Born 1912 Jefferson, Alabama, granddaughter of slaves, Maudelle V. Miller left her rural Arkansas home for California in the middle of World War II, and before long she was campaigning for fair housing and other civil rights for African Americans.
Recruiting Ron Dellums
Ron Dellums gave up a scholarship to work on a Ph.D at Brandeis University and agreed to run for Berkeley City Council.
He went on to serve 28 years in Congress in a career marked by a steadfast pacifism, leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus and tenure as the first African American to chair the powerful House Armed Services Committee.
Partly at Shirek's suggestion, he had been corralled into a meeting of black leaders in Berkeley seeking a candidate for the council.
He didn't want to run and his name was about to be erased from the list of possibilities on the blackboard after he told the group, "I feel very strongly about things. I don't think politics is ready for me, and I'm not ready for politics." At that moment a woman with "a beautiful gray Afro" who hadn't said much all evening asked Dellums: "Would you run on your own terms?"
"That moment changed my life," said Dellums,"That woman was testing my integrity. "
Dellums couldn't say no and gave a noncommittal answer about political idealism. Shirek told the group to keep his name on the chalk board and that he had her vote. Dellums won the endorsement and the seat.
Berkeley City Council
In 1984, the leftist Berkeley Citizens Action party was having its nominating convention. Shirek was on the list of possible candidates but had not shown up as the packed auditorium waited.
The man who was later her aide, Mike Berkowitz, set out on a desperate search and found her cleaning the house of an elderly resident. "Maudelle, you've got to come!" he recalled telling her. "It's the nominating convention!"
"Yes," she replied, "but I've got to finish cleaning these floors."
In 2000 Shirek was elected to her eigth term on the Berkeley City Council, receiving 73.7 percent of the vote, the largest margin of victory of all four council races on the ballot.
Maudelle Shirek has traveled to Africa, Moscow, Prague, Nicaragua and Cuba, where she dined with Fidel Castro.
She was 77 when she joined the first delegation from North America to visit the newly occupied Palestinian territories in protest of Israeli policies there.
"Everybody was 35 to 40 years younger than Maudelle," recalled the trip's organizer, Barbara Lubin, director of the Berkeley-based Middle East Childrens Alliance. "She was the only one who never fell asleep. She was out in front of all of us."
Shirek was also on the front line when she and other members of the delegation were arrested for chaining themselves to the fence of the Pennsylvania factory that made the tear gas used on the Palestinians.
Arrested with Angela
South Africa benefit
On January 17 1986, a benefit concert was held at Oakland's Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, for the National Emergency Fund of the South African Council of Churches.
- Master of Ceremonies:Honorable Willie Brown
- Keynote Speaker: Bishop Desmond Tutu
- Guest Speaker: Amadou- Mahtar M'Bow Diredor General of UNESCO
Dinner Committee Members included Hon. Alan Cranston, Hon. Leo McCarthy, Hon. Barbara Boxer, Hon. Sala Burton, Hon. Ron Dellums (a DSA member), Hon. Don Edwards, Hon. Tom Lantos Hon. George Miller, Jr. Hon. Norman Mineta, Hon. Pete Stark, Hon. Willie Brown, plus Democratic Socialists of America members Julian Bond, Nancy Skinner, Harry Britt, John Henning, Adam Hochschild, Frances Moore Lappe, Stanley Sheinbaum, Communist Party USA affiliates Wilson Riles, Jr., Maudelle Shirek, Al Lannon, and Irving Sarnoff, and radical socialists Julianne Malveaux, Drummond Pike, John George, Peter Yarrow and actor/activist Sidney Poitier.
CoC National Conference endorser
In 1992 Maudelle Shirek, Berkeley City Council endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.
CoC National Coordinating Committee
The following are listed in order of votes they received as members of the Committees of Correspondence National Coordinating Committee, elected at the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19, 1992.:
- Angela Davis, SF
- Gus Newport, Berkeley
- Elizabeth Martinez, SF
- Alva Buxenbaum, NY
- Leslie Cagan, NY
- Peter Camejo, Alameda, CA
- Giuliana Milanese, SF
- Robert Chacanaca, Freedom, CA
- Mildred Williamson, Chicago
- Barry Cohen, NY
- Mark Solomon, Boston
- Barbara Lee, Sacramento
- Maudelle Shirek, Berkeley
- Raahi Reddy, New Brunswick, NJ
- Margy Wilkinson, Berkeley
- Yvonne Golden, Florida
- Mary Idosidis, Mill Valley, CA
- Pat Fry, Detroit
- Marty Price, Oakland
- Frances Beal, Oakland
- Marshall Garcia, NY
- Betty Kano, Berkeley
- Michael Myerson, NY
- Sharon Stewart, LA
- Carmen Rumbaut, San Antonio
- Maurice Jackson, Washington, D.C.
