites."
In addition to that Ashe said:
" You got to then push the issues that help people of color...The welfare programs have been cut out by Governor Kasich here, by Governor Snyder in Michigan and Governor Walker in Wisconsin. You got to go to them (Black folk) and say 'we understand your issues, and your issues tie with our issues.' You got to go to the progressive organizations."