California District Communist Party USA - Southern Region

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California District Communist Party USA - Southern Region is affiliated with the Communist Party USA.

100 years of the CP

The Southern California District of the Communist Party held its rousing regional celebration of the party’s centennial at its “Red House” on South St. Andrews Place, Sat. night, Sept. 21 2019.

The evening featured music and spoken word contributions, a short history of the party delivered by the new L.A.-based co-chair of the CPUSA, Rossana Cambron, original and classic songs of the labor movement, a group singing of “The Internationale,” greetings from friendly organizations, a raffle and fund appeal, silent auction, and a tasty dinner prepared by specially invited Oaxacan chefs.

Ismael Parra offered his ballad “Socialism’s Gonna Rise” encouraging listeners to get out the vote in 2020 in a massive movement to advance democracy. Helpfully, he circulated copies of the chorus for audience members to sing along:

Introduced by emcee Chauncey Robinson, an L.A. resident who is on the editorial staff of People's World, Cambron remarked on the historic significance that the Communist Party now has a Mexican-American co-chair (along with Joe Sims, an African American). She quickly surveyed the decades of the party’s history, touching briefly on organizations the party set up, such as International Labor Defense and the American Committee for the Protection of Foreign Born, struggles to free imprisoned labor and people’s advocates such as Angela Davis, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti, and the Scottsboro Nine, and the many movements the party led or participated in. The Communist Party, she underlined, was always integral to the broad people’s movements, never standing outside on the periphery.

In Southern California, the party fought for public housing in Chavez Ravine north of downtown L.A., which was leveled in the 1950s to make room for Dodger Stadium. Communists organized voter drives to elect the first African-American and Mexican-American city council members, county commissioners, and U.S. representatives. And Communists were instrumental in international solidarity movements opposing apartheid in South Africa, and supporting liberation struggles in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

“The best is yet to come,” Cambron promised. The CPUSA has fully embraced the Green New Deal and has committed its resources and members to realize the legislative and societal goals to save the planet from self-destruction. She spoke of the many local activities that members and friends of the party engage in, including the Pachamama garden, an art gallery, the annual Day of the Dead festival, activism on the health care front, with a Spanish-speaking party club in the lead on that, internet content production, a sewing class to recycle clothing into new wearables, and classes on Marxist theory in both English and Spanish.

On the subject of elections, Cambron emphasized that the CPUSA does not endorse candidates, but rather focuses on the issues the party cares about. “The question,” she explained, “is which candidate will create the most favorable climate for our movement to progress. It’s not an emotional decision, but a strategic one.”

The most important point she could leave with her audience (about 40 in attendance, several from the San Diego area) was really quite simple: “Build unity.” Focus on the greater long-term vision and overcome the individual and personal issues and biases that stand in the way of ever greater collective action. Needless to say, in the run-up to the 2020 election, there is nothing so important as this. Cambron illustrated her talk with a slide show of photos of important personalities and events in party history both nationally and locally.

Greetings from other organizations followed, including Morena, the party of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, and the local branch of the national secular Jewish organization Arbeter Ring/Workmen's Circle.

Jeanette Charles served very capably as a bilingual translator, effortlessly (so it seemed!) rendering English into Spanish and Spanish into English for the multilingual audience.

Performer Anthony Bucci sang several class-conscious songs, a couple of his own, one by Joe Hill, and another by Woody Guthrie (the evergreen “This Land is Your Land” with all the verses.)

The announced guest speaker, the Cuban lecturer Dr. Jourdy James Heredia, was unable to come to the United States in the immediate wake of the Trump administration’s expulsion of two Cuban delegates to the United Nations, but she sent a pair of short videos with greetings and appreciation to the CPUSA on its centennial, and a brief analysis of the current crisis Cuba and its mutually supportive state Venezuela are undergoing due to the U.S. blockade. Her theme called for heightened international solidarity.

Paul Roberson gave a moving, personal fundraising pitch that focused on his own path toward political enlightenment. His story could have been, adjusting details for time, place, and circumstances, the story of millions of others who have found in activism for socialism a meaningful search for justice and answers to the problems of life under capitalism.

Teresa del Carmen Gonzalez offered a presentation on Emma Tenayuca (1916-99), a Tejana activist woman who early on started organizing factory workers in pecan shelling, cigar making, and garment manufacture. She was a proud Communist, hounded out of San Antonio in the late 1930s for her militancy, who found her way to the San Francisco Bay Area and earned degrees in teaching. She later returned to Texas and concentrated on teaching immigrant children, one of what Gonzalez calls “the unsung heroes and heroines” on our movement.

The silent auction, organized and mounted by People’s World writer and editor Eric Gordon, featured donated items such as revolutionary prints from Vietnam, authentic Kachina dolls from the American Southwest, stuffed animals, books, and artwork. Over dinner, winners of the raffle won party pins and Marxist books. Animated conversations continued into the night.[1]

Sao Paolo Forum meeting

On February 17, 2002 Armando Ramirez gave a report at the Los Angeles Workers' Center, under the auspices of the California District Communist Party USA - Southern Region, on the recent Sao Paolo Forum in Cuba.[2]

2003 PWW fundraiser

The war in Iraq, like conflicts in which the United States has been engaged for more than a century, is not about spreading democracy but global corporate expansionism, author Michael Parenti told a standing-room-only crowd at a fund-raiser for the Peoples Weekly World/

Nuestro Mundo held Oct. 13 here.

