Connecticut Communist Party

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Connecticut Communist Party is affiliated to the Communist Party USA.


Tribute to Art Perlo

Community residents, comrades, elected officials, friends, and youth all gathered in front of Troup School New Haven CT on Feb. 26 2022 with signs and banners in hand, eagerly waiting to participate in the youth march kickoff of “Teaching Black History – Making Good Trouble,” the 48th annual Black History Celebration hosted by Connecticut People's World, which also featured a virtual event the following day.

New Haven Young Communist League chair Manuel Camacho had proposed that the youth-led march/bike/car caravan be held in honor of Art Perlo’s legacy for racial and social justice after he passed away in December, a beloved activist and leader in his neighborhood, his union, and in the Communist Party. Everyone attending the weekend’s events received a button with a drawing of Art Perlo by Jahmal Henderson, as well as posters of women figures in the African American freedom struggle.

The gathering crowd was greeted and welcomed on the school’s entrance steps by Ward 24 Alder Evette Hamilton, with a tribute to Art’s role as ward co-chair and dedicated organizer; she called him her “gentle giant.” She said Art “made an impact no matter where he went. We are here making good trouble and continuing his legacy.”

Hamilton read a message from Frank Douglass, Ward 2 Alder who was a steward in Local 35 Unite Here and worked with Art over many years “on some of the most impactful campaigns to secure union contracts, issues, and accomplishments.” Douglass said that Art “lives on in each of us on the ground making equality most important to everyday lives.“


Randall Furlow, Ward 24 co-chair, then presented a citation from the New Haven Board of Alders detailing Art Perlo’s “unwavering commitment to equality, peace, social justice, and to end exploitation to make this world a better place.” In response, Perlo’s wife and Communist Party leader Joelle Fishman gave a passionate call to action, encouraging everyone present to stay involved the fight and carry on Art’s work and legacy.


YCL leaders Jennifer Graham and Camacho led off the half-mile youth march loudly chanting “S.T.O.P. the violence” and “Black Lives Matter” throughout the neighborhood streets, alongside neighbors, union brothers and sisters, and comrades in the movement for “People, Peace and Planet Before Profits.” A car caravan behind the marchers honked in time to the chants.

When the crowd arrived at the New Haven People's Center, they were greeted with refreshments, remarks, and stories.

Local 34 Unite Here staff director Barbara Vereen recalled her first meeting with Art decades ago during a union organizing drive at Yale New Haven Hospital and three contract fights at the university. “He brought his knowledge about the movement and about unity,” in the Yale Club of the Communist Party, where workers from all the drives were included. “Creating equity in this world was his whole mission. We stand here to keep the legacy moving forward,” she concluded.

Graham, who joined the YCL ten years ago and helped organize the march, said, “Art was a good man. He was always at every activity we ever did. He is still there for us.”

Lisa Bergmann, organizer with the Communist Party and YCL, recalled that when 31 youth lost their lives to gun violence in 2011, “Art, in this moment in crisis, shared numbers with the young people showing youth deaths increased at the same time that youth summer jobs had been cut in half,” leading to the Jobs for Youth / Jobs for All campaign taken up by the Board of Alders. “Art Perlo is the father of our youth organizing and will always be with us in our organizing for peace, equality, and Jobs for Youth / Jobs for All,” she said.

“We celebrate a man who inspired many and impacted everyone who met him,” said Camacho, youth leader of Ice the Beef and YCL. “Many of the victories were because of the immense behind-the-scenes work Art was so passionate about.”

A citation from the Connecticut General Assembly introduced by Rep. Robyn Porter and Sen. Gary Winfield recognized Art as “a multi-layered freedom fighter who danced ever-so-gallantly on the battlefield of life,” concluding “We humbly and emphatically salute him for his courageous and unrelenting resistance on behalf of those he lifted as he climbed,” calling his legacy “a beacon of light.”

As the YCL youth presented flowers to Joelle Fishman, recognizing her mother Edie Fishman listening from a nearby car, participants stood together in unity and solidarity to continue and keep up the fight, hard work, and the legacy of Art Perlo.

The weekend continued the following day with the virtual event, “Teaching Black History – Making Good Trouble,” addressing the sharp attack across the country against the teaching of Black history and the origins of racism and white supremacy. This year, Connecticut became the first state to require that public high schools offer courses on African American, Black, Puerto Rican, and Latino studies. The legislation was passed as a result of testimonies, rallies, and lobbying by youth groups.

The event, broadcast from the New Haven People's Center with live emcees Mary Thigpen and Camacho and panelists, also featured a keynote address, drumming and dance performance and awards for a student arts and writing competition.

State Sen. Gary Winfield, chair of the Judiciary Committee, called out the stereotypes that can be heard constantly depicting African American youth as contributing to increasing crime. “In fact, Connecticut is one of the safest states in the country,” said Winfield, emphasizing how dangerous these stereotypes are.

“It is important to teach Black history because it reflects who we are and what we’re capable of doing,” he said, calling for support of the Stop Solitary CT movement to ensure that those in prison are treated like human beings. He gave an impassioned plea for support of his top legislative priority this year—keeping youth out of prison.

Leslie Blatteau, newly-elected president of New Haven Federation of Teachers (AFT 933) stressed that Black history is a part of the history of our nation. “We cannot teach history without teaching Black and Latino history,” she said, “and speaking as a white woman, underscoring the importance of exposing the history of white supremacy that holds back progress today.” She acknowledged the Good Trouble made by Students for Educational Justice and other movements for justice and equality, saying, “it works.”

Representing Students for Educational Justice, high school student Jayleen Nieves thanked the panelists for recognizing how important it is for youth to learn Black history. “Black and Latino history, not just slavery, is not talked about enough,” she said, asking, “Why should there have to be a separate course to teach Black and Latino history? It should all be part of teaching American history.” She said it is important to get in Good Trouble “to fight for what we want.”

Keynote speaker Eric Brooks, co-chair of the Communist Party USA’s African American Equality Commission and community activist in Indiana, spoke on the importance of teaching Black history in public schools in light of the right wing’s attacks on Critical Race Theory. “The attack on teaching Black history is designed to disappear the experience of oppression and super exploitation that characterizes U.S. history from the beginning of the colonial and chattel slave experience until today,” he said.

Brooks ended his speech by telling the virtual attendees that “the attempt to erase Black history is a struggle to undermine the democratic voice of Black people in U.S. society, and to advance the agenda of the ultra-right and those who see systemic change on behalf of building a society that meets the needs of the people as threatening.”

Issuing a call to action, he said “Let us all join in demanding that Black History be fully and realistically taught, let us all make efforts to teach ourselves, and most of all, engage in collective struggle around the pressing issues facing us as human—Black, white, indigenous, migrant, Asian, and all other oppressed peoples today.”

The evening’s events ended with drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray. Earlier in the program, a wonderful dance selection was presented by Afro Beat.[1]

2021 Amistad Awards

Senator Richard Blumenthal gives special recognition to honorees at the Connecticut Communist Party’s annual awards ceremony. Connecticut People’s World Committee presented its annual Amistad Awards on Saturday December 12 to mark the 102nd anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party USA, with awards being presented to Sen. Julie Kushner, D-Danbury, Pastor Rodney Wade of Waterbury and SEIU activist Azucena Santiago.


Sen. Richard Blumenthal, joined the program as a surprise guest to offer his congratulations and present the award winners with certificates of special recognition from the United States Senate. “I am really excited and honored to be with you today and share in this remarkable occasion,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said one doesn’t have to agree with everything the party or the unions stand for and said he was there to acknowledge “the great tradition of activism and standing up for individual workers that is represented by the three honorees.”

Blumenthal also used his time to pitch support for the Build Back Better plan, voting legislation, a national $15 minimum wage, ending the filibuster and re-electing Democrats to Congress.

“There’s a lot to be working for in economic justice, in racial equity, in establishing a $15 minimum wage,” Blumenthal said, “and holding corporations accountable for the basic treatment of the American people. We need to look at our entire tax system, beginning with Build Back Better.”

Kushner, a former labor organizer for the United Auto Workers and co-chair of the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, received the award for her work on passing Connecticut’s $15 minimum wage, the paid family and medical leave program and her previous union organizing efforts to bring more diversity to the UAW.

