RPA New LogoThe Activist

Issue #222, 04-16-2017

In this issue:
Richmond McDonalds workers fight for safer workplace
Richmond Anthology of Poetry public reading
Haiti Action Committee welcomes Maryse Narcisse
The Cuba caravan is coming!
Progressive action to promote Richmond public schools
Rally and march to support the Healthy California Act!
Know Your Rights workshop
Join the RPA contingent at the Cinco de Mayo parade!
Read: Interview about the RPA in Counterpunch

McDonalds on Macdonald
Richmond McDonalds workers fighting for a safer workplace

On Friday April 14, McDonalds workers at the 23rd and Macdonald location in Richmond demonstrated for safer workplace conditions.


Their main concern: there have been several gun incidents late at night both inside the restaurant and outside on the take-out lines. During the April 14th action, McDonalds workers gathered to present some demands to the franchise owner.  Specifically, they asked that the doors be repaired and strengthened, and that security personnel be posted at all times the store is open. The petitioning workers were backed up by members of the East Bay Fight for Fifteen group (which is trying to win $15.00/hour wage in fast food restaurants)  and some members of the RPA. 


The McDonalds franchise owner has six restaurants around the Bay Area and apparently does quite well. He pays his workers minimum wage, which is $10.00 in most places but $12.80 at this store thanks to the Richmond minimum wage ordinance. But as Tina Sandoval, one of the McDonalds workers who spoke out on Friday said, “$12.80  isn’t worth my life.”

[Photo credit: Mike Parker]

Saturday, 4/22, 3pm
Richmond Anthology of Poetry public reading

Celebrate Richmond's vibrant creative wellspring with poets featured in the Richmond Anthology of Poetry. 

On Saturday, April 22, from 3-5 pm in the Whittlesey Room, the Richmond Public Library (325 Civic Center Plaza) will host a free presentation of the Anthology, now available for check out in its new releases section.

In the book’s introduction, editor Daniel Ari writes: “I am proud of how this anthology showcases our range. I’m proud of the poets, ages 10 to 80-something, from many backgrounds, living in different Richmond neighborhoods and many places beyond our city limits.”

For orders and info, email richmondpoetry@sonic.net

Books will be for sale at the event and can be purchased at Amazon.com

Published by Norfolk Press, San Francisco. Design by Jan Brown, Spokewise. Cover art by Lauren Ari


Sunday, 4/21, 3pm
Haiti Action Committee: A conversation with Dr. Maryse Narcisse

The Haiti Action Committee invites you to join them in welcoming Dr. Maryse Narcisse, the presidential candidate of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Haiti's first democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. As a medical doctor, Dr. Narcisse led the Aristide Foundation's medical response after the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew. This is her first visit to the Bay Area.


Over the past two years, Haiti's popular movement has fought a relentless campaign for free and fair elections in support of Dr. Narcisse's candidacy. They fought to overturn the results of fraudulent elections that gave the presidency to a U.S.-backed right wing candidate.


A long-time Lavalas militant, Dr. Narcisse has been in the streets with the people day after day, as they faced police bullets, tear gas, water hoses and clubs.


This benefit for the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund will include music by Vukani Mawethu, Phavia Kugichagulia and Val Serrant. Donations are $10-25 sliding scale, with no one turned away


Sunday, April 23, 3 – 5pm

First Presbyterian Church of Oakland

27th Street and Broadway, Oakland


For more information go to www.haitisolidarity.net or email the Haiti Action Committee.

Sunday, 4/23, 3pm
The Cuba Caravan is coming to town!

The Richmond – Regla Cuba Friendship Committee and the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity invite you to an event featuring Manolo de los Santos, of Pastors for Peace; and a showing of “Dare to Dream,” a 30-minute film about Cuba’s Latin American Medical School. (Trailer: www.facebook.com/dare2dreamcuba).


There will also be a posters display by Cuba’s Organization of Solidarity with Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America, (OSPAAAL). Margaret Randall, author of To Change the World, My Years in Cuba, describes these posters as“…clever, stylized, combative and evocative images created by dozens of Cuban artists.”


The event will explore how the U.S. trade & travel blockade/embargo has affected Cubans, and what it will take to end this failed policy and fully normalize relations with our Cuban neighbors.


There will also be music, and light refreshments.


Sunday, April 23, 3:00-5:30 pm

Bobbie Bowens Progressive Center

2540 MacDonald Ave. Richmond, CA 94804


This event is wheelchair accessible.  Donations appreciated, but no one will turned away for lack of funds, and everyone welcome!


For further info: Contact Trina Jackson at (510) 620-6581

Report from the Schools Action Team
Progressive action to promote Richmond public schools


The RPA Schools Action Team is an active group of volunteers dedicated to improving public education in Richmond. This month, lifelong educator and Councilmember Eduardo Martinez spoke at a six-hour WCCUSD Board of Education meeting on April 12, and advocated for the prompt rebuilding of Wilson Elementary School, questioning the merits of the District's "design-build" proposal that will further delay the project. He also advocated that the Board keep vital adult ESL and GED classes at the convenient Serra site, rather than relocating them across town, as the Board plans. The classes are a critical resource for Richmond's immigrant community, and Adult School students and the community will continue to educate the Board with a letter-writing campaign, a petition, and more. Contact Janet Johnson to get involved.


In addition, RPA Schools Action Team co-chairs Michael Beer and Peter Chau have been organizing to foster a comprehensive Full Service Community School at a Richmond school site.  A group of progressive educators, parents and academics are working on a budget-neutral proposal to create a formal partnership between the school district and the City of Richmond. Their goal is to build a collaboration that will focus city resources and community engagement in one demonstration school to improve proficiency outcomes while simultaneously creating and teaching a socially relevant, academically engaging curriculum. 


