Caroli Mullen

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Caroli Mullen

Caroli Mullen , died March 8, 2013, in Baltimore, Maryland after a two-year bout with cancer.[1]


Born in Bethlehem, Penn., in 1942, Mullen's family moved to New York State and later settled in Palo Alto, California.

As a youngster, she was "always the organizer," according to her sister, Nancy Siegel. At seven, and in 10th grade she challenged her high school dress code by wearing sandals to school ... and won![2]


Together with singer-activist Joan Baez, she organized the "Palo Alto Youth for Peace" with the aim of banning nuclear weapons. At 16, she traveled to Wyoming to protest a nuclear test site. When the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) held a hearing in San Francisco to investigate "communist influences" in the peace movement, Mullen was among scores of young people arrested for protesting at City Hall, when police used water hoses to clear the hallways.

That arrest caused Mullen to lose a paid scholarship to San Francisco State University.

In college, Mullen joined the WEB DuBois Clubs of America, a youth group affiliated with the Communist Party USA. Former People's World editor Tim Wheeler remembers her from 1967 when she served as an intern for the Daily Worker newspaper.

Mullen was a delegate to a World Festival of Youth and Students. While working on her advanced degree abroad, she met Les Roth in London, who was to become her companion and husband of over 40 years. At the time Roth was office manager in the London office of the Communist Party.

In 1973, she helped establish and contributed to a British Marxist women's liberation magazine called the "Red Rag," reader supported and produced entirely by women.[3]

Back to the US

Mullen and Roth moved to San Francisco in the 1970s and settled in Maryland in 1987. She was an environmentalist and an active member of the Sierra Club of Maryland. In 2009, she was instrumental in facilitating a coalition of health care reform advocates for a large "public option" rally at the historic Senator Theater in northeast Baltimore. In 2010, she was an outspoken voice in the coalition protesting the building of a Walmart store in the Remington community of north-central Baltimore.

Mullen worked as a policy analyst at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a government agency, until her retirement.[4]

Communist Party

At the time of her death she was a member of the Northeast Baltimore Club of the Maryland Communist Party. She rejoined the party a number of years ago after leaving in the 1990s, as a supporter of the Committees of Correspondence.[5]

Communist Party tribute

In July 2007, the Communist Party USA paper Peoples World published a tribute "We salute Joyce Wheeler" to retiring Baltimore public school teacher and Communist Party member Joyce Wheeler. Caroli Mullen signed the tribute page. Most of the more than 100 signatories were identified Party members.[6]

Healthcare rally

In October 2009, Several hundred community and labor activists rallied at the historic Senator Theater, Baltimore, demanding that Congress pass heath care reform that includes a public option.

A dozen speakers, including Congressman Elijah Cummings, Maryland AFL-CIO president Fred Mason and Baltimore NAACP president "Doc" Cheatham, called on Congress to act now.

The event was chaired by City Councilman Bill Henry.

In her remarks, event organizer Caroli Mullen targeted "moderate" Congress people who were sitting on the fence, telling the audience that "Democrats better get some spine,"

According to Mullen, reform must be based on the premise that health care is a right, not a privilege.

Mullen told the World how the event was conceived. "We were literally sitting around the kitchen talking about how the 'tea-baggers' were getting publicity by disrupting town hall meetings. The media was ignoring the majority of us who favor reform. We needed to stage a public event to let Congress know Baltimore supported a public option."

Mullen said that while she supports a public option, a single-payer system was the best way to provide comprehensive, universal care.

According to Dr. Joseph Adams, a primary care physician and leader, the insurance industry has four lobbyists in Washington for every member of Congress.

Congressman Cummings pointed out that two Maryland companies - BlueCross-BlueShield and United Heathcare, control 80% of the private health care market.

Cummings said "what good is having choice if you can't afford it? A public option gives us real choice because it will bring down costs."[7]