Rev. Reginald Williams
Anti Walmart symposium
The Wal-Mart, Race & Gender: Local Controversies, Global Process symposium was held on January 21st 2006 at the University of Chicago. It was an opportunity to put the many-faceted struggle against Wal-Mart—and the nature of the corporation itself—into context.
Organized by the university’s Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and the Center for Gender Studies, the "symposium drew about 250 people into a mostly sober discussion of the Wal-Mart menace, and the particularities of how it impacts the various groups it seeks to crush or coopt— the kind of conversation that is sorely needed by all who claim to be “movement” people."
“Wal-Mart uses people as a pimp does,” said Rev. Reginald Williams, of Trinity United Church of Christ, to enthusiastic applause. “We want jobs that will add to the life of the community.” It is the beginning of a general demand that requires a whole community be addressed as citizens. The logic of such a demand can only be satisfied through a campaign for institutional community empowerment—a much broader concept of democracy.
Rev. Williams: “Price over Principle equals Prostitution.” From the faith-based perspective of the social gospel, Wal- Mart is bad for the West Side, said Rev. Elce Redmond, of the South Austin Community Coalition. Wal-Mart is lying to the people—disrespecting them—with its promises to hire convicted felons and young people from the immediate neighborhood. “Hire young people? Not the ones hanging on the corner, not those kids.” Rev. Williams said Wal-Mart had poisoned the discussion by painting “all unions as bad, racist, based on the records of the building trades.” It is true that the building trades are a heavy cross to bear. Maybe too heavy.