- Geoffrey Jacques, NY
- Arthur Kinoy, Montclair, NJ
- Melinda Brown, LA
- Leslie Shaheen, NY
Employed CoC leader
People's Weekly World Banquet 1996
Sponsors of the 1996 Bay area People's Weekly World banquet, at His Lordships, Berkeley Marina, included Oakland City Council members Ignacio de la Fuente, Sheila Jordan and John Russo, Berkeley City Council members Maudelle Shirek, Linda Maio and Dona Spring, San Francisco Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Sue Bierman, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, and California State Assemblyman John L. Burton.
Honored were 5 labor leaders - Walter Johnson, Owen Marron, Shirley Ware of SEIU, Abba Ramos of the ILWU and Francisco Martin del Campo of the San Francisco labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
People's Weekly World Banquet 1997
Elected officials attending the the 1997 Bay area People's Weekly World banquet, at His Lordships, Berkeley Marina, included State Senator Barbara Lee Assemblywoman Liz Figueroa, Alemada County Board of Supervisors president Keith Carson and Berkeley vice mayor and City Council member Maudelle Shirek..
Honored were Brian McWilliams, Santa Cruz County Central Labor Council, Amy Dean, South Bay Labor Council, Wilson Riles, Jr. regional director AFSC and Art Rodriguez of the National Labor Community Coalition for Public Works Jobs.
On may 9, 1998, the Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World held a centennial festive tribute celebrating the life of Paul Robeson. Speakers and performers included Communist Party vice chair Jarvis Tyner, co-hair , retired ILWU international rep. Abba Ramos, co-chair communist Marilyn Bechtel, Owen Marron, Alameda Central Labor Council, Martin del Campo, San Francisco Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Berkeley mayor Maudelle Shirek, dancer Jackie Artman, Northern California Young Communist League co-chair Amie Fishman, Joe Johnson, trade unionist and personal friend of Robeson, poet Dr. Tolbert J. Small, and singers Anthony J. Smith and David Winters (American Federation of Musicians).
Honored at Communist Party fund raiser
- Maudelle Shirek Vice Mayor, Berkeley
- Cindy Chavez, San Jose City Council member
- Ruth Holbrook, President Sacramento Central Labor Council
- Lawrence Thibeaux, ILWU Local 10
- Daniel HoSang, Executive Director People United for a Better Oakland
2002 PWW banquet
In a spirited tribute, the Northern California People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo banquet Oct. 13 honored “the heroes and heroines of the struggle against corporate greed,” and called for a big turnout against Republican “Bush-clones” in the Nov. 5 election. The banquet raised $8,000 for the PWW fund drive.
In her opening, Berkeley Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek spoke of the growing movements in solidarity with West Coast port workers and against war. “So there is hope,” she said, “and a new movement that we must help nurture and grow.”
That movement includes the bloc in Congress that voted against the Bush war resolution, and those who supported Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) peace resolution.
The banquet honored the Coalition for Workers Rights , Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Locals 2 and 2850, Sacramento Living Wage Campaign and Father Bill O’Donnell, known as “labor’s priest.” Each received certificates from Rep. Lee, in whose district the event took place, and from Wilma Chan, majority leader in the California Assembly, as well as from PWW/Nuestro Mundo. Elliott Kenin and the “Spirit of ’29” traditional jazz band and singer/songwriter Anthony J. Smith added to the upbeat spirit.
- EBONY & IVORY invite you to attend a dinner benefit for theNational Emergency Fund of the South African Council of Churches
- CCDS Background
- Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
- CoC National committee meeting, January 7-9, 1994, New York minutes
- Black Liberation in Conservative America (M. Marable) page 66
- PWW, Sep. 21 1996 page 2
- PWW, Dec.6 1997 page 2
- PWW Tribute celebrates Robeson's impact today, May 23, 1998
- Peoples Weekly World, September 11, 1999
- , N. Calif. PWW call: Unity against Bush clones, by: Marilyn Bechtel October 25 2002