Kushner’s award was presented by her Labor Committee co-chair, Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven, and previous Amistad Award winner.

Kushner said she became involved in union organizing at a young age, working with employees at the casinos, as well as organizing graduate students at universities giving her friendships and “deep bonds that will never go away.”

“What I found in the state senate is an incredible opportunity,” Kushner said. “When we elect people who prioritize working families, when we elect people who share our values then the possibility for making change for so many is real.”

The other awardees included Pastor Rodney Wade of Long Hill Bible Church in Waterbury for his support in the Recovery for All campaign, which included union labor and community activists pushing for higher wages, increasing taxes on the wealthy and more social spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Azucena Santiago of SEIU 32BJ, who pushed unionization efforts at fast food restaurants in Connecticut Service Plazas.

“We invite you to join the Communist Party in this epic time as we make good trouble to uproot systemic racism, retool the war economy, tax the rich, address climate change, secure voting rights and create a new socialist system that puts people, peace and planet before profits,” event emcee Ben McManus said.[2]


Former Awardees Host Committee: Rob Baril, Jan Hochadel, Wildaliz Bermudez, Rochelle Palache, John Humphries, Ken Suzuki, Shellye Davis, Louise Simmons, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, Peggy Buchanan, Robyn Porter, Camila Bortolleto, Carolina Bortolleto, Jeanette Morrison, Dan Livingstone, Juan Brito Ciro Gutierrez, Cindy Harrity, Jill Marks, Alberto Bernardez, Dan Durant, Meg Riccio, Laurie Kennington, Edwin Vargas, Jr., Fatima Rojas, Toni Harp, Kurt Westby, Delphine Clyburn, Renae Reese, John Olsen, Carmen Boudier, Anna Montalvo, Gwen Mills, Alfred L. Marder, Juan Hernandez, Kathleen Cooper, Jorge Perez, Rev Scott Marks, John Harrity, Dolores Colon, Migdalia Castro, Blair Bertaccini, Teresa Younger, Pearl Granat.

100th Anniversary

There was electricity in the air at New Haven City Hall on Dec. 14 2019 as seats throughout the long Atrium filled up for the People’s World Amistad Awards hosted on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. African drums and dancers led a procession with the awardees in a rousing open to the rally program.

Standing ovations, applause, and singing punctuated speakers and performers as they addressed the theme “Rise Up—Unite 2020.: People and Planet Before Profits.”

“To effectively repel this multi-faceted affront on the ideals that unite us, we must, simply, rise up and unite,” said Mayor Toni Harp who set the tone in welcoming everyone to City Hall.

“We must restore people to their proper place before profits, we must prioritize our common good ahead of personal gain, and we must convince others to join us in this collective effort for the good of the planet—and for the good of all that depends upon it.”

The historic location, beautifully decorated, was the site where the Amistad captives of 1839 were held before their trial, and where the Amistad statue is now placed, symbolizing solidarity and courage in the ongoing freedom struggle.

Emcees Lisa Bergmann and Ben McManus recognized those who are in the midst of the big struggles of today, including climate justice protesters and students at Wilbur Cross High School who are rallying behind their classmate, Mario Aguilar, who is being held by ICE. Cosobi Mendoza, age 13, wowed the audience with several guitar selections, leading into the presentation of the awards.

Awardees inspired the crowd as they spoke passionately about their work and vision. Each awardee was presented with the large framed award picturing the Amistad statue. After each made their remarks, Mayor Harp presented a citation.

Rochelle Palache, political director of 32 BJ SEIU, declaring the rights of all workers to decent wages and benefits, called for support of building cleaners across the state who had voted unanimously that morning to strike if they don’t get a contract by Jan. 1. One week later, the workers won a contract that includes a fair wage increase and protects health benefits.

Rochelle Palache (center) receives award presented by former awardees Shellye Davis and Ciro Gutierrez.

John Humphries, director of the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, issued a grim warning about the science of climate change and climate disaster. He called for an urgent, collective response emphasizing the importance of a program that prioritizes jobs and social justice and includes unions at the table.

Ken Suzuki, secretary treasurer of Local 34 UNITE HERE unions at Yale, was key in shaping the pipeline from Black and Latino neighborhoods to permanent jobs at Yale, recently won after years of organizing. He spoke of important influences in his life that moved him to become active in forming, and then leading, the clerical and technical workers union.

After Jill Marks and the Movement Band got everyone singing “Rise Up,” a special recognition was given to Joelle Fishman for 50 years of leadership on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.

A slideshow of Fishman’s candidacies and solidarity presence at rallies, picket lines, and hearings over decades was followed with presentation of a citation of appreciation and a plaque from the New Haven Board of Alders. In addition to her citation, several days later Mayor Harp presented Fishman, along with nine others, with a Key to the City.

Surrounded by a diverse group of members, Fishman mentioned campaigns and victories won over the Communist Party’s 100 years and focused her recollections on her own past 50 years of organizing, unity building, and solidarity to improve the lives of the diverse working class people of Connecticut.

She concluded her remarks with a call to action, greeted with a standing ovation:

“Today, we are challenged to stand up together as never before to stop the dangerous anti-democratic attacks at home and abroad led by the Trumpites and demand basic human rights,” she said. “We have many voices, one struggle.”

Speaking of the long term struggle, she continued, “As we build a growing resistance to defeat cruel and vicious Trumpism, the “triple evils” of capitalism described by Martin Luther King, Jr.—greed, racism, and militarism—are in clear view for everyone to see. It’s time for something better. People around the world are rising up for their own destiny.

“Impeach Now or Dump Trump in 2020 is our immediate mission, but it is just the beginning,” she said. “Our society needs to be restructured with a Green New Deal to address climate change with public works jobs, guaranteed income, healthcare, and investment in front line communities instead of war.

“Yes, the Communist Party agrees that socialism’s time has come. Those who create the wealth should decide the priorities,” she said to loud applause, concluding with a few lines from poet Langston Hughes: “I been starvin’ too long. Ain’t you? Let’s go Revolution.”

The audience joined in a chant of “People, Peace, and Planet Before Profits.”

As everyone filed out to enjoy refreshments, Brian Jarawa Gray and Friends completed their drum and dance performance in the lobby.

The People’s World Amistad Awards event brought together diverse grassroots community and union members and leaders, elected officials, and former awardees. Participation was reflected in an 84-page greeting book that raised funds for the People’s World fund drive.

Over the last 18 years, the Awards have become an institution in the state’s progressive community. The success is a result of a collective teamwork effort with many volunteers and former awardees devoting time and energy to create an event that raises the level of struggle to higher ground for the coming year.

The People’s World Amistad Awards are presented annually to three allies who, as a group and as individuals, personify courage, vision, and unity for a better world. The 2019 Awards were presented in the spirit of building a renewed, united grassroots movement to put people and planet before profits. The Awards embody solidarity against the politics of hate, bigotry, and division, while inspiring the possibility to win bold solutions to transform our country on behalf of working people for a sustainable, equal, and peaceful future.[3]

1996 Happy 75th Birthday Edie Fishman

People's Weekly World on July 20th, 1996 featured congratulations for Edie Fishman's 75th birthday.[4]

Signatories were:

1998 Solidarity and Appreciation of Lucille Dickess

The May Day Supplement of People's Weekly World Section G in 1998 featured congratulations on the retirement of Lucille Dickess, First President of Local 34. "Your contributions paved the way for many victories by the unions at Yale University and the whole labor movement...."[5]

Signatories were:

May Day


The May Day Supplement, page B,in the People's Weekly World 1998, carried a dedication to Milada Marsalka giving best wishes on her recovery.


The People's Weekly World, May 1 1999, carried "Greetings to the 34/35/217/GESO/1199 Organising Conference"[6]

The People's Weekly World, May 1 1999, carried "Dedication to the life of Hattie Brown 1934-1999"[7]


The May Day Supplement, page H, to the People's Weekly World May 20 2000, carried a dedication to the striking "workers at Yale-New Haven Hospital"

2001, Solidarity with the Charleston 5

The May Day Supplement, page C, to the People's Weekly World May 12 2001, carried a dedication from "Connecticut labor and community activists standing in solidarity with the Charleston 5"

2020 Amistad awards

December 2020, from the moment the dramatic African drumming and slide show of the marches, rallies, car caravans, strikes, and election campaigns began, it was certain this would be an extraordinary and uplifting People's World Amistad Awards program.

