Bill Gallegos

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Bill Gallegos


Bill Gallegos has roots in the Chicana/o struggle in Southern California going back to the late 1960s. Today he works around environmental justice and other issues critical to communities of color. Bill Gallegos is a member of the Los Angeles district of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization[1].

Gallegos first became active in the 1960’s with the Crusade for Justice, a Chicano civil rights organization. He has also been a labor, campus, and community organizer.[2]

Early life, radicalization

Bill Gallegos has been an activist since the 1960s, when he became involved in Crusade for Justice, a revolutionary Chicano nationalist organization. He has since emerged as a leading socialist environmental justice activist, and is the former executive director of Communities for a Better Environment. He was born in Pueblo, Colorado where his family had lived for generations as campesinos in Greater Mexico. As local families lost their land and were colonized by the expanding United States, they went to work in the mines that were developed on their former lands. Several of Gallegos’s relatives, including his grandfather, died from Black Lung. Thus from an early age the intersection of class, conquest, and ecology were part of Gallegos’s life.

Both his parents served in the Second World War (his mom was a nurse) and through the GI Bill his dad was able to become an accountant, and the family moved to the barrios of north Denver. For Gallegos it was taking a Chicano Studies class in 1969 and hearing Rodofo Corky Gonzales speak. “I realized that my family history was a part of our people’s history and struggle and that our freedom could only be complete when we ended capitalism and constructed a socialist system that would ‘flip the script’ on the U.S. history of genocide, enslavement, colonialism, racism and national oppression.” As the interview details, Bill’s life took him from factory to fields to community.[3]

Revolutionary pedigree

Bill Gallegos was an activist in the Chicano Movement who had been attracted to that movement’s left wing (the Crusade for Justice, Brown Berets (of which he was a member), La Raza Unida Party) and helped to form the August 29th Movement (ATM), the first primarily Chicano communist organization in the US. Later he participated in the creation of the League of Revolutionary Struggle, one of the main New Communist organizations, with probably the largest concentration (80%) of members of color.[4]

August 29th Movement

Bill Gallegos first met Yvonne De Los Santos in 1974, when a "bunch of pretty raggedy Chicanos and Chicanas formed the August 29th Movement (Marxist-Leninist), the first revolutionary socialist organization to emerge from the Chican@ Liberation Struggle". The little town of Oxnard produced a whole district of ATM members including Yvonne, Connie Valdez, Beto Flores, and Jenaro Valdez.[5]

League of Revolutionary Struggle

Bill Gallegos and Carolyn Wong, were in 1981 spokespersons for the Central Committee of the League of Revolutionary Struggle.[6]

Unity Editor

In 1989 Bill Gallegos was Editor of Unity, newspaper of the League of Revolutionary Struggle.

Committees of Correspondence

At the Committees of Correspondence conference, Berkeley California, July 17-19, 1992. Bill Gallegos was a candidate[7]for the CoC National Coordinating Committee-Los Angeles, writer, educator, community activist.

CrossRoads

In the mid 1990s Gallegos was[8]a contributing editor to Oakland based Institute for Social and Economic Studies- sponsor of CrossRoads magazine, which sought to promote dialogue and building new alliances among progressives and leftists... and to bring diverse Marxist and socialist traditions to bear while exploring new strategies and directions for the progressive political movements.

Socialists organize to "challenge for power" in Los Angeles

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On March 11, 1998, Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America leader Steve Tarzynski wrote an email to another Los Angeles DSA leader Harold Meyerson.

Tarzynski listed 25 people he thought should be on an "A-list" of "25 or so leaders/activists/intellectuals and/or "eminent persons" who would gather periodically to theorize/strategize about how to rebuild a progressive movement in our metropolitan area that could challenge for power."

Tarzynski listed himself, Harold Meyerson, Karen Bass, Sylvia Castillo, Gary Phillips, Joe Hicks, Richard Rothstein, Steve Cancian, Larry Frank, Torie Osborn, Rudy Acuna, Aris Anagnos, Abby Arnold, Carl Boggs, Blase Bonpane, Rick Brown, Stanley Sheinbaum, Alice Callahan, Jim Conn, Peter Dreier, Maria Elena Durazo, Miguel Contreras, Mike Davis, Bill Gallegos, Bob Gottlieb, Kent Wong, Russell Jacoby, Bong Hwan Kim, Paula Litt (and Barry Litt, with a question mark), Peter Olney, Derek Shearer, Clancy Sigal and Anthony Thigpenn.

