John Zippert

From KeyWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
John Zippert


John Zippert is the Director of Program Operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund at their Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama. He has over 45 years experience in community organizing, cooperative and credit union development, community based economic development and rural development in distressed communities. Prior to working for the Federation, he was a fieldworker for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Louisiana. He has a BA degree in history from the City College of New York; and has participated in numerous training sessions and courses to enhance his skills in rural development.

Zippert has worked with the Federation on the development of affordable housing for low income people in Alabama, including development, loan packaging and construction of over 250 units of single family housing, self-help housing and four rural multi-family projects with 126 units.

Zippert and his wife Carol Zippert are co-publishers of the Greene County Democrat, the weekly newspaper in their home rural community. They have published the newspaper since it was acquired in December 1984 by a community group in the county.[1]

Radical activism

John Zippert joined the Congress On Racial Equality chapter at City College of New York; active in student government and numerous organizations during college including Students for a Democratic Society and W.E.B. Dubois Club.[2]

All night Vietnam Teach-In

Antivietnamteachin.JPG

April 13, 1965, City College NY, Hundreds of students and members of the faculty began an all night teach-in to "hear all the issues and viewpoints on the War in Vietnam" at 10 PM in the Grand Ballroom. SG President John Zippert made the first peech of 'Teach-In."

Scheduled to follow John Zippert and President Gallagher were speakers including Marxist scholar Dr. Herbert Aptheker, Professors Maurice Cohen (Philosophy) and Conrad Schirokauer (History). Pete Seeger was also expected to appear.

The teach-in is being sponsored by Student Government, the Young Democrats and the W.E.B. DuBois Club.

The purpose of the meeting, according to Matt Berkelhammer, a member of the DuBois Club, is to demonstrate the concern of students at the College about the war in Vietnam.

Civil rights

Zippertnnn.JPG
Howard Simon, John Zippert, Selma Alabama 2015

In 1965, the City College Student Government received a telegram from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — one of many he sent to allies around the country — urging that if they shared his vision and commitment to equality and racial justice, they should join him for a “peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom’’ from Selma to Montgomery

Howard Simon was serving as vice president and his friend John Zippert was student government president.

Understandably, our parents were terrified about our decision to join Dr. King in Selma. The month before, an Alabama state trooper shot and killed civil rights demonstrator Jimmie Lee Jackson, and a few weeks later thugs killed James Reeb, a Boston Unitarian minister.

Two years earlier, three young men, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman (then a student at Queens College) were brutally murdered in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer campaign to assist blacks in registering to vote. John Zippert’s mother knew the agony of Andrew Goodman’s mother; both were members of the same Hadassah group

John Zippert, another friend from Hunter College Joseph Popper, and Howard Simon boarded the bus for Selma.

With student-government expertise, Simon was assigned to work the mimeograph machine in the basement of Brown Chapel under the direction of Dr. King’s aide, Rev. Andrew Young. They attended evening rallies at the Church, and were inspired by the words of Dr. King that Alabama and the nation had a “date with destiny.”

The 54-mile march began on Sunday, March 21. Under the terms of the injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Frank Johnson, a chosen group of about 300 marchers (priests, nuns, rabbis and students — black and white together — led by Dr. King) crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River and headed to Montgomery. Zippert, Simon, and others, were later bused to catch up with the demonstrators.

We spent nights sleeping on school gymnasium floors. Along Route 80, we supported each other by singing the anthems of the Civil Rights Movement. But the tone changed once we reached Montgomery. As we marched through the streets toward the Alabama state capitol, I recall the tense silence. Crowds lined both sides of the streets, often cursing, sometimes spitting at the marchers.

Later that day, a car with four Klansmen overtook the vehicle driven by Viola Liuzzo, who was ferrying a civil rights marcher back to Selma. Shots were fired, and the Detroit mother of five young children was hit twice in the face and killed.

John and I returned home from Selma to go our separate paths, but continuing to work for racial equality and social justice. Almost immediately, John returned to the South — where he still works.

Through correspondence courses and credits earned at colleges in southwest Louisiana, John Zippert ultimately completed his undergraduate degree from the City College in 1968.[3]

Supreme Court

Through the Congress of Racial Equality, John Zippert was assigned to help develop farmer’s cooperatives in Opelousas, in southwest Louisiana. At a farmers meeting that John convened in the spring of 1966 to discuss plans for a sweet potato marketing co-operative, he met and fell in love with Carol Prejean. Born and raised in Lafayette, she was working with black farmers and sharecroppers in the Lafayette-Lake Charles area to create a farmer’s cooperative to ensure that they would get a fair price for their crops.