Transformed from a large in-person statewide annual event into a virtual concert and awards, the program, “United for the World We Want—Celebrating Resilience, Solidarity, and Vision,” was held “in tribute to essential workers and all workers regardless of immigration status during the pandemic, the rise of the movement for Black lives, and the voter upsurge for democratic rights.”

The four awardees, each reflecting consistent and powerful organizing for worker rights, equality, and social justice, inspired participants with their live remarks as they received the large framed Amistad poster. The famed BODOMA Garifuna Culture Band, meanwhile, kept the spirit going with musical entertainment.

Barbara Vereen, Unite Here staff director of Local 34 and the Black Leadership Group, told of her journey from witnessing a strike at the Winchester plant as a child growing up in the projects, to her first sit-down action at a nursing home with 1199, to community organizing to stop gentrification of her neighborhood, to getting a good union job at Yale and becoming a union leader while raising her three sons.

Vereen stressed her work in training new leaders. “I am part of the Unite Here Black Leadership Group,” said Vereen. “Not only are people who look like me in the room, but we are bringing more Black people in our union into leadership because our lives matter. We want to move people forward, we want equity in this country.”

Vereen received the award from two former awardees, Ken Suzuki and, by video, Rev. Scott Marks, speaking from the front lines in Georgia where he is leading a large team of Unite Here members. They are informing voters of their rights in the runoff election that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

“My car is already packed,” Vereen said in conclusion. “From here I am driving down to Georgia to campaign for the two U.S. Senate seats and finish the victory of defeating Trump.” She called upon participants to make calls to Georgia as she knocks on doors.

Rob Baril, president of SEIU District 1199 New England, received his award from State Rep. Robyn Porter, a former awardee also speaking by video from Georgia as part of the Unite Here team. Baril described 2020 both as an awful year from the pandemic to police killings to the economy, and also as the best of years, from the movements in response to the killings of Black lives, to the 80 million voters who rejected hate and embraced hope in the presidential election.

“Movements have to be born of hope,” he said. “I find that hope in the work of our members in home care, in group homes, nursing homes, hospitals who give from their heart every single day.”

Even as 20 of his union members and 20 family members died from COVID-19, yet “housekeepers, direct care workers, nurses, doctors, labeled as essential but treated as expendable, continue to make sure patients get the best care and make sure bosses understand they want nothing less than protections and make sure elected officials understand that Black and brown lives matter and that all health care workers lives matter.”

“Those are the seeds that will blossom into the flower of the movement that can change our state, change our country and change the world,” said Baril.

Jan Hochadel, president of AFT Connecticut and executive vice president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, received the Award from former awardee Shellye Davis, who serves with her on the AFT executive board. Davis said, “Jan offered leadership with grace under fire” and “fearlessness and courage” during the pandemic.

Hochadel shared the extreme challenges that her union, which represents educators, health care workers, and public workers has confronted during the pandemic, including a successful strike at Backus Hospital for protective gear and worker safety.

“We are fighting the good fight because we have amazing members,” said Hochadel. “This pandemic has made our national crises of health, the economy, and inequities impossible to ignore.

“We can’t go back to taking health care workers for granted. We must have a health care system that removes profits and is based on the needs of the community, not shareholders,” she said, continuing, “We can’t go back to austerity. How about a progressive tax structure so the lowest paid workers are not bearing the burden of keeping the economy going?

“The way things used to be are not good enough,” said Hochadel, citing institutional racism in voting and all aspects of life, and calling on participants to “be part of a social movement that refuses that normal and demands change and justice. We can win that fight,” she concluded.

Hartford Councilwoman Wildaliz Bermudez, Working Families Party, received the Amistad Award from State Rep. Ed Vargas, a former awardee who knew Bermudez since she was a little girl when she and her siblings were defendants in the landmark Sheff v O’Neill lawsuit to desegregate Hartford public schools.

Bermudez spoke of life lessons. She began by telling of her father who came to Hartford from Puerto Rico as a young man with nothing. She recalled as a six-year-old testifying on the need for bilingual education and more school resources, which showed her the power of her voice. She learned to stand up to adversity while working on policy at Hartford City Hall after college and realizing that as a woman of color she was receiving half the salary she should have gotten. Her work in the nonprofit sector for social justice taught her to organize marches and rallies. In 2015 she ran for City Council “to fight for those in our community and many who are voiceless and invisible.”

Bermudez credited the work of her team with winning a fund for families facing deportation, the first such municipal fund in Connecticut. “Our most recent win this November was passing one of most progressive ordinances for a civilian police review board.”

“We can change the world through our actions. Our voice matters. Our deeds matter,” said Bermudez. “Be bold. Seize the moment.”

A highlight of the afternoon was messages from four Communist Party members saluting the organization’s 101st anniversary, the occasion on which the Amistad Awards are held. “I learned so much from the elders who are now gone and we are the elders,” said Patricia Highsmith, advising the young folks to get involved and learn.

Georgina Fuentes recalled how her mother had joined the Communist Party when they responded to police abuse of her brother. “I love the equality,” she said, “and now my kid is the third generation!” introducing Genesis, who shared excitement at attending their first rally to defend the vote in the presidential election.

“This is our moment,” said Jaime Myers-McPhail. “We must bring forward more leaders and more solidarity and fight to take back what belongs to us, the working and oppressed people. The Communist Party helps make it possible for us to do just that.”

YCL member Manuel Camacho presented a poem in English and Spanish written for the occasion, “Unity for All.”

“These are revolutionary times. They are not times to give in and give up. They are good trouble times. So we refuse to go back to the way things were,” said Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party in the call to action.

“Be active in your union. Organize a union if you don’t have one. Be active in community organizations. Be one of many who are joining the Communist Party as those who will not rest until freedom is won,” she said, concluding that “the People’s World Amistad Awards salutes all freedom fighters as we recommit to fight together for the world we want.”

Emcees Lisa Bergmann and Ben McManus kept the program moving flawlessly and with enthusiasm. Comments in the chat on Zoom also helped create a sense of community.

BODOMA Garifuna Culture Band opened the program with one drum and dance selection and closed with a 20-minute segment from their spectacular performance at the Awards in 2014. The band is from Bronx, N.Y., and has their roots in the Garifuna community of Honduras.

The proceeds from the 86-page program book will benefit the award-winning People’s World online newspaper. “Thank you, People’s World, for posting over 800 stories to help win this election and dump Trump!” said Bergmann.[8]

2019 Amistad Awards


2018 Awards


Marcey Lynn Jones November 18, 2018 ·

Just three weeks till the People’s World Annual Amistad Awards. Did you put your ad in and get your tickets? If not please contact us immediately! Congratulations to our local Sunny Chi for special recognition award!!!

All the awardees are so deserving.

Yet, some of you may think you have had a bad year. If so look into Nelson Pinos life this past year. Our awards are being held on his 373rd day in sanctuary. Look up his story bring a dish for our potluck and donate what you can to aid he and his family in a fight he shouldn’t have in what we so easily call the land of the free. Let’s help him stay brave in his fight. Bring a word of encouragement if you can’t bring a dish or money. Thank you — with Marshall Christian, Jr., Cameron D. Greene, Douglas Bethea, Addys Maria Castillo, Renay Ghant Eaton, Art Perlo, Jackye Foster, Nyomie Greco, Ramona Belissa Campbell, Toni Harp, Zecolia Queenz Denise, Robyn Artifaye Porter, Jahmal Henderson, Jamilia James, Mia Dubose-Franklin, DeAri Allick, Roseann Rogers Carrano, Joelle Fishman, Elisha Brown, Jerry Green, J. Kelly Edge II, Dhati T. Dozier, Gary Winfield, Henry Lowendorf, Sunny Chi, Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, Lisa Bergmann, Karin Davis, Jill Marks, Carlos Freeman, Marshall Canon Christian, Jr., Love Josellynn Teague, Kayla Heaven Qumya Burns, Frank Douglass, Donald Carter, Connie Ellison, Niyoshi B. Greco, Daz Ether, Connie Ellison, Delisa Carney, Michelle Ahmad, Diane X. Brown, Jeff Davis, Joanisha Eleazer, Pastor Donald Morris Christian Community Commission, Jesse Hardy, Ps Griff, Darrell Allick, Krystal Kb Bethea, Kay Burgess, Rich Grey, Jason Dorsey, Daisy Ish Dukes, Duncan L. Angel, Majestic Divine, Frank Douglass, Jr. and Frank Brady.[9]

2001 Communist Party USA anniversary bash

It was standing room only Dec. 9 2001 at the New Haven People’s Center as an array of activists from across Connecticut came out to honor four leaders and celebrate the 82nd anniversary of the Communist Party USA.