Included in a suggested elected officials sub-group were Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Romero, Jackie Goldberg, Gil Cedillo, Tom Hayden, Antonio Villaraigosa, Paul Rosenstein and Congressmen Xavier Becerra, Henry Waxman and Maxine Waters.

Tarzynski went on to write "I think we should limit the group to 25 max, otherwise group dynamics begins to break down....As i said, I would like this to take place in a nice place with good food and drink...it should properly be an all day event."

Forward Motion

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In 1994 Rukiya Dillahunt, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Bill Gallegos, Karega Hart, Ed Hunt, Jamala Rogers, Juliet Ucelli, Bob Peterson, Meizhu Lui were guest editors of the editorial collective of Forward Motion, the journal of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.[9]

In 1996 Elly Leary, Bob Peterson, Meizhu Lui, Rukiya Dillahunt, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Bill Gallegos, Karega Hart, Ed Hunt, Scott Kurashige, Jamala Rogers were contributing editors to Forward Motion, the journal of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.[10]

Resist Prop 187

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Freedom Road Socialist Organization's Forward Motion published an article in their January 1995 issue from Lisa Duran, Bill Gallegos, Eric Mann, and Glenn Omatsu "Prop 187 - where do we go from here?"

FRSO/SON

In 1994, Bill Gallegos was on the Chicano Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization/Socialist Organizing Network.[11]

Serve the People Conference

The 1998 Serve the People Conference on Asian American Community Activism featured a mix of roundtable discussions, designed to provoke thought and debate on "large" questions facing all activists, and workshops and panels designed for activists in similar areas of work to open lines of communication with one another and to share lessons garnered through struggle. The choice of speakers was based primarily on their grassroots community work but also on concerns to have diverse geographic, ethnic, gender, and generational representation. A highlight of the conference was the opening panel on "Interracial Unity and the Struggle for Liberation," in which longtime, history-making activists Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama espoused upon why they have remained committed to revolutionary politics for decades.

With years of dedication to the Black Freedom Movement, both Boggs and Kochiyama served as living examples of the importance of unity among people of color. Boggs shared theoretical and practical insights from her highly praised autobiography Living for Change, which was a popular seller at the conference. Kochiyama brought the capacity crowd to its feet with her impassioned call to "Serve the people at the bottom... the people at the top don’t need your help!" They were joined by local activists Leon Watson and Bill Gallegos, veterans of the African American and Chicano movements, respectively. This inspirational opening plenary served to impart a radical tone to the proceedings and to bring out the best in participants, allowing the conference to maintain a pleasantly non-sectarian atmosphere throughout. The next morning, veteran activists of numerous since-dissolved cadre organizations engaged in a friendly yet critical conversation on the legacy of the Asian American Movement with some admittedly having not made contact with one another for upwards of 25 years. Overall, "Serve the People" provided an opportunity to interact with some of the most prominet community activists from around the country including Anannya Bhattacharjee of New York’s Workers Awaaz, Debbie Wei of Philadelphia’s Asian Americans United, Eric Mar of the Bay Area’s Asian Pacific Islanders for Community Empowerment, Jane Bai of New York’s Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, Joe Navidad of BAYAN-International, Kent Wong of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Meizhu Lui of Boston’s Health Care for All, Miriam Ching Louie of Berkeley’s Women of Color Resource Center.[12]

FRSO

In the late 2000s Bill Gallegos was Coordinator of the Oppressed Nationalities Commission of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization[13].

