Jerome Scott, Jerome Scott, Founding Member of Project South, Co-Founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Veteran, and Father
SPARK concludes our Papa’s Day series with a one-on-one talk with Papa-Activist Jerome Scott. Enlightened by his experience as a soldier in Vietnam, Jerome returned home and embarked on fifty years of social justice work.
Starting in the late 1960s, as an automotive plant worker in Detroit, MI, Jerome became co-founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. Later, he moved to Atlanta, GA, where he maintains his ties to social justice efforts. Jerome is known worldwide as a founding member and former director of one of the principal southern based popular education organizations, Project South: Institute for the Elimination of Poverty & Genocide. During Jerome’s tenure, Project South was the anchor organization for the 2007 US Social Forum.
Today, Jerome serves on the National Planning Committee of the US Social Forum and is active in Grassroots Global Justice, the League of Revolutionaries for a New America, and an advisor and mentor to many other social justice organizations. He is author/co-author of numerous chapters and articles on race, class, movement building, and the revolutionary process, and is a contributing editor to popular education toolkits and books including The United States Social Forum: Perspectives of a Movement, The Roots of Terror, and Today’s Globalization.
Executive Director, Malika Redmond, had an inspirational conversation with Jerome Scott, as he shared how fatherhood cemented his drive to make the world a just place.
MR: How does fatherhood shape your work?
JS: I returned from Vietnam in 1967 and began organizing. My longevity is tied to raising my four children. Back in the day, we asked — what would our children take away from the movement? We were fighting for our children’s future. Having a family meant that you had to manage your time. You didn’t just impregnate a woman. You needed to be an active father. The gratification for the justice work I do comes from being a father. I am proud to be an activist and active father, to nurture children and a revolution. It is a total package, and an inspiration.
Living and working in Detroit, it was important to get Black leadership in the unions–and we did. I lived through the modern day Civil Rights movement and the end of Jim Crow, and it was us, the poor and working class at the forefront of the movement. We accomplished a lot together. Still, over the years, I’ve seen how reactionary forces chipped away at our progressive gains. We started losing our advances because we grew complacent and still. The great lesson I learned from my work in the 70s is that the movement ebbs and flows. We will continually experience both great gains and great losses as we inch closer to justice. That can sound demoralizing, but what sustains me during the lulls is knowing that the movement will rise again, grow even stronger, and make greater advances than in the previous period.
MR: How do you work in solidarity with Black women and reproductive justice?
JS: Reproductive justice needs more visible solidarity from fathers. We have to get more people in our country to understand that an attack on one is an attack on all! Today, many southern states do not want to expand Medicaid as required by the Affordable Care Act. This is a disproportionate attack against poor Black women, yet it is an attack on all people — and we have to think and act that way across issue areas in social justice movement. We have to prioritize poor women and women of color’s rights even if we do not think their issues affect us directly.
MR: What words of wisdom would you share with other fathers?
JS: The most important lesson a father can teach their children is everyday people make history.
SPARK thanks the indelible Papa-Activist Jerome Scott for inspirational advice on fatherhood, longevity in social justice movements, and on solidarity with reproductive justice.