The annual event, hosted by the People’s Weekly World in Connecticut, was a demonstration of broad support for the struggle for a “World of Economic and Social Justice, Peace and Democracy.”

A greeting book and other contributions raised $3,500 to complete the $10,000 Connecticut fund drive goal.

In her welcome remarks, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, cited the victory of the Charleston Five to emphasize that this is not a time for despair, but a time to stand up, speak out and collectively win new gains for peace and justice.

Remarks by the honorees reflected the issues affecting working people and the world after Sept. 11 and in the midst of the economic crisis. They included: Pearl Granat, a veteran Hartford union leader and now a vice president for Local 1199 New York; Teresa Younger, the first African-American and first woman executive director of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union; State Representative Evelyn Mantilla, a leader for an End Child Poverty Social Investment Fund; and Dr. David Adams and Lindsay Mathews, who returned to Connecticut after a decade in Paris where David worked for UNESCO as director of the International Year for the Culture of Peace (2000).

The pro-labor, pro-people’s message of the reception was highlighted with a call to support Pratt and Whitney workers on strike at four Connecticut plants.[10]

2003 fundraiser

Labor leaders, grass roots activists, elected officials and young people crowded into the New Haven People’s Center Dec. 7 with energy and enthusiasm to “Push Bush out the door in 2004!” The occasion was a reception celebrating the 84th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, hosted by the PWW in Connecticut.

A miniature of the Amistad statue “Make Us Free” was presented to each of five leaders on the front lines of the grassroots movements to defeat George Bush and the right wing in the 2004 elections and win economic justice, equality and peace. As each recipient expressed their appreciation and solidarity, the strength of the recent strike at Yale and struggles to open jobs to Latino workers, the fight to save jobs at Pratt & Whitney, the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, and vigils for peace filled the room with hope and optimism.

Keynote speaker Denise Winebrenner Edwards, member of the Borough Council in Wilkinsburg, Pa., detailed the pain and suffering in her community and called for the defeat of the Bush administration. “The Bush administration is not just an obstacle to achieving peace, but is aggressive in waging war,” she said, calling for maximum unity to win peace, living wages, health care and senior security.

Awards were presented to Mark Wilson, Local 35 Federation of Hospital and University Employees; New Haven Alderwomen-elect Migdalia Castro and Dolores Colon; John Harrity, International Association of Machinists District 26 organizer; and Joyce Hamilton, executive director of DemocracyWorks.

Five Hartford area high school students, activists in the Young Communist League USA, inspired the audience as they were presented with Amistad posters. “What Bush is doing in Iraq is wrong,” said Corina Gouch. “We have to do something about it.”

Merrillee Milstein was also in attendance.

Over $4,000 was raised to put Connecticut over the top in its $10,000 goal for the PWW Fund Drive. [11]

CPUSA 85th anniversary

About 100 labor and progressive activists packed the New Haven People's Center Dec. 5, 2004, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Communist Party USA at a reception hosted by the Connecticut Bureau of the People’s Weekly World.

Several state leaders in the movement for social change were honored, including Sharon Palmer, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut, Americo Santiago, program and policy director of DemocracyWorks, and the Rev. Scott Marks, New Haven director of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy.

Palmer, who coordinated labor’s activity in the 2nd Congressional district, spoke of being depressed at first after election results came in, then becoming angry and finally determined to continue the fight against the anti-labor, anti-people policies of the right-wing. Santiago, who initiated a successful campaign to restore voting rights to ex-felons, said grassroots activism has never been more vital than it is today. Rev. Marks delivered a powerful call to continue organizing door-to-door and developing new leaders to bring about change.

Sam Webb, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, emphasized the need for unity to continue to fight against the Bush administration’s greedy schemes to strip working people of their hard-won Social Security benefits.

Recognizing the ongoing contributions of several persons who were present with over 50 years of membership in the CPUSA, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, reminded the gathering of the proud history and beginnings of the organization. She said the party was formed by working men and women who “refused to accept segregation and racism, refused to accept imperialist wars of domination, refused to accept exploitation of labor, hunger and homelessness. They had a vision of a society based on equality, dignity, justice and peace.”

The spirited celebration was a reminder that “We, the People,” will not sit still and let the ultra-right roll over us and try to take our dignity and respect away. It included calls for educating, organizing, and mobilizing others to save Social Security, to win health care for all, and to end the war in Iraq.

The event included a program and greetings book that raised nearly $3,000 for the People’s Weekly World, putting Connecticut over the top for its goal in this year’s fund drive.[12]

86th anniversary of the Communist Party USA

With a call to “Rebuild America – Bring the Troops Home,” Connecticut readers of the People’s Weekly World honored leaders of the people’s movement at a Dec. 4 2005 reception. The event, marking the 86th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, drew together peace activists, unions, students, politicians and community organizations. It also raised $4,000 towards the PWW Fund Drive.

Lois O'Connor, executive vice president of Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans and former president of AFSCME Council 4, was honored for the many battles she has fought including the recent attacks on Social Security. As family members watched their mother speak, Lois paid tribute to the Communist Party for making positive changes. Her shout, “It’s time to get the hell out of Iraq,” drew applause from everyone.

Jorge Perez, president of the New Haven Board of Aldermen, was recognized because of his strong leadership and commitment to develop affordable housing. Perez said he was very happy to accept the award and vowed to continue working to stop injustices.

George Springer thankedd everyone for keeping the pressures on the Bush administration. He said he is proud to be a part of the movement that is saying “enough is enough, bring the troops home now.” Springer, former president of AFT Connecticut and now AFT Northeast regional director, called on the administration to spend our money the right way: create more jobs, better education and rebuild the hurricane areas.

The program ended on a high note with guest speaker Martina Cruz from Lawrence, Mass., who was recently elected to the school committee. She campaigned under the slogan, “Education for peace, not war.”

Cruz’s decision to run was made because parents asked her to help improve the education process. She was tired of politicians who talked and talked and never did anything. She said she will continue to fight to inform students and parents of their legal rights about recruitment officers who prey on schools.

Cruz encouraged people to start teaching their children at home the problems our society is facing. “It’s a long struggle, but I will do my best. This is all about the future of our children,” she said. [13]

2006 May Day celebrations

At the 2006 People’s Weekly World annual May Day celebration, Connecticut AFL-CIO President John Olsen recalled that only two years ago Connecticut Labor Against the War was awarded the Connecticut PWW’s Newsmaker Award. This, he said, contributed to the dialogue that resulted in adoption by the state and national AFL-CIO of strong resolutions against the Iraq war.

Olsen spoke at the May 7 celebration, where he accepted the Newsmaker Award on behalf of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “It is in rooms like this where things begin to happen,” Olsen said.

Making the presentation, Art Perry of SEIU 32BJ credited Olsen’s leadership for creating the climate where Change to Win and AFL-CIO unions in the state have continued to work together despite a national split.

Also at the event, the Winchester Citizens Ad Hoc award was accepted by Craig Gauthier and several other workers from the recently shut-down U.S. Repeating Firearms Plant . The group vowed to keep the struggle going and to keep city officials on their toes to find another manufacturing buyer, making sure that former workers have the opportunity to be hired with union representation.

Connecticut Alliance for Retired Americans President Kevin M. Lynch thankedd everyone for their support on last year’s tremendous struggle to beat back the Bush attacks on Social Security. Special recognition was given to Community Organized for Responsible Development for their recent community benefits agreement with the giant Yale New Haven Hospital, and Unidad Latina en Accion for organizing community support for the immigrant rights movement.

The Hartford Young Communist League’s Rap Group had everyone in the room rocking and clapping. The event raised over $2,000 for the People’s Weekly World 2006 fund drive.