The RPA Schools Action Team meets on the second Tuesday of the month, 4:30–6:00 PM at the Bobby Bowens Center, 2540 Macdonald Ave. Please join and stay tuned for more progressive action on education!  

[Photo: Martinez and Wilson Elementary School students at a March 2017 WCCUSD meeting, courtesy of Mike Parker]
Wednesday, 4/26, 11am (Sacramento)
Rally and March to support Healthy California Act


As our friends at Healthy California put it: “The healthcare reform roller coaster careening out of Washington DC is creating uncertainty and insecurity, and every community of our country cries out for a solution that pulls the stop switch. We’re at a high point, so we should celebrate the victory to protect the coverage expansions of the ACA. And we must recognize the imperative to fix the underlying issues of cost and access. California can offer the solution to the GOP path to pain and suffering by implementing SB 562, the Healthy California Act, which is a state Medicare for All-like program.”


The first vote on the Healthy California Act, SB 562 (Lara & Atkins) will be on April 26th.


Please join us for a rally, march and then pack the room to show that we urgently need to move SB 562 forward and guarantee healthcare for all in California!


-       11am Rally

-       12:15pm March to the Capitol

-       1:30 pm Hearing in Senate Health (plan to stay as long as it takes to get a Yes vote!!!)


Bus pick ups will be leaving from many locations, including Berkeley (Corner of Adeline and Ashby; leaves at 8:20am), Martinez (Home Depot parking lot: 1037 Arnold Dr.; leaves at 8:15am) and Oakland (pick up location is the corner of 22nd St. & Kaiser Plaza; leaves at 8:15am)!


You must RSVP here for a seat: www.goo.gl/VIwz1x


For details see this Facebook event.

Thursday, 4/27, 5pm
Immigrants' Know Your Rights workshop

In light of the Trump Administration’s continued hostility towards immigrants, community and public interest groups in Richmond continue to offer resources to our immigrant community. The United Teachers of Richmond, in cooperation with other organizations are offering two Know Your Rights workshops in the next month.


Please spread the word about these upcoming opportunities on April 27 and May 11th.


And if you are interested in joining the RPA Immigration Action Team, please contact Sharron SK Williams

Saturday, 5/6, 9am
Join RPA at the Cinco de Mayo parade!


Let’s have some fun on Cinco de Mayo and bring our RPA solidarity to the Latino community.


Context is everything. This year, under Trump and hate, solidarity is needed more than ever. Please join with the RPA to march together during this year's Cinco de Mayo parade under a banner reading, “Richmond Says NO to Trump. Richmond Progressive Alliance”


Meet on Saturday May 6th at 9:00 at the parking lot between Barrett Ave and Nevin Ave, and between 24th and 25th streets.


The event kicks off with a parade beginning on Barett Avenue in Richmond at 10 am. The parade follows along the 23rd street route and turns right onto Church Lane before ending at the St. Paul’s schoolyard located at 1825 Church Lane in San Pablo, where a family festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.


-       Bring your own individual signs and messages of love and embrace to immigrants and the Latino Community.

-       Wear your RPA t-shirts

-       We’ll have cards with positive messages from the RPA in Spanish for distribution.

-       Please don’t throw candy at people. Bring flowers if you want to give something away.

Photo credit: ep_jhu courtesy of Flckr
Read all about it!
Interview about the RPA in Counterpunch

The following is an excerpt from the end of a great interview with Steve Early and Mike Parker. It was conducted by Michael D. Yates, the Editorial Director of Monthly Review Press, and published on April 12, 2017 in Counterpunch.


Yates: Mike and Steve, can you speculate on what will happen to the RPA and local progressive politics in the age of Trump? How will Richmond resist what his administration will almost certainly do, in too many areas to name?


Parker: Frankly, I don’t think what we have to do has changed much because Trump is in the White House. We have to be constantly prepared to defend our immigrant neighbors but this is not new. Mass deportations were taking place under Obama and Bush too, which is why Richmond became a sanctuary city more than a decade ago. Today, we definitely have to act more quickly and more intensively. But, under Trump, lots of people are rethinking politics and getting more actively involved. Nationally, we have to keep in mind that, even if Trump had lost in the Electoral College, almost half the U.S. voters were willing to support a racist, sexist, vicious, capitalist egotist for president. As Bernie tried to do in his primary campaign last year, we have to address the economic distress that led some union members and non-union workers to vote for Trump.


Early: One way that progressives in Richmond have responded to Trump’s election is by joining forces with like-minded former Bernie supporters in the post-Sanders campaign network known as Our Revolution. Last Fall, Our Revolution helped raised thousands of dollars for our two RPA city council candidates, just as Bernie did when he came to Richmond and personally campaigned for Gayle McLaughlin and her “Team Richmond” running mates in 2014. If OR is going to achieve its full potential as a force for change inside or outside the Democratic Party, it will need two, three, many RPA’s or VPP’s [Vermont Progressive Party] at its base, not just a Bernie donor list of 2.6 million, a national office staff that is very social media savvy, and lots of resulting email blasts from Washington, D.C.


The RPA formally affiliated with OR in January and is now doing outreach to other like-minded local groups in California. As Mike noted, Richmond activists have to become part of a broader progressive movement to defend past municipal gains and make real change at levels of government higher than Richmond city hall.

Read the full interview here.

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