In this post-Trump era, the story of Richmond’s grassroots progressive activism continues to inspire people far and wide. The RPA Outreach Action Team has been busy responding to numerous requests to help fledging, volunteer-based grassroots organizations take off across the state and country. The team has already made some 35 presentations to local activists, and have another 30 talks lined up, including several in the Bay Area cities (Pacifica, Albany, San Pablo and Sonoma). In May, the RPA will be hosting around 75 local progressive activists from around the region to launch a Greater East Bay Progressive Round Table. This network will unite emerging progressive grassroots organizations to share experiences and collaborate.
And speaking of capacity building, in June the Bobby Bowens Progressive Center will be hosting a day-long training session as part of the “Movement Schools for Revolutionaries” series, put on by David Cobb, one-time Green Party Presidential candidate. Many of us know David from his long-standing work to end corporate personhood. The RPA Outreach Team will be sharing Richmond’s experience. Contact Luci Riley on Facebook for more info.
The team welcomes new members who can help further the work of the group, in particular people who can edit video and do internet research. Please contact outreachteamRPA@gmail.com if you can help.
During her recent visit to California, Dr. Maryse Narcisse, Haiti's elegant and humble presidential candidate of the Fanmi Lavalas party (the party of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide), was welcomed to Richmond by progressive councilmember and former mayor Gayle McLaughlin and guests. Dr. Narcisse shared some of her experiences as a Haitian doctor and presidential candidate.
Dr. Narcisse advocates for community-based health care and education in a country where government is notorious for not working for the people, and economic conditions are the worst in the region.
With a population of 10.5 million people, 1% of the Haitian population has 45% of its wealth. Unemployment is reported at 45%, (more likely closer to 80%) and a continuous stream of Haitians flee out of the country on a path to Mexico headed to the US in search of employment.
To be a political organizer in Haiti comes at a price; no one hires you. Dr Narcisse, a highly trained public health medical doctor and a political organizer and coordinator of the Fanmi Lavalas party is excluded from working at medical institutions run by the corrupt government and the international charity organizations.
On Wednesday, California’s single payer health care bill cleared its first hurdle, moving out of the Senate Health Committee with a 5-2 vote. The Healthy California Act (SB 562) would establish a publicly run healthcare system that would cover all Californians regardless of immigration status.
The bill has significant public support and is endorsed by dozens of organizations who are part of the Healthy California Coalition (the RPA joined in January 2017); as well as California cities such as Richmond, whose City Council unanimously voted on April 18 to adopt a resolution supporting SB 562.
Among Senate and Assembly members, there is support for the single payer concept but significant reservations around how to pay for such a program. Currently economist Robert Pollin of University of Massachusetts - Amherst is preparing a financial study which should be completed in May.
Wednesday’s Committee vote was preceded by a large rally, where Senator Ricardo Lara, one of the bill’s co-authors, stated: “We want to insure that everyone has care, because this is who we are as a society. California has the courage to say it’s finally time to remove the insurance companies from the decision-making on how we get care in this country. It is time to say once and for all, that healthcare is a right, not a privilege only for those who can afford it.”
Senator Toni Atkins, co-author of SB 562, said, “California will not go back. We are not standing still. We are going forward.”
Forward and onward!
Let’s have some fun on Cinco de Mayo and bring our RPA solidarity to the Latino community.
This is an invitation to ALL MEMBERS of the RPA to march together on this special Cinco de Mayo celebration, held in Richmond on Saturday, May 6th. We will march behind an RPA sign reading:
RICHMOND SAYS NO TO TRUMP
Last month, Action Team member Gayle McLaughlin made a presentation in San Jose, where activists agreed to start a South Bay Progressive Alliance. By 2018, the group hopes to launch several local city-based alliances in the area. The group is borrowing some tips from the RPA, including staying party neutral and supporting corporate-free progressive candidates running for local office. Gayle McLaughlin will also be making presentations in San Diego, CA; Vallejo, CA; El Cerrito, CA; and Oakland, CA. If you have friends and allies in those cities who may be interested in attending these presentations (or who may want to schedule one in their city), please email Juan at JuanReardon@sbcglobal.net . The Action Team will accommodate speaking requests as much as possible given time and money constraints.