This fight for justice has stirred up a powerful coalition of real grassroots organizing, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA, told the PWW gathering.[14]

2007 Amistad Awards

In New Haven, Conn., the PWW’s annual Amistad Awards are named for the slave ship that came to symbolize the abolitionist movement after a group of slaves revolted, taking the ship over in 1839.

Carrie Saxon Perry, former mayor of Hartford and leader of that city’s NAACP, on hand to accept an award, urged the crowd to continue to fight against the ultra-right. She noted that while she was mayor, “they went after us when we took up the issue of health care,” but in that election cycle, all three Republican members of the City Council were ousted.

While Republicans later retook seats, the progressive movement has re-surged in Hartford, as the Working Families Party has built a base around the People for Change Party that had ousted the Republicans before.

Larry Deutsch and Luis Cotto, two WFP candidates who won Hartford City Council seats November, told Saxon Perry at the event, “You were our inspiration.”

Also honored were Kica Matos, New Haven’s community services director, who was instrumental in establishing the first municipal ID available to all residents regardless of immigration status, and Mary Johnson, vice president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers Retirees and founder of Coalition for People. [15]

2008 Amistad Awards

Dec. 7, 2008 Al Marder was one of three honorees to receive the Amistad Award from the People’s Weekly World at a reception at 4:00 pm at the New Haven People's Center, 37 Howe Street. Other recipients are Kathy Jackson, chairwoman of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists in Connecticut and Juan Hernandez, Assistant District Leader of SEIU 32 BJ Justice for Janitors. [16]

2008 newsmaker Awards

Newly organized union members, activists and community leaders gathered in New Haven on Sunday May 4 to celebrate the annual presentation of Peoples Weekly World Newsmaker Awards for International Workers Day. Two thousand dealers at Foxwoods Casino who won union representation with UAW Region 9A and workers at New England Linen who won representation with UNITE HERE received the awards and a pledge that the community will continue to stand by them.

The workers were warmly applauded as they came forward to tell their stories and express appreciation for the solidarity. Both groups of workers faced legal challenges, highlighting the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act as an issue in the 2008 elections.

John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL CIO, said all of labor stands by these two groups of courageous workers, and called for support of the one million signature campaign for changing labor laws with the Employee Free Choice Act.

Greeting the rise of activism throughout the country, reflected at the event, Olsen urged those present to continue to make their message heard. Calling for an end to divisions and labeling he emphasized the need to join together to make a change in the country.

Shirl Wilkins, of New Growth Praise Center, spoke of her trip to Philadelphia to get out the vote for Barack Obama with the Change to Win unions. Her mother participated in door knocking for the first time, and said it is a turning point in her life. “I’m new at this, and I have a lot to learn,” Wilkins said, “but what I do know is that we must continue to come together and be united.”

In a call to action, Connecticut Communist Party chair Joelle Fishman emphasized that workers right to organize is key because collectively working people can change the politics of our country.

“This is a time of awakening, a time of great promise,” she said. “The corporate media is doing all it can to spread division and poison and bust things up....As a people we have to keep our eyes on the prize, and not give in to provocations, especially racism, which is used as a cover for right-wing, anti-worker policies that hurt us all.”

While putting dollars and checks into the collection buckets for the Peoples Weekly World fund drive totaling $3,000, everyone joined in chants adapted from the May 1st immigrant workers unity march in New Haven. “Who’s got the power? – we’ve got the power! What kind of power? Workers’ power” and Si Se Puede, Yes We Can.

The event opened with a slide show presentation “May Day Around the World” and closed out with a piano jazz selection by a worker from New England Linen. It was a great day for celebration.[17]

90th anniversary of CPUSA/PW Amistad award

The diverse and inspired overflow crowd stayed to the end of the remarkable celebration of People's World Amistad Award honorees Anna Montalvo, Gwen Mills and Art Perry on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, Dec. 2009. The theme of the event was "Keep the Ball win jobs with union rights, health care, peace and equality!" Unity and struggle were the messages of the day.

Bill Collins of the Rabble Rousers got everyone going with his new song "Health Care is Our Right," followed by a film, "Building on 90 Years of Struggle," which highlighted Connecticut struggles and activists and the role of the Communist Party for People before Profits policies. Everyone enjoyed all the photos.

Beto Castillo performed two Mexican songs to the delight of all. And then it was time for the award presentations.

Event chair Paul Neal presented Anna Montalvo, president of AFSCME Local 1522 in Bridgeport with citations from the New Haven Board of Aldermen and the Connecticut General Assembly. As he presented the large framed Amistad Award, AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano brought out how strong Anna has been in leading a large local with many different worksites including public works where the guys had to learn to take leadership from a woman.

New Haven Aldermen Jackie James and Allan Brison presented the citations to Gwen Mills, political field director of Unite-Here unions for Connecticut and Rhode Island. Shirley Lawrence, lead organizer for Connecticut Center for a New Economy, recalled their ten years of working together and praised Gwen's decision to be a part of the labor movement as she presented the Amistad Award. Gwen spoke of her family and her union in accepting, and recalled many efforts with the Peoples Center over the years.

Working Families Party director Jon Green and State Rep Gary Holder-Winfield presented the citations to Art Perry, Connecticut political director of SEIU 32BJ Justice for Janitors . Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, presented the Amistad Award, remembering when they first met over 30 years ago while Art was working at Southbury Training School and the successful struggles to keep the facility open. She emphasized Art's deep commitment to the power of working people, and as political director has never lost that connection to the members he serves. In accepting, Art had many thanks to family, friends and co-workers and said that no matter what comes, this award will always be his highest honor.

The awardees were celebrated with a poem by Ras Mo Moses, "Working Class People" along with Baub Bidon and backed up with Jeff Fuller on bass and Richard Hill on percussion.

Everyone was thrilled by Aishah Jenkins and Kendra Streater two high school students who performed "Stand by Me" with piano and bass accompaniment.

Joelle Fishman presented the afternoon's call to action for organizing the unorganized, building even bigger grass roots mobilization on the issues including health care, no troops to Afghanistan, public works job creation and the employee free choice act. She presented certificates of appreciation to Dorothy Johnson and Brian Steinberg for their tireless work over many years delivering the People's Weekly World to workers' homes and getting them involved in the struggle.

Applause greeted the announcement that the People's World now daily on-line will have a mini Connecticut print edition as of January, when the national print edition ends.

Finally, led by Bill Collins, all the musicians led the audience in singing Solidarity Forever as people rose to their feet and joined hands in the air.

The delicious home made supper and holiday gift table rounded out an inspiring and forward looking afternoon enjoyed by all.

A 54 page greeting book raised necessary funds to keep the paper going, and offered a handsome and exciting keepsake of the labor and people's movement in Connecticut.

The 90th anniversary of the Communist Party proud was done proud![18]

May Day 2011

On May Day 2011, in New Haven, a rally and march of several hundred was initiated by immigrant workers who had just won a long fight with Goodfella's Restaurant for $23,000 in unpaid wages. Representatives from local unions, student and community groups joined in. The march through downtown ended at the New Haven Green for the annual May Day celebration, including information tables, a giant peace sign project, performances and speeches.

At the end of the afternoon, an overflow crowd from around the state turned out for the presentation of People's World Newsmaker Awards to Spectrum nursing home workers locked out on strike for one year, Communications Workers Local 1298, and SEBAC, the bargaining coalition of all state worker's unions representing 40,000 workers.

Organized around the theme "We are One - Workers Rights are Human Rights," the event honored Connecticut's public workers, their unions and the services they provide. It offered an opportunity for youth leaders, strikers, community activists and state labor leaders to discuss how to build a more powerful political force of working people that can change the debate from deficits to taxing the rich and big corporations, and achieve a change of priorities in our country.

Exemplifying the kind of courage required, Carmen Boudier, president of New England Local 1199, said the 400 Spectrum workers had rejected a company attempt to rehire only some workers and not others. "We will all stay out until we can all go back," she declared to cheers and applause.

Bill Henderson, whose local negotiated with AT&T a year longer than the rest of the country to win a contract without concessions, decried corporate outsourcing of jobs to other countries, and called for a change in policy to build up good jobs in the United States.

Dan Livingston, chief negotiator for SEBAC, emphasized that the corporate attack on workers has accelerated globally in the last 20 years. He urged the youth present to help develop new ways of communicating the importance of the labor movement to their generation.