Sacramento Marxist School

On Dec 18 2003 Bill Gallegos lectured at the Sacramento Marxist School on How Chicano Liberation can Help Defeat U.S. Imperialism.[14]

"Strategies For Revolutionary Change"

Los Angeles, March 9, 2004? "Strategies For Revolutionary Change:An Inter-Generational Dialogue and Debate with Six Revolutionary Activists and Thinkers"

  • Max Elbaum: Given New Conditions, What Should We Carry Over from the Past, and What Has To Be Left Behind?
  • Warren Mar: One Struggle, Many Fronts : Linking the Anti-War Movement with Our Struggles at Home: Why the Global South Leads the Way!
  • Bill Gallegos: Why a Chicano Revolutionary Became a Communist, Why We Still Need Revolutionary Organization: What It Could Look Like
  • Lian Hurst Mann: "Women Hold Up Half The Sky": In the Workplace, in Communities, & at Home: What We Want to Teach Our Daughters about Imperialism
  • Manuel Criollo: In Search of an Anti-Racist/Anti-Imperialist Left in a Right Wing Era; The Challenges and Strategies for a New Generation!
  • Simmi Gandhi: Building for a Future of Grassroots Democracy as We Organize Our Fights Today; Models, Reflections and Necessary Questions for Today.[15]

Open letter to Andy Stern

On May 1 2008, Bill Gallegos, of Communities for a Better Environment signed an open letter to SEIU president Andy Stern in protest at SEIU move to force its local United Healthcare Workers into trusteeship.

"We are writing to express our deep concern about SEIU's threatened trusteeship over its third largest local, United Healthcare Workers (UHW). We believe that there must always be room within organized labor for legitimate and principled dissent, if our movement is to survive and grow. Putting UHW under trusteeship would send a very troubling message and be viewed, by many, as a sign that internal democracy is not valued or tolerated within SEIU. In our view, this would have negative consequences for the workers directly affected, the SEIU itself, and the labor movement as a whole. We strongly urge you to avoid such a tragedy."

USSF

At the United States Social Forum in Detroit , a forum was held "Presente! Left Movement Veterans Discuss the Path to Power and the Role of the Left in the US" June 24th from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at Cobo Hall.

Description: Long-time activists Bill Gallegos, Lian Hurst Mann, Chokwe Lumumba, Jane Slaughter, Linda Burnham, and Pam Tau Lee join other Leftists that have plied their trade for over 30 years in an urgent discussion on the role of the left in today’s social movements. [16]

It was sponsored by the Freedom Road Socialist Organization/OSCL.[17]

Endorsing Torie Osborn

In 2011, former New American Movement member Torie Osborn, was a candidate for California's new vacant 50th Assembly District.[18]

Endorsements included;

Communities for a Better Environment

Bill Gallegos is Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment. one of the leading environmental justice organizations in the country. Since becoming executive director at CBE, the organization has achieved landmark regulation of oil refinery flaring (the highly toxic practice of burning off excess gases into the air), and in leading local campaigns that could have a significant impact in reducing greenhouse gases and co-pollutants, improving public health, and advancing the transformation to clean alternative energy.

Bill Gallegos is currently a member of the California Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, which is advising the state on how to achieve the ambitious goals of the state’s historic greenhouse gas legislation in a way that safeguards and improves the health and environment of low income and communities of color.[20]

Earth Day 2011

"False Solutions, such as "Clean Coal," harm communities on the front lines of extraction".

This event took place at CARECEN in Los Angeles, featuring Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), Ash-Lee Henderson, Mountain Justice, and Bill Gallegos (Communities for a Better Environment). Hosted by Cindy Wiesner (Grassroots Global Justice Alliance - and Tammy Bang Luu (The Strategy Center). Second Panel: Sunyoung Yang, and others on community-based real solutions.[21]

Mapping Socialist Strategies

Mapping Socialist Strategies was convened from August 1-4 in Briarcliff Manor, NY, by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office. It brang together 100 influential progressives and leftists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe for an “un-conference” on socialist strategies.

Attendees included Bill Gallegos.

Ear to the Ground Project

Ear to the Ground Project;

We would like to express our deep respect and appreciation for everyone who took the time to talk with us, and the organizations that generously hosted us during our travels. Interviews were confidential, but the following people have agreed to have their names listed for this publication:

Most of those listed were connected to Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Bill Gallegos was among those on the list. [22]

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those invited, on Facebook included Bill Gallegos.[23]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward

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Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

Those invited, on Facebook included Bill Gallegos.[24]

References