John is white and Carol Prejean is black, their relationship was not legally permitted. In 1967, Louisiana’s anti-miscegenation law barred them from being issued a marriage license.

With legal help from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and others, Jthe couple filed suit in U.S. District Court (Zippert vs. Sylvester) challenging the constitutionality of the state’s anti-miscegenation law. Their case was stayed until the U. S. Supreme Court decided Loving v. Virginia involving a white man and his mixed-race wife. The decision in the Loving case was issued in June 1967. It barred Virginia and other states, including Louisiana, from making interracial marriage a crime.

The Zipperts became the first interracial couple to wed in Louisiana.

They now publish a community newspaper, remain education advocates and strong supporters of economic and rural development for farmers and education.[4]

Radical connections

From the October 24, 1967 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD - SENATE 29777, [From Barron·s, July 31, 1967) POVERTY WARRIORS: THE RIOTS ARE SUBSIDIZED AS WELL AS ORGANIZED.

The Southwest' Alabama Farmers Cooperative Association of Selma, which the Office of Economic Opportunity recently granted $700,000, numbers among Its principals John Zippert and Shirley Mesher. Louisiana's Joint Legislative Committee on Un-American Activities recently documented Mr. Zippert'sassociation with radical causes, Including the Kremlin-financed World Youth Festival. According to the Alabama Legislative Commission to Preserve the Peace, Miss Mesher, a former coordinator for SNCC, Is "a prime participant In the Black Panther movement designed to overthrow the government .

At the time the had several radicals on its payrooll, including .

Two examples are John Ross, of the Progressive Labor Party, who served on the anti-poverty board in San Francisco; and Howard Harawitz, a former member of the W.E.B. DuBois Club, who serves on a similar anti-poverty board in Berkeley.

Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice

Heather Gray served on the board of the Southern Organizing Committee for Racial and Economic Justice that Anne Braden co-chaired along with Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth. The organization " was one of the few that provided the opportunity for us to think and act regionally and to make the essential connections of the myriad of issues we faced. From the 1980’s and on the meetings were always filled with a diversity of black, white and eventually Latino activists in the region".

We would sit for hours in New Orleans, Montgomery or Birmingham to strategize on various issues, activities and mistakes we’ve made then and in the past. We would also listen, learn and occasionally join in while the legendary leaders in our midst discussed and analyzed the dynamics of white supremacy, racial politics generally and labor challenges in the South. Anne was never without offering a lengthy epistle about anything until the wee hours of the night along with her ever-present cigarettes! These sessions were often both grueling and enlightening. They were not only a history lesson but also a socialization process into the tactics of southern civil rights activism and Anne understood the importance of this. She wanted to pass this information on to all of us and to keep the momentum going at every conceivable juncture. The meetings were a roll call of southern leaders and activists the likes of Reverend C. T. Vivian, Jack O'Dell, Gwen Patton, Virginia Durr, Reverend Fred Taylor, Reverend James Orange, Connie Tucker, John Zippert, Jackie Ward, Reverend Benjamin Chavis, Charlie Orrock, Ann Romaine, Damu Smith, Jim Dunn, Judy Hand, Scott Douglas, Ron Chisholm, Spiver Gordon, Pat Bryant, Tirso Moreno and countless others.[5]

FSC

August3187fl.JPG

John Zippert and Carol Zippert were profiled for their work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Frontline, August 31, 1987.

Frontline

Flmarch89zippert.JPG

John Zippert contributed an article to the Line of March paper Frontline, March 1989 issue.

Funding Alabama State Association of Cooperatives

Washington DC October 1, 2014, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $200,000 in grant funding to the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives. The funding will be used to expand support to cooperatives in the Black Belt and is part of the Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG) program.

“I am pleased that the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives will receive this funding to continue its initiatives to create new opportunities for disadvantaged farmers in Alabama’s Black Belt Region,” said Rep. Sewell. “The funding will also allow the association to provide continuous support to the farming industry by serving as a means of sustainability and survival for many communities in the Black Belt.

John Zippert of the Alabama State Association of Cooperatives expressed his appreciation for the funding and highlighted the economic impact of assistingsocially disadvantaged producers.