The audience was inspired by youth participation in the program, including The Union rap group, poetry and remarks from high school students. A performance by singer and social justice activist Fernandito Ferrer, visiting from Puerto Rico, highlighted the common struggles of workers in all countries.

John Olsen, president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO, addressed all three events. "There is a class war going on - they're trying to exterminate us," he said. Warning against balancing the budget on the backs of state workers, he said that if the Bush tax cuts extended by Congress in December were collected from Connecticut residents making over $250,000, there would be no deficit.

The May Day events culminated a hectic week of marches, rallies and press conferences on an array of demands, including a fair state budget, SustiNet health care, paid sick days, Social Security, a state Dream Act and Workers Memorial Day ceremonies commemorating those who died on the jobs and advocating for worker safety and the right to organize.[19]

On the 125th anniversary of the birth of May Day as an international day of worker's struggle and solidarity, the need for unity is greater than ever, speakers at all the events emphasized. The celebrations inspired and gave new strength for the giant battles ahead.

2012 People's World Amistad Awards

Art Perry presents Peoples World Amistad Award to Sen. Toni Harp, as co-recipients Fatima Rojas of Unite HERE and Kurt Wesby of Local 32 BJ look on

"Solidarity, determination, and celebration were the watchwords at this year's post-election People's World Amistad Awards held at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School in New Haven", December 2012. Three grassroots leaders for progressive social change, Sen. Toni Harp, Kurt Westby, and Fatima Rojas, were honored around the theme, "Connecticut Rising - We are all the 47 percent!"

Filling the auditorium were striking 1199 members from Healthbridge nursing homes nearing a full year on the picket lines; a large delegation of custodial workers, members of Local 32 BJ who came to help honor their director Kurt Westby, and many Unite Here union members including several who serve on the New Haven Board of Aldermen.

Fatima Rojas, accepting the award on behalf of immigrants and all workers explained how she came to be a union organizer. She decried the lack of union representation for low wage and immigrant workers and issued a call for union rights for all workers in this country.

Kurt Westby, Connecticut Director of SEIU 32 BJ, popularly known as the "Justice for Janitors" union, called for increased organizing for workers needs and rights following on this year's election victory. Appreciating the award, he said it inspires him to go forward.

Former Amistad Award recipient Art Perry who worked with Westby told how he grew the property management union from 1,000 to 4,400 members in 15 years transforming an invisible low-wage industry into a respected political force demanding economic justice and immigrant rights.

In opening the program, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party USA, recognized the diversity and unity of those present as the winning ingredients. "The lesson of this election is that if we continue to organize and join together with pride and determination we can raise up everyone with us. Connecticut is rising. We are all the 47 percent," she said.

Sen. Toni Harp who represents the 10th District in New Haven and West Haven and serves as chair of the appropriations committee, moved the audience when she said that she was dedicating the award to Al Marder with whom she works on the Connecticut Freedom Trail, and to her late husband Wendell Harp who first encouraged her to run for office.

"This election shows that the 47 percent are the most important part of the electorate," she exclaimed.

Harp was repeatedly applauded for refusing to back down in her support of the New Haven Peoples Center when the "Right Wing used red baiting to pressure Governor Dannel Malloy to withdraw bonding funds requested by Harp to re-point the 150 year old brick structure."

The program, held on the 93rd anniversary of the Communist Party USA, was opened by the YCL and New Elm City Dream. The youth danced, held signs, and shouted messages of congratulations to the candidates and the honorees. Later, Bill Collins and The Testifiers got everyone singing his 2012 song about Linda McMahon, "Pushing Back Against Linda's Lies."

After performing a salsa number, Mikata had the audience dancing in the aisles to "Stand by Me." Band director Richard Hill said they chose the song because the election victory opens the possibility for a large scale people's movement, as in the 1930's, if everyone sticks together and keeps organizing.

Participants signed post cards to the Connecticut Congressional delegation calling on them not to make any "Grand Bargain" on the backs of working people. A candlelight vigil will be held at the old State House in Hartford on December 10, initiated by the AFL-CIO and other groups on the national day of action.[20]

2013 awards

The 2013 Amistad Awards were presented by the People’s World on Sunday, December 1 at 4 p.m. at a special ”MARCHING ON for Jobs, Freedom & Peace” anniversary rally in New Haven at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, 177 College St.

We celebrate the contributions and example of Laurie Kennington, Edwin Gomes and Rep. Edwin Vargas, three wonderful leaders and role models who challenge economic inequality and are in the forefront of organizing for jobs, health care, union rights and the needs of youth.

Laurie Kennington is president of Local 34 UNITE HERE which won a contract advancing current workers and opening jobs at Yale for New Haven residents. She is in the forefront of the community/labor alliance that helped elect union members to the Board of Alders.

Edwin Gomes was inspired at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to dedicate his life to working people and the fight for equality as International Representative of United Steelworkers of America, and State Senator from Bridgeport where he is still organizing.

State Rep. Edwin Vargas, Jr., past president of Hartford Federation of Teachers, is on every picket line for civil rights, workers’ rights and peace. In the Commerce Committee he helped win passage of a Future Commission to study alternatives to military production for jobs.

The annual awards are presented to allies by the People’s World on the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the Communist Party USA.[21]

In his closing remarks Rev. Scott Marks brought the crowd to its feet as he called for door-to-door organizing that will "move forward" the fight for jobs and other needs. "I will not go back!" he exclaimed passionately.

Marks and all the awardees praised the vision and work of the Communist Party in their communities. The event was held on the occasion of the CPUSA's 94th anniversary.

"They're trying to turn the working class into the working poor and the only ones who will stop it are people like you in this room," said Gomes, recalling his years working at Carpenter Steel in Local 2216 United Steel Workers in Bridgeport. It was enjoyable to serve in the Senate, he said, but his best experience was union organizing. He urged everyone to keep the pressure on elected officials to meet people's needs.

Stationed at Walter Reed Hospital at the time of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Gomes went to the rally. The experience changed his life. Gomes was among those featured in a video produced by AFT Connecticut shown as the audience arrived.

Rep. Edwin Vargas, Jr., who taught in the Hartford public schools for 35 years, serving as union president for part of that time, and in many national, state and local positions in union and Puerto Rican community organizations said that while he has received many awards, this one has special meaning because "this is an award from people who are the hard core of the movement."

Quoting Che Guevara that "the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love," Vargas elaborated on the fact that justice cannot be achieved without peace.

The afternoon was punctuated by a youth rendition of Live Every Voice and Sing directed by Jill Marks, Puerto Rican music by Sonia Castro, Chilean songs by Juan Brito and Rebecca Brito, and a rousing finale by Michael Mills Rhythms of the Heart drumming which involved the entire audience.[22]

MCs were Kit Salazar-Smith and Lisa Bergmann.

Other speakers included Fatima Rojas, John Olsen, and Rev. Scott Marks.

2014 Awards

The People's World Amistad Awards were held on Sunday, December 7 2014, to celebrate the Connecticut election victory and look forward. Awardees included Meg Riccio, chief steward of Local 35 service and maintenance workers at Yale; Alberto Bernardez, area director SEIU 32 BJ union of janitors; Daniel Durant, community organizer for AFT Connecticut.[23]

Enthusiasm was high as emcees Kit Salazar-Smith and Lisa Bergmann guided the program from the New Orleans-style sounds of Kings of Harmony and song led by Jill Marks to the finale of traditional music and dance by the Bodoma Garifuna Cultural Band.

Opening the event, held on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the Communist Party USA, Connecticut chair Joelle Fishman's call to action evoked the chants of recent protests.

"When courageous $15 and a Union fast food strikers stand in solidarity with Hands Up Don't Shoot protests they are saying this is one struggle for dignity, for basic democratic rights, human rights and fairness. As Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged us to take on the triple evils of poverty, racism and war," she said, "we know it will take big change for our country to truly be of, by and for the people. To that we recommit today, inspired by the awardees and the people in the streets fighting for justice."[24]

Craig Gauthier day

When New Haven Mayor Toni Harp declared Feb. 23, 2014 as "Craig Gauthier day in the City of New Haven," the overflow crowd at the Peoples Center burst into cheers.

