While Chicago community organizer Anton Seals Jr. has an infectious laugh, he is dead serious about economic development and equity for the city’s south side and west side African American communities.
He grew up in South Shore of activist parents. His Dad was a south side field organizer for the Harold Washington campaign.
“I got dragged from meeting to meeting as kid,” he shared with on on Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. “I was an Operation Push baby.’
Currently he is Lead Steward, or Executive Director, of Grow Greater Englewood.
I love the title of Lead Steward.
As a union guy when I think of the title of steward I think of the union representative, union steward, or shop steward that represents and defends the interests of they’re fellow employees.
When Seals came up with the title he was talking about a steward and care taker of the land.
Cooperative farming is a central aspect of Seal’s community organizing.
When he talks about the development of cooperative farming on the hundreds of acres of open land in Englewood, Seals draws a clear historical connection to the African and African American experience as stewards of the land, even in slavery, and the forced migration – as a result of racist terror – from the former Confederacy to Chicago.
Seals is all in on the development of the cannabis industry in Black communities and unites with those who were critical of the roll-out on January 1st that only included white men.
But he was in on the early legislative discussions that included an equity component.
Real equity would have placed the emerging cannabis business in the city in the context of reparations, he told us.
The way forward is complex. Opening weed dispensaries need capital. There is the danger of it becoming a part of an Amazon-like empire. Or not even Amazon-like. Amazon.
But Anton Seals Jr. is in the fight for real.