Over 250 people packed the UNITE! union hall to hear Parenti speak on “Democracy vs. U.S. World Domination.”

Despite the recent recall election victory for Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, the audience showed that the people’s fighting spirit and hunger for progressive views are not curbed. The event raised $4,700 for the PWW.[3]

"Train of justice"

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July 29, 2011, SoCal Los Angeles Communist Party USA "Welcoming our new members who have chosen to board the train of justice".

Signed by; Rossana Cambron, Mario Brito, Juan Lopez, Armando Ramirez, Nelson Urrutia, Rafael Zamarron-Brito, Scott Patrick, Leandro Della Piana, Emily Clarida, Sam Webb, Michelle Henrickson, Richard Castro, Jr., John Bachtell and Nicholas James.

Clean Carwash event

What do hip hop and labor have in common? If you ask the Los Angeles-based hip hop artists the Inner City Dwellers, hip hop and labor have a similar message. Labor is the voice for the working class and community hip hop is the voice for the disenfranchised and working poor. According to Fuerza Mexica (Cesar Castrejon), one of the Inner City Dwellers said "We are artists who won't turn our backs on workers and we see labor as an organization that won't turn its back on the workers."

The People's World luncheon honoring workers in the struggle was held March 20 at the Clean Carwash Workers Center, home of the Carwasheros organizing campaign in South Central Los Angeles. The Inner City Dwellers opened the People's World luncheon in Los Angeles with a spirited bi-lingual rap about the plight of hard working families. Their message and performance is a "Love song to the working people," according to Andres Rivera, one of three members performing at the event. Rivera, Jorge Cutera along with Cesar Castrejon make up this community-based hip hop group. This hip hop performance set the tone for the entire afternoon.

Eric Gordon, union member with the National Writers Union (NWU), staff writer and editor with the People's World welcomed the audience, speakers and introduced Rossana Cambron, People's World staff writer/videographer and Southern California District leader.

Cambron greeted participants at the People's World fundraising event and introduced the program, starting with a cultural presentation. "This is not entertainment because art, music and poetry need to be an important part in raising awareness in our communities," said Cambron.

"We couldn't have gotten here without you," said Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. "Labor and community supporters worked hard to raise the wage in Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Pasadena and hopefully West Los Angeles." Hicks went on to say that 2015 was the year for Raise the Wage. The new campaign for 2016 is Build Better L.A., a campaign to create more affordable housing. Union members are currently collecting signatures to get Build Better L.A.'s affordable housing and quality jobs on the November 2016 ballot in Los Angeles.

Hicks presented his perspective on the upcoming national elections before welcoming keynote speaker MaryBe McMillan, Secretary Treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO. Hicks told the audience that unfortunately the current presidential election is divisive and the discourse has fallen to a low level. His message was that it will take getting out more votes if we want to win.

MaryBe McMillan expressed the need to organize one-by-one especially in a right to work state such as North Carolina. In a thoughtful assessment of organizing in the south, McMillan said: "If you want a glimpse into the future of the United States, look to the South." She went on: "I preach the gospel: We must organize. We must organize in the South. Why the South? Because the South is a reflection of our nation's future. The South is not a backward state as some think. There is a clear reason why the South is for the most part a right to work state. Right to work must not mean right of surrender. That is why a Southern campaign needs to be put in place by labor."

The afternoon's highlight was the honoring of workers who are engaged in struggle. El Super workers, who are organizing with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW Local 770), called for a boycott of El Super markets in 2015. El Super market employees are paid low wages and are predominantly Latino workers. People's World recognized two workers who risked their livelihood to bring justice and respect for all El Super workers; Fermin Rodriguez and Guadalupe Amador were honored.

Walmart workers also stood up against a major corporation that makes billions in profit. Workers have been retaliated against, threatened and spied upon. This has made their struggle for increase wages, affordable health care and other workplace issues difficult. Walmart workers have won some victories but the struggle continues. People's World honorees included: Denise Barlage, Evelin Cruz and Venanzi Luna.

The Clean Carwash Campaign is a coalition supported by the United Steel Workers (USW), the AFL-CIO and more than 100 community, faith and labor organizations in Los Angeles. Many carwash workers are immigrants. People's World honored Fausto Hernandez and those workers who have dedicated their time to organizing.

The People's World event ended with another wonderful cultural presentation by Ismael Parra, a musician and union/community activist. The Inner City Dwellers will be releasing an all-Spanish hip hop CD in the fall.[4]

References

  1. [https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/los-angeles-honors-and-celebrates-communist-partys-100th-anniversary/ PW Los Angeles honors and celebrates Communist Party’s 100th anniversary September 24, 2019 2:35 PM CDT BY SPECIAL TO PEOPLE’S WORLD]
  2. PW, Feb. 9, 2002, page 9
  3. PW Raising spirits and funds from coast to coast, December 19 2003
  4. We won't turn our backs on workers by: David Trujillo March 22 2016