Mayor Toni Harp and Craig Gauthier before the annual Peoples World African American History Month event honoring Gauthier

This 40th annual African American History Month event, also held in Hartford the night before, made history.

After leading a youth march to end violence and for jobs with Gauthier, the Mayor read her proclamation to this "courageous union and community leader in our State," noting his journey from Louisiana to New Haven, leading his union and in "the Communist Party USA, where he has campaigned for peace, to end police brutality, meet the needs of youth, to create living wag jobs in the community and for union rights."

Culminating two and a half years of youth organizing, the New Elm City Dream and theYoung Communist League led the march with police escort. Over one hundred youth and elected officials, union and community leaders marched from Elm and Kensington streets where Tyrell Trimble was shot to death in July, 2012, to the Peoples Center to hear Gauthier's story.

Thanking the youth for marching and accepting the petitions for jobs they presented to her, Harp exclaimed, "If the demand is not placed there will be no action." The youth carried large banners created with local artists including likenesses of historical African American leaders, New Haven youth who lost their lives, and Gauthier.

Chanting "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All," the marchers filed into the Peoples Center to the sounds of drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and joined the crowd already assembled. As the room filled to capacity, people gathered outside the front and back doors, straining to hear the program.

Prize winners of the high school arts and writing competition presented their poems, essays and artwork on the theme, "If you were mayor of New Haven how would you work with young people to plan for the future of the city? As a high school student, what would you say to Mayor Toni Harp?"

Harp, the city's first woman and second African American mayor, promised to place the book with all the submissions into the New Haven Public Library "for posterity."

Before presenting his life story, Gauthier received additional citations from Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, elected two days later to fill the state senate seat vacated by Harp; Ald. Dolores Colon, chair of the Black and Hispanic Caucus of the Board of Alders, John Harrity, president of District 26, State Council of Machinists, Jarvis Tyner, executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA, and a poem by Baub Bidon.

The room was silent as Gauthier took the podium after giving his cousin in the audience a hug. He described racist incidents in segregationist Louisiana, in the military in the Dominican Republic, and in New Haven that had shaped his life. His mother's teaching and example led him to decide to turn his anger into organizing to bring about change, he said.

He described his years working at the Winchester sporting arms factory where he was a leader of a six- month strike in 1979 and then elected president of the International Association of Machinists, Victory Lodge 609. He also spoke of his earlier participation in the union organizing drive at Yale New Haven Hospital, acknowledging his co-workers from those experiences in the audience.

"As Communists we strive for a better life for workers and their families, those who produce the wealth of this great nation," said Gauthier. "I urge the youth today to step out of the crowd and become community leaders, become leaders on the job. Don't let other people who know us define us. Learn your family history. Learn the real history of our nation. You cannot change anything unless your first find out how it works and what role you can play to make this democracy in these United States work for all people."

Ben McManus, chair of the People's World committee that planned the event, thankedd Gauthier and recalled his own first introduction to the Communist Party newspaper as a child in Newark, New Jersey. Before enjoying a home made meal, those present reached into their wallets to make a contribution to the fund drive.[25]

2014 State convention

Messages from labor and community leaders, participation by young people, and adoption of a Connecticut Economic Bill of Rights highlighted the lively and powerful convention of the Connecticut district of the Communist Party on May Day weekend.

"It's time to turn up the heat," said Rev. Scott Marks, recognizing the Young Communist League and New Elm City Dream youth group who have been marching to end violence with the theme "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All." The demands that the youth have brought forward have been adopted as top priorities by the New Haven Board of Alders on which union members and their allies hold a super majority.

Jennifer Graham and Jackie Marks, high school students representing New Elm City Dream on the mayor's planning committee to rebuild the Q House youth center, got loud applause when they explained, "We wanted to bring the violence down. We marched and campaigned for the Q House."

Local 34 Unite Here president Laurie Kennington, Alderwoman Evette Hamilton and Hartford City Council Minority Leader (Working Families Party) Larry Deutsch also appreciated the Communist Party for always being there for working people.

The multi-racial and multi-generational gathering took stock of the last four years and discussed how to win living wage jobs and other gains to improve the lives of working people, unemployed and youth.

"People are talking everywhere about how the system is broken. They're looking for answers," said Joelle Fishman, who chairs the Communist Party in Connecticut. "They see in the Communist Party an organization that is part of the working class, part of them. It's a big responsibility."

She said Connecticut has bucked national trends in elections because of labor's grassroots organizing on issues and fielding union members as candidates. This has resulted in the ability to expand the right of workers to organize, take major steps towards protecting the rights and safety of immigrants, and increased protections on the job. It has also made the state a target of extreme right-wing organizations that are spending huge sums to try and recapture the governor's seat and Congress in November's elections.

Delegates old and new embraced a culture of organizing has led to steady growth of the Communist Party and YCL. After hearing presentations from the North Main club in Hartford which is known for holding the civilian review board accountable for police conduct, and the Newhall club in New Haven which is organizing door-to-door on the issue of jobs, the convention broke down into small groups to discuss how the work of their clubs makes a difference in their communities and why the Communist Party is needed to give people a voice and a vision.

"We wake up the neighborhood to act when there's a problem," said one group emphasizing use of the People's World in the community to get out the news from a working-class point of view.

"You are active in your community, which is what you should be doing," said national vice chair Libero Della Piana, who added that the national convention will provide a venue to share experiences from around the country and to hear from international guests. Placing the struggles in a bigger perspective, he warned of the dangers of extreme right-wing voter suppression and big spending to try and gain control of Congress and state offices in 2014.

The convention adopted a Connecticut Economic Bill of Rights that proclaims a living wage job with the right to a union, housing, health care, education and a peaceful, sustainable environment are basic human rights. While stating "fully ending inequality needs socialism," the document details immediate local and national demands to tax the rich and move money from military spending to infrastructure repair and people's needs.

The convention also adopted a resolution encouraging voter education and participation in voter registration and voter turnout efforts for November's election. A delegation of 25 was elected to represent the state at the 30th national convention in Chicago next month.

"The Connecticut YCL youth are incredible," said Lisa Bergmann who co-chaired the convention and is an organizer for the YCL nationally. They march, they chair meetings and recruit new youth to join them. They are making a qualitative difference in the lives of youth in Connecticut and inspiring the whole movement."

Following the convention, a People's World May Day tribute to Pete Seeger and Amiri Baraka was held upstairs in the sanctuary of the First and Summerfield Methodist Church, site of countless union rallies and mobilizations.[26].

Hartford Service Workers Club

According to club chair Tom Connolly, Hartford Service Workers Club, was formed four years ago (2010)with a few comrades. Our constituency is workers in service industries in the Hartford area. We are primarily organizers, members and leaders of SEIU affiliated unions. Our club also assists the neighborhood clubs in the area, for example by providing transportation to city or state People's World and Communist Party events.

The club has recruited several leaders and retirees and we have made progress in establishing a party presence with union activists. Our goal is to expand our ranks through our contacts with activists and the rank and file.

These are some of the activities we are doing that we hope will enable us to organize more workers into the party:

The Connecticut Party has been established for years in several neighborhoods in Hartford. People's World newspaper routes have been ongoing. The children and grandchildren of those who joined many years ago are now members. This grassroots organizing has shaped the Communist Party and was the inspiration for some members of our Service Workers Club to join the party originally.[27]

"May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future"

Big changes require big struggles, and "May Day 2016 -- Fighting for Our Future" set a powerful and inspiring framework for the labor battles and elections this year.


An enthusiastic and diverse crowd at the King Davis Labor Center in Hartford on May 1 gave a standing ovation to People's World editor John Wojcik whose eloquent and hard-hitting speech quoted extensively from Albert Parsons' last statement made in 1886 before being hanged on a frame-up charge.

The annual People's World celebration included a panel discussion which called upon the Connecticut state legislature to reject an austerity budget with layoffs and cuts in public services and instead increase taxes on the top 1 percent. A large scroll petition signed by all present was delivered to the Speaker of the House the next day.

Tom Connolly, vice president of CSEA Retirees and a member of Better Choices for Connecticut, listed specific choices that could bring in revenue and create savings as an alternative to a budget "that hurts working people and poor people."