“We will work to improve marketing and business practices for participants so we can raise the income of these producers,” Zippert said. “We welcome the producers in the 7th Congressional District to contact us for assistance because the goal is to help as many people as possible.”[6]

Greene County radicals/helping Doug Jones

At a time when the Democratic Party has drastically scaled back operations nationwide in conservative bastions like Alabama, it fell to civil rights leaders — including activists and ministers, attorneys and businessmen — to organize and energize black voters to vote for Doug Jones.

The numbers show they got the job done well. As the vote totals rolled in, Selma — the site of storied civil rights and county seat — supplied the coup de grace, delivering nearly 75 percent of Dallas County’s votes to Jones.

This is the place where, in March 1965, peaceful marchers were teargassed and beaten mercilessly by state troopers while the news cameras rolled. The demonstrators were attempting a symbolic 54-mile march to the state capital to demand full voting rights for blacks. National outraged followed the televised brutality, and later that month, the marchers — backed by a federal court order — arrived at the capital 25,000 strong.

The demonstration was seen as a turning point in a national debate that led to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in August 1965.

The mobilization of black voters across Alabama in the run-up to this week’s election shows Democrats that it’s time to invest more in — and follow the lead of — civil rights leaders.

You could see the movement’s force in Greene County, near the state’s western edge. The area was a hotbed of civil rights activism in the 1960s, when Dr. King and his top lieutenants paid multiple visits.

The torch later passed to local leaders like John Zippert and Carol Zippert, who have spent decades running programs for an organization, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, that helps black farmers get access to credit and land. The Zipperts also publish a newspaper, the Greene County Democrat, that urged voters to the polls.

The county seat, Eutaw, features a casino, Greenetrack, whose CEO is Luther Winn, a politically active businessman who supports the local NAACP and the National Action Network, the organization run by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Thanks in part to the efforts of Winn, the Zipperts and NAACP activists, Jones carried Greene with an overwhelming 87 percent of the vote, a larger margin than Moore won in any county.[7]

Meeting Doug Jones

Dr. Carol Zippert; John Zippert, ANSC State President; Gus Townes; Senator Doug Jones; Karen Jones; Attorney Everett Wess; Robert Avery; Attorney Faya Rose Toure; Attorney Sharon Wheeler; Senator Hank Sanders

Doug Jones, Alabama’s newly elected Senator, met with a delegation of Alabama New South Coalition members on Saturday, January 6, 2018, in Birmingham. All of ANSC delegation members played an active role in the ‘Vote or Die Campaign’ to register, educate, mobilize and turnout voters in the December 12, 2017 Special Election, in which Jones defeated Judge Roy Moore.

Jones thanked the ANSC and the Vote or Die Campaign for their support and help in winning a closely fought contest with Judge Roy Moore. He said he appreciated “the early and continuing efforts of ANSC, ANSA and Vote or Die from the beginning of the race, starting at the first primary and continuing all the way through.”

Members of the ANSC delegation expressed congratulations and support to Senator Jones and indicated that they realized that “ a movement orientation was needed not just an ordinary political campaign, to create the excitement and interest, to generate the kind of turnout that was required to win this election.”

Senator Jones said that he would continue to communicate on a regular basis with the delegation about the upcoming state elections in 2018 and his own re-election campaign in 2020. Jones said that he would participate in the upcoming Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the first weekend in March, and other activities related to supporting voting rights.[8]

Run for State Democratic Executive Committee

John Zippert ran for the State Democratic Executive Committee in District 72, which includes parts of Greene, Hale and Perry Counties. He was on the ballot in the Democratic Primary on June 5, 2018.

Zippert is currently the Co-Publisher and Editor of the Greene County Democrat weekly newspaper based in Eutaw, Alabama. He has worked in management and training capacities with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund based at the organization’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama, for the past 50 years and is semi-retired from the Federation.

Zippert serves on the Greene County Health Systems Board of Directors and the Greene County Industrial Development Authority Board.

He is a founding member of the Alabama New South Coalition and serves as its current State President. He serves on the boards of several state and national organizations including the Alabama Council on Human Relations, Rural Coalition, Rural Development Leadership Network and others.

‘I am running for the State Democratic Executive Committee because I want to help reform and revitalize the Democratic Party in Alabama. I want to build on the momentum we gained in electing Doug Jones to the United States Senate in the Special Election last December,” said Zippert.

He continued, “The Democratic Party in Alabama must be part of a fifty state strategy to elect progressive candidates committed to assisting poor and working people make changes that increase fairness, justice and inclusion of all people and share the prosperity of this economy more equitably with everyone.”[9]

References