Koch Brothers’ New Racial Gambit: What’s Really Behind A Quiet Battle With AFSCME

Source: Joan Walsh / Salon.com

UNCF’s decision to accept Koch funding was controversial even before AFSCME severed ties with the organization and some African-Americans have raised questions similar to Lee Saunders. On NewsOneNow, Roland Martin hosted a discussion on the Kochs’ donation last month that turned into a polite but sharp debate between Lomax and progressive economist Julianne Malveaux, the former president of Bennett College for Women, the oldest historically black women’s college.

“The Koch brothers want a government-free society,” Saunders says. “Public service has enabled African-Americans to move into the middle class, but the Kochs are trying to dismantle that.”

The backlash against AFSCME’s decision on the right has led progressives to come out in support of the union in the last few days. “We believe that AFSCME is doing what is right for its members who the Koch brothers have targeted and is working in the interests of students of color who attend not only UNCF Institutions, but all institutions of higher learning,” Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network said in a statement. (Saunders is on its board.) Color of Change’s Rashad Robinson agreed, insisting that the Kochs, who “spend their lives advancing an agenda that puts our communities in harm’s way, will never give us enough money in the name of charity to overturn their agenda.”

Saunders says, once again, that critics are wrong when they insist AFSCME is taking scholarships away from black students. He promises the union will continue its scholarship program for students of color.

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