Ciro Gutierrez, a building cleaner and member-leader of SEIU 32 BJ who came to the United States from Peru for a better life, exemplified the international struggle for workers' rights, citing the struggle for the eight-hour work day which was won in Peru in 1918. Speaking of the hardships of income inequality on workers today, he upheld the Fight for $15 minimum wage victory in New York state and called for making this an issue in the 2016 presidential election as part of the effort to defeat Donald Trump.

Panelist Alexandra Marks, a New Haven high school student, received a standing ovation after presenting the work of the Young Communist League and New Elm City Dream in the Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All campaign.

Also highlighted were the low-wage workers' April 14 demonstrations for decent pay and work schedules, taking place in dozens of countries and in 320 cities in the US including Hartford.

In his remarks opening the panel, SEIU 32 BJ leader Alberto Bernardez captured the essence of May Day when he paid tribute to low wage workers forced to work multiple jobs today...

Prior to the event, Wojcik spent several days touring Connecticut where he attended Workers' Memorial Day and met with union and community leaders and elected officials including a round table discussion with five members of the New Haven Board of Alders who are also union members and leaders in their unions.[28]

Also in attendance was Kit Salazar-Smith.

Communist Party of Connecticut Members/Supporters 1995

In the CPUSA's newspaper "People's Weekly World" (PWW) edition of November 4, 1995, Page 19, there appeared a greeting to a local CP leader who had moved Florida. The list of people who wished Sid Taylor a "good fight in Florida" were, as reproduced below:

"Happy 80th Birthday Sid Taylor We miss your leadership in Connecticut but we know you're fighting the good fight in Florida With love and comradeship to you and Ann Taylor,

and other friends. We contributed $1000 to the PWW fund drive in your honor END OF GREETING

Hartford clubs

According to Brian Scavetta, in Hartford, Connecticut most clubs are organized by neighborhood. Each neighborhood club has a particular constant political outreach based upon the issues they face.

The Asylum Ave club is focused on finding ways to provide political ideas for youth to get involved. Many adults have joined based upon the need to organize among these young people. Seven new members recently joined the club as a result of invitations to club meetings the club chair made to friends to whom he gives the People’s World. Accompanying this has been the enormous amount of voter registration to change the many policies of the Trump administration that hurt the neighborhood where most everyone is struggling to make ends meet, such as the attack on the Affordable Health Care Act, Social Security and Section 8 housing. The neighborhood is majority African American. The club has 36 members and a core of 8.

The Broad Street club is located in a mostly Puerto Rican neighborhood and has played a role in the election of a Puerto Rican union leader as state representative, including positions in the campaign staff. The club also focuses on the immigrant rights movement, school questions and neighbors needing help for example responding to abusive treatment of tenants by landlords. This club has 10 members and a core of 5.

The North Main club is also located in a majority African American neighborhood with a local focus on police brutality. After helping lead a movement to form a Civilian Review Board in the city, they continue a consistent effort to strengthen it. This club has 40 members and a core of 8. Two long-time People’s World readers have just joined the Party.

All members of the Hartford area neighborhood clubs receive the print newsletter edition of the paper (Connecticut People’s World) every week at their homes as part of the “route.” This allows them to be constantly updated about discussions in the clubs if they can’t attend the meeting. Most of these members have joined the Party through reading the print edition over several years, or through family members already in the Party.

There are two other neighborhood clubs in Hartford similar to the Broad Street club, one in another African American community and the other in an African American/Puerto Rican neighborhood.

Over the years as some comrades have moved to surrounding smaller towns, clubs have been formed in East Hartford and Manchester, and further away in Meriden, expanding the Party’s scope. Localized People’s World routes have been established in the new neighborhoods. Meetings reflect the entire town concern as well.

There is great enthusiasm about the present national membership drive. The Connecticut state committee established a goal of 50 new members in the state in 2018, with at least 35 new members during the drive from May Day to Labor Day. In addition,the goals of the membership drive include establishing neighborhood clubs in three new towns now in the process of forming.

So far 17 new members have joined the neighborhood clubs in Hartford and adjoining towns since May Day. All these new members have joined from neighborhood People’s World routes.

The major discussion and action point is a history making state-wide election campaign for a young, woman, Puerto Rican union organizer with a strong working class agenda. The Hartford area neighborhood clubs as well as the workplace based clubs and neighborhood clubs in other parts of Connecticut are making sure all their members and friends are registered to vote, that they get absentee ballots if needed, and that they have a ride to the polls for the August 14 primary. In addition to helping get thousands of votes through work in unions and other coalitions, the clubs have a goal to bring out 1,000 votes directly.

The Connecticut Communist Party has always maintained a concentration policy for work place and neighborhood clubs. An innovation in the 1970’s was establishing permanent distribution of our newspaper, then the People’s Weekly World, through door-to-door routes by neighborhood clubs to create relationships with those in the neighborhood, opening the door to membership and leadership for the Party. There was a realization that continual readership of the paper would give an understanding of our political line eliminating reaction as well as ultra left. There was also a realization that just understanding our line was not enough, and that trust must be built.

Expectations were met on these points with some adjustments. First trust was built not in weeks or months but in years. Real recruitment came not from all readers but particular readers that then shared knowledge with family and friends, making family recruitment easier and critical. Progress and attachment to the Party was dependent on not using Party jargon but explaining our concepts in ordinary language. Attention was paid to the children when meetings were held, with the result that politics was something the children came to have pleasure learning about. As a result since the innovation on the routes, there are now second, third and fourth generation “red diaper babies,” some now taking leadership in the state committee.

The crisis of everyday living for the working class in these neighborhoods continues and people frequently have to move. It means there has to be a constant effort at recruitment in these neighborhoods. At the same time, those who have moved have started new clubs wherever they are.

As a result of members moving from the Hartford area, clubs now exist in East Hartford, Manchester, Meriden and East Haven. Clubs are now being formed in Middletown and New Britain.

This experience has been critical in the present membership drive for the Hartford area clubs. People are constantly joining from the routes. During the membership drive there is a special effort to get to speak with specific people who are long term readers of People’s World and with whom it has not been possible to speak regularly due to schedules.[29]



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  4. People's Weekly World, July 20, Page 19
  5. People's World Weekly, May Day Supplement, Section 6, 1998
  6. People's Weekly World, May 1, 1999, Page 2
  7. People's Weekly World, May 1, 1999, Page 2
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  9. [
  10. , PW Connecticut over the top in fund drive, by: Evelina Alarcon & John Pappademos December 14 2001
  11. PW Raising spirits and funds from coast to coast, December 19 2003
  12. PW, Weve just begun to fight, by: Dorothy Johnson, December 17 2004
  13. Fundraisers spread peace, joy and thanks Print Email to a Friend by: DOROTHY JOHNSON december 16 2005
  14. PW, Connecticut PWW honors state AFL-CIO, Dorothy Johnson, May 26 2006
  15. PW, Saluting the peoples struggle and the PWW by: Dan Margolis December 21 2007]
  16. PW, Connecticut conference highlights Declaration of Human Rights anniversary by: JOELLE FISHMAN december 2 2008
  17. PW, Connecticut PWW Friends honor workers with Newsmaker Awardsby: Special to the World May 14 2008
  18., PW, New Haven People’s World Amistad award celebration big success, December 8 2009]
  19. [ PW "Force of unity" defends working people's rights by: Joelle Fishman May 6 2011
  20. Peoples World, People's World Amistad Awards inspire action, by: Special to, December 6 2012
  21., MARCHING ON for Jobs, Freedom & Peace — The People’s World Amistad Awards 4 p.m. Dec. 1, New Haven- Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World, October 29, 2013
  22. PW. Amistad Awards inspire unity and struggle, December 6 2013
  23. Labor 2014 celebrates Connecticut election victory by: Joelle Fishman November 26 2014
  24. Amistad Awards show what solidarity looks like, December 11 2014
  25. Youth march and celebration inspires struggle for equality, by: JOELLE FISHMAN]
  26. [ PW, Connecticut Communist Party adopts Economic Bill of Rights by: Special to May 16 2014]
  27. CPUSA Ways by: Tom Connolly March 20 2014 tags: 30th National Convention, CPUSA, Convention Discussion
  28. Hartford's "Fighting for Our Future" rally inspires struggleby: JOELLE FISHMAN may 23 2016
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