RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #216, 12-18-2016

In this issue:
Nominations open for new RPA Steering Committee members
Spotlight on the Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition
In celebration of Marion Fay
San Antonio Progressive Alliance launches!
MLK Day of Service on the Greenway

RPA is seeking new leadership!
Nominations open for new RPA Steering Committee members

The RPA Nominating Committee is in the process of accepting nominations (of yourself or someone you know) for the next RPA Steering Committee. The Nominating Committee is chaired by Sharron Williams and Diana Wear and is comprised of a blend of current Steering Committee members as well as RPA members. The committee will be presenting a slate of candidates to be voted upon by the general RPA membership at the February 2017 meeting.

As both a membership organization and an alliance of organizations working for progressive change in Richmond, the RPA Steering Committee is composed of at-large members, representatives of RPA action teams (e.g. on housing, schools, immigration, etc.) as well some of the community organizations actively working with the RPA.

If you are interested in serving, or know someone who would make a good addition, please contact Sharron Williams at skwilliams@yurumeinlaw.com. Interviews will be conducted in January so please get your/those names in soon!

RPA Steering Committee, 2016. Photo credit: Juan Reardon
Steering committee spotlight
Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition

As the RPA Nominating Committee continues assembling a slate of Steering Committee nominees, we begin a new series featuring organizational representatives on the RPA Steering Committee. We encourage all those who are interested in the work of these organizations to get involved and join them!

Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition

The Contra Costa County Racial Justice Coalition is comprised of organizations and individuals committed to eliminating racial inequalities in Contra Costa County and around the world. Its creation was prompted by a 2014 statement by Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark Peterson claiming that racism does not exist in the county criminal justice system. His statement, which was a direct repudiation of local Black Lives Matter activists, galvanized public defenders, attorneys and community members, giving rise to the CCCRJC.

In its relatively short history, the Coalition has made impressive strides. Its recent achievements include stopping the Sheriff’s proposed jail expansion in November 2015, and successfully pressing the Contra Costa Public Protection Committee to create and fund a Racial Justice Task to identify and implement measures to reduce the racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

Most recently (2016), the Coalition successfully advocated for an end to the practice of requiring parents to pay for the cost of incarcerating their children in Contra Costa County. Research shows that kids from low-income families are likelier than kids from wealthier families to end up in the justice system.

CCRJC meetings are open to the public and held monthly in Antioch and Richmond. To find out about their next meeting, email cccrjcinfo@gmail.com and for more information about the Coalition, visit https://cccrjc.org/. You can also reach out to the current CCRJC representative on the RPA Steering Committee, Sung Ae Choi.

[Photo credit: CCRJC]
Sunday, 1/8 at 2:00pm
In Celebration of Marion Fay

Marion Fay, 77, resident of Richmond and a member of the RPA, died unexpectedly in a solo car crash on Sunday October 2, 2016. As a journalist during the sixties for the Sun Reporter, Marion interviewed and photographed black activists such as Muhammad Ali and Ralph Abernathy and she covered World Peace Council efforts toward international peace and against the U.S. role in Vietnam. She then taught English in the Peralta Community College District and served as editor of the College’s first accreditation self-study report. After retirement, she took up the clarinet and pursued it with a passion; eventually she became a member of several trios, quartets and octets and played regularly with the Diablo Symphony Orchestra.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Marion on January 8, 2017 at Northbrae Church at 2:00 pm; all are welcome.

[Excerpted from obituary in East Bay Times, 29 Oct 2016]
News from the nation:
San Antonio Progressive Alliance launches!

Steve Early, author of Refinery Town, a forthcoming book about Richmond politics, noted in a recent Bill Moyers interview (“What a California Refinery Town Can Teach America”):

I think we have to do this kind of [RPA-type organizing] work in more places, as hard as it is, because if we don’t create a progressive populist alternative that’s multiracial and working class-oriented, we’ve just seen on Nov. 8 who fills that void and what fills that vacuum and it’s not pretty. And we’re going to be suffering greatly from it for the next four years due to what’s coming out of Washington. So I think communities like Richmond are going to continue to be a beacon of light and hope and hopefully creating more models for the kinds of public policies that in more places over time will be adopted at the state and federal level.

Well said, Steve! Last month, a new RPA action team was formally created to help the organization respond to the numerous requests we are getting from across the country to build grassroots organizations dedicated to fostering progressive community and political change. We recently received an update from folks in San Antonio who, since the summer, have been working to build the San Antonio Progressive Alliance, which has been explicitly modeled on the RPA.

This month they had their first major event, an assembly to hammer out a grassroots platform for a joint left slate in their May 2017 city council election. The event was highly successful, and drew 110-120 attendees. Participants broke into groups to flesh out platform planks around seven key issues: Gentrification/ Development/ Privatization; Anti-Discrimination; Environment/ Water; Workers Rights and Income Inequality; and Public Projects and Education.

The group expects to organize another large assembly in late January 2017, during which they will roll out their candidate slate for the upcoming election and finalize their platform. Also in the works: campaigner/ candidate trainings, continued platform distillations and candidate recruitment over the next months. The San Antonio Progressive Alliance is off to an inspiring start – we are rooting for them and wishing them all the best!

[Photo credit: San Antonio Progressive Alliance]
Monday, 1/16 at 9:00am
MLK Day of Service on the Greenway

Please join us for the 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway!

Meet at 9:00 am on Monday, January 16, 2017 on the Richmond Greenway at 20th Street. There will be volunteer projects and speakers; and lunch will be provided too. What a great way to give back to the city we love. Please wear closed-toe shoes and layers of clothing, and consider bringing work gloves, a water bottle and a friend or two!

Signed articles are the opinion of the author. Official RPA positions are noted as Steering Committee decisions. Other content created by Michelle Chan, editor.