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Book details
  • SubGenre:NGOs
  • Language:English
  • Pages:350
  • eBook ISBN:9780984690626

ACORN 8: Race, Power & Politics

Memoirs of an ACORN Whistleblower

by Michael McCray

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For several decades, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) ran campaigns across the nation seeking fair, affordable, safe housing and other desirable social justice goals for the dispossessed. The group’s style tended toward the confrontational, making demands of powerful corporations and government agencies until change occurred, city by city, state by state. Michael McCray, a certified public accountant and lawyer, became deeply involved as an ACORN national board member. What he saw and heard shocked him, so he became a whistleblower, a role he had previously assumed as U.S. Department of Agriculture employee. His whistleblowing there had cost him his job, but had not dulled his desire to set wrongs right. While ACORN 8: Race, Power & Politics—Memoirs of an ACORN Whistleblower as told by Marcel Reid features Reid’s whistleblowing prominently, the book is primarily McCray’s story, not Reid’s. Marcel Reid is an African American woman who became an ACORN national board member before McCray and fought what she saw as Caucasian paid-staff domination at the top, with the members viewed as dispensable and interchangeable. The book’s villain is Wade Rathke, a brilliant Caucasian community organizer with roots in Little Rock and New Orleans. McCray, Reid and other ACORN members allege that Rathke and his inner circle, including family members, ran the organization as a dictatorship, for power and monetary enrichment. The book also addresses the subject of the massive Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with McCray alleging that union leadership took advantage of ACORN members through an arrangement with Rathke. While McCray covers the rise and fall of a fascinating organization, yet another strand involves the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, as McCray and other ACORN members work on behalf of Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama.
Michael McCray has both his CPA and his law degree, and yet, in the mid 1990’s, those became obsolete when he was met with a decision that changed his life forever. That’s when he became a whistle blower. At the time, he was working at the United States Department of Agriculture, overseeing a Federal Empowerment Zone in Mississippi for the Clinton White House. There, McCray says he discovered mismanagement and corruption involving the main bureaucrats working for the zone. When McCray attempted to report this corruption, he says the system attempted to cover up his revelation and smear him in the process. Since that day, he’s become an advocate, activist, organizer, and now writer. McCray found himself at a cross roads within an organization that would soon begin to live in infamy for a few months at least, and become the main story everyone was talking about. The name of the organization is the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and thousands of writers have broached the subject, but this story is different. That’s because it’s the first one told from the perspective of the whistle blower. As a whistle blower, McCray wasn’t merely a witness to the now recent history of ACORN, but he was an active player. McCray says that he wrote the book, ACORN 8—Race, Power and Politics, in conjunction with another ACORN whistle blower, Marcel Reid. Glenn Beck called Reid a modern day Rosa Parks, when he first introduced the ACORN story to the public. Reid was Beck’s main source back then and she headed up the DC Chapter of ACORN, which eventually went rogue. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) spoke exclusively with McCray, Reid, and the genius behind ACORN, Wade Rathke. Reid has been quoted often as saying of Rathke, “he’s an organic genius.” Meanwhile, McCray has described Rathke as diabolical. Rathke is arguably the greatest community organizer of all time, not a bad title considering some people consider Jesus himself a community organizer. The book details a period in McCray’s life in which he discovers a remarkably sophisticated case of mortgage fraud involving a national landmark in Atlanta, The Hotel Winecoff. McCray had become involved in organizing shortly after becoming a whistle blower. He attempted to expose the mortgage fraud using organizing contacts. Everyone told him to go to ACORN. ACORN did take on the issue only that’s just the beginning of the story. You’ll have to read the book to get the rest. In two short years, McCray went from partnering up with ACORN, to serving on its Georgia board, to serving on its national board, and finally to blowing the whistle on massive corruption. McCray would go on to become a founding member of ACORN 8 but the book tells the story of the first three parts of McCray’s experiences. The book describes ACORN as both an extremely effective organizing tool for low and moderate income individuals and as a deeply flawed institution in desperate need of reform by both Reid and McCray. The central theme both say, “it was an organization that was supposed to be about the members, but it’s really about the organizers, better yet the chief organizer, Wade Rathke.” Rathke denied that charge vociferously, “The organization has always been about the membership.” Rathke told SCLC that he considered McCray’s book another in a long line of hit jobs on his past organization and he couldn’t answer each one, even if he wanted to. The book delves into another area entirely, the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination. That’s because McCray is also a seasoned political operative. McCray was raised in Arkansas, the birthplace of ACORN and home of the Clintons. He worked on their Presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996. In 2008, he jumped at the chance to work on Senator Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign. In so doing, he created a perspective for himself, stunningly unique. He’s an African American community organizer working for the opponent of an African American community organizer who will during to course of the book pull off one of the greatest political coups, winning the Democratic nomination, of all time. McCray points out in the book that Obama won because Clinton underestimated him from the beginning. As evidence the group of Black politicos he led, The Buffalo Soldiers, weren’t brought into Iowa until weeks before the primary. Obama had his best troops on the ground months earlier. It’s a two pronged story that crescendos just as the world finds out that Dale Rathke, Wade Rathke’s brother, embezzled almost a million dollars. It was at that moment that the story exploded in America at large. Of course, as whistle blowers and national board members, Reid and McCray have vantage points no one else can claim. --Mike Volpe, SCLC Magazine, The Daily Caller, World Net Daily
About the author
Michael McCray, Esq., CPA is a dedicated human rights and public interest advocate. A Howard University, American University and Georgetown University Law Center alumnus, Michael is committed to education and teaches community economic development and finance at Prairie View A&M University as a visiting graduate professor. A Conservative Democrat, Michael began his career in public service as a community and economic development specialist who pioneered new technologies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the White House Empowerment Zones Initiative under the Clinton Administration. A National Board Member of Federal Employed Women/Legal Education Fund (FEW/LEF) and former National Board Delegate for Georgia ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now; Michael McCray champions national issues such as federal worker’s rights, fair lending (mortgage fraud) and judicial reform.