Finally, the Sister Progressive Alliance Action Team is looking for volunteers to help present the story and the ideas that made the RPA successful. While the speakers in the Speakers Bureau are carefully selected, there are other important tasks that need to be covered – in particular, a volunteer videographer is specially needed at this time. Please contact Juan Reardon for more information: JuanReardon@sbcglobal.net
The RPA Outreach Team continues to respond to requests from groups of activists interested in starting progressive organizations in their own cities. March was as busy as ever. On March 10, Gayle McLaughlin and Juan Reardon made a presentation to a local group of progressives organizing Our Revolution San Leandro, which attracted some 10 people present from San Leandro, San Lorenzo and City of Alameda. The Team also shared the RPA story at the first meeting of the Pinole Progressive Alliance, which has a huge opportunity to elect progressives onto the Pinole City Council. The Outreach team has also continued to support the South Bay Progressive Alliance (which meets in San Jose). If you know of groups who may be interested in a presentation, please have them contact: outreachteamRPA@gmail.com.
RPA officers and a new steering committee were elected at a well attended and enthusiastic membership meeting on February 25. The new Committee consists of:
Co-coordinator - Sharron SK Williams
Co-coordinator - Marcos Bañales
Communications Chair - Sue Wilson
Membership Chair - Kabir Kapur
Office Chair - Tarnell Abbott
Treasurer - Shoji
Recording Secretary - Michelle Chan
Schools Action Team - Peter Chau
Jovanka Beckles, Nancy Combs, Ben Choi, Sung Ae Cho, Porschea Brown, Kelly Dugan, Malia Everette, Laura Garcia-Santiago,Marilyn Langlois, Paul Larudee, Juan Reardon, Ada Recinos, Carlos Taboada, Zak Wear, and Melvin Willis
Representatives of allied organizations:
Claudia Jimenez, CCC Racial Justice Coalition
Millie Cleveland, SEIU Local 1021
David Sharples, ACCE
Alyssa Kang, California Nurses Association.
Brenda Williams, Richmond Rainbow Pride
There was some momentary confusion over an error on the RPA website, which mistakenly included Eduardo Martinez as a member of the new Steering Committee. Mayor Butt cried foul in his E-Forum, citing potential violations of the Brown Act. He later published a note of clarification from Eduardo Martinez, which unfortunately was made to sound as if he stepped off the committee only after he was called out on it. In actuality, Eduardo, who had served on the previous RPA Steering Committee, immediately resigned after the November 2016 election, in order to comply with the Brown Act. He was not nominated to serve on the current Steering Committee, nor did he seek to. Current City council members serving on the RPA Steering Committee include Jovanka Beckles, Melvin Willis and Ben Choi.
Tom Butt brought up a Brown Act issue when reading the RPA’s announcement of it’s new member-elected Steering Committee. The RPA Steering Committee has known since its inception that it could never have more than three council members on it. There was an error on our website with Eduardo Martinez' name mistakenly included on the 2017 RPA Steering Committee that has since been corrected. Eduardo had been on the RPA Steering Committee prior to the 2016 election, and right after the election in November 2016, he resigned in order to comply with the Brown Act, since we now had Jovanka and two council members elect (Melvin and Ben) on it. Jovanka, Melvin and Ben were also on the nominated slate for the 2017 RPA Steering Committee. Eduardo was not.
The grand jury verdict is still fresh, and we are still processing our emotional reactions to it. Immediately, although we are not surprised, we are outraged by the decision of the grand jury in failing to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown killing in Ferguson, Missouri.
We are outraged that Prosecutor Robert McCullough could still bring a case against Darren Wilson, but he has said that he would not. We are outraged that while the protesters and sympathizers are being asked publicly to be peaceful, to remain calm, and to practice restraint and tolerance, there was no such restraint and good judgment on the part of Darren Wilson when Michael Brown attempted to surrender and was killed, allegedly in cold blood.
US Attorney General Eric Holder is quoted as saying "It does not honor his memory to engage in violence or looting." We say, it does not honor the memory of Michael Brown to let his killer go free without any serious repercussions or legal consequences. What happened in Ferguson tonight is a travesty of justice to say the least.
Black lives matter. Black lives matter in Ferguson, Missouri. Black lives matter in Richmond, California. Black lives matter everywhere.