James Thindwa

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James Thindwa

James Thindwa was born and raised in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia. His family took part in Rhodesia's fight against British colonial rule. There he learned the power of organized labor and organized protest. "Unions to us, growing up, performed more functions than just negotiating for better wages for workers. They really were seen in society as a legitimate vehicle for transforming society."

Thindwa won a scholarship to Kentucky's Berea College and went on to a masters degree at Miami University of Ohio. As a student he protested against the Ku Klux Klan and apartheid in South Africa. He moved to Chicago, where he advocated for senior citizens before joining Jobs with Justice[1].

Died in January 2020. Partner of Martha Biondi.

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."[2]

“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.

“We allowed Wal-Mart to frame the issue as Wal-Mart versus the unions, rather than Wal-Mart versus the community,” said James Thindwa, of Chicago Jobs with Justice. “They spent a lot of money to break up our coalition. We had not anticipated that Wal-Mart would use its clout…and pay off the opposition. Frankly, we didn’t realize the depth of the leadership crisis in the Black community.”

Sixth Ward Alderwoman Freddrena Lyle, a longtime activist, won’t be turned around by Wal-Mart lies and blandishments. “We have to get back in the game. We have to push our legislators.”[3]

CCDS Convention


James Thindwa addressed the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism 5th National Convention, July 21-23, 2006.

The "Economic and Social Justice" panel featured:[4]

Communist Party convention

Thindwa spoke on the anti-Walmart campaign on a panel at the Communist Party USA 28th convention.[5]

Open Letter to Obama on Iran

In 2008 James Thindwa of Chicago Jobs with Justice, Chicago, IL signed an online petition “A Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran”.[6]

In These Times

As of 2009 James Thindwa was on the Board of Directors of Chicago based socialist journal In These Times.[7]

New New Deal: Making It Happen

Chicago's Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice organized a June 13 event entitled "A New New Deal: Making It Happen". at the Workers United Hall, 333 S. Ashland in Chicago.

This mini-conference has the long-term goal of promoting a wide-ranging multi-issue discussion of progressive solutions to the economic crisis and its root causes. OPCTJ hopes that this and other events like it will serve as catalysts in bringing together groups and individuals who are engaged in struggles for peace, equality, social and economic justice in order to collectively build a grassroots movement for comprehensive change.

Plenary speakers provided "updates on four urgent and ongoing campaigns": War and Militarism, Michael McConnell - American Friends Service Committee; Employee Free Choice Act, James Thindwa - Chicago Jobs with Justice; Single-Payer Health Care, Dr.Anne Scheetz - Physicians for a National Health Plan; Foreclosures and Mortgages, Elce Redmond - South Austin Coalition of Community Councils[8].

Supporting the People's World

The Chicago Communist Party USA 22nd Annual People’s World Banquet Dec. 6 2009, at the Parthenon Restaurant. Several thousand dollars was raised for the PW Fund Drive from "supporters who dug deep despite the hard economic times".

The attendees, a rainbow crowd of labor, community and religious activists, entered the festive room to the sounds of the jazz trio, Lovers in Arms and a running slide show of photos from struggles over the past year.

Several leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union joined two organizers, Hugo Hernandez and James Thindwa of the Chris Hani-Rudy Lozano award winners, the Chicago Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff[9].

The program also included a performance of Mescolanza, a new performance group of movement veterans Terry Davis, James Thindwa, Sijisfredo Aviles and Bob Huston who "hope to carry multi-cultural social justice song to the picket line, rallies and events". Tim Yeager with his accordion joined them at the end for Solidarity Forever and the International[10].

Support for Bernie Sanders

James Thindwa pledged support for Bernie Sanders through Labor for Bernie, a "nationwide network of labor activists, backing Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign."