Joelle Fishman

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Joelle Fishman

Joelle Fishman chairs the Connecticut Communist Party USA. She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations.

She was a candidate for Congress from 1973 to 1982, maintaining minor-party ballot status for the Communist Party in Connecticut's Third Congressional District. As chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission[1].

...she has played an active role in the broad labor and people's alliance that defeated the ultra-right in the 2008 elections and continues to mobilize for health care, worker rights and peace.

She is married to Art Perlo, the son of late Soviet spy Victor Perlo.



New Haven People's Center coordinator Joelle Fishman was born in 1946 in the working- class town of Camden, New Jersey, to George Fishman and Edie Fishman, both children of Jewish immigrants from Philadelphia. After graduating from Douglass College, at that time the women’s college at Rutgers, Joelle Fishman moved to New Haven in 1968 and has lived in the West River area ever since. She met her husband Art Perlo in the early 1970s while taking classes in Manhattan, and they have been married for 36 years.

Joelle Fishman’s shift into politics began at Douglass College, where she joined the local W.E.B. DuBois Club, a CPUSA-sponsored youth group. She also tried her hand at journalism, editing the college newspaper and documenting life in the local housing projects. By the time graduation rolled around in 1968, she knew that her future would have little to do with her B.A. in speech pathology. “Doing that work required all of my energy and attention and skills,” she says. “It took everything out of me, and I didn’t want that to be my whole life.”

Upon graduating, she moved to New Haven, where she met Sid Taylor, the plumber who then chaired the CPUSA’s Connecticut chapter. He organized her first job in the party, running the chapter’s bookstore on Broadway. Soon enough, she was commuting to New York for classes at a party-run school in Manhattan.

From its early stages, the party proved a breeding ground for some of the most important friendships in Joelle Fishman’s life. One was with Sid Taylor, who acted as her mentor during her early years in the party. Every day for the four years she ran the bookstore, she would call him at 4:00 p.m. and pick his brain on current events. “He was a fabulous human being,” she says, “a worker-scholar.” Meanwhile, down in Manhattan, she became friends with a party organizer from Westchester County named Art Perlo, and they eventually married.

She would run for Congress in Connecticut’s Third District every two years from 1974 to 1982, with her best campaign in 1976, when she received 1.7% of the vote.[2]

Key to City

Joelle Fishman receives "Key to City" from Mayor Toni Harp of New Haven in December 2019

Joelle Fishman was awarded the "Key to the city" of New Haven by Mayor Toni Harp at a holiday party shortly after receiving further accolades from the Mayor during the annual "People’s World Amistad Awards rally" held in New Haven City Hall in December 2019.[3]

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—There was electricity in the air at New Haven City Hall on Dec. 14 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 Toni 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 Toni 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.

Photos from the event are available at the Facebook event page “People’s World Amistad Awards 2019.” Remarks are being posted at A full video of the event will be made available before the end of the year.

Hearting Obama

The CPUSA has not put up candidates for the seat since Fishman stopped running. She speaks highly of 1982 victor Bruce Morrison and his successor, current Rep. Rosa DeLauro, and she’s also a steadfast supporter of Barack Obama, a man who has lost much of the left’s confidence since he took office in 2009. She went door- to-door for him in 2008, writing on CT CPUSA’s blog that his election represented a chance to “uproot ultra- right corporate political dominance.” Today, she sees the Tea Party as the real villains of the past three years. “When you look at the things that have been accomplished in the face of that,” she says, “I find it amazing.”

Defending Obama brings out in Fishman an ideological flexibility surprising for a leader of a movement often caricatured for rigid thinking. Conservative efforts to label Obama a socialist are “ridiculous,” she says angrily, “because that’s not what he is. But it’s also ridiculous,” she continues, because it’s suggesting that “socialism is a bad word, which it’s not, and which loads of people in this country are coming to understand.” Joelle believes that Obama is only the first step. The real change will come later.[4]

Remembering MLK

In January 2010, people gathered at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in New Haven to march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The veritable anthem of the civil rights movement, "we shall overcome," rang through the streets as the group marched through East Rock neighborhood, each with a special story to tell.

"I had been in DC in 1963 during the great civil rights march in which Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' speech," Joelle Fishman of New Haven said. "I had picketed in front of the Woolworths 5 & 10 stores against segregation and I was part of the civil rights movement, and so this was the way of keeping that movement alive and growing."

"Dr. Martin Luther King was a man for justice for all people," Kathy Bridges of Hamden said. "I feel the same way. I feel taking part in this day is living Dr. King's dream."[5]

Communist Party Labor Day call

The Communist Party USA paper People's Weekly World issued a statement to mark Labor Day 1995, entitled "We honor the dead and fight like hell for the living."

Of the more than 100 endorsers listed, almost all were identified members of the Communist Party USA.

Joelle Fishman, Connecticut, was on the list.[6]

Endorsed Communist Party Call

Joelle Fishman, center

On March 30 2002 the Communist Party USA paper People’s Weekly World called for a national holiday in honor of late Farm Workers Union leader Cesar Chavez. The article was followed by a long list of endorsers[7]including Joelle Fishman, Almost all endorsers were confirmed members of the Communist Party USA.

Joelle Fishman is a prominent Connecticut Communist Party USA activist and chair of the CPUSA’s Political Action Commission.

In January 31 2004 Fishman addressed the addressed[8] the Communist Party's conference on the 2004 elections in New York City.

The all-out mobilization to defeat Bush on Nov. 2 is not an end-point. It is a critical and necessary step along the way to much bigger change. There is need for a labor and people’s party in this country that is not beholden to corporate dollars, but rather is people powered and in a position to challenge corporate monopoly head-on.
This intensive year of activity should be carried out in a way that builds a lasting movement able to take on issues of war, poverty and inequality no matter who wins. Such a development would open many new doors for local, state and national independent politics and candidates.

Supporting Obama in '08

Joelle Fishman's role in the Communist Party USA's Political Action Commission gives her responsibility for organising party support for "progressive" Democratic Party candidates at the state, congressional, senate and presidential level.

Like virtually all Communist Party USA members, Joelle Fishman personally campaigned for Barack Obama.

Joelle Fishman writing in the Connecticut Communist Party's CT People Before Profits Blog November 2 2008.[9];

It was enjoyable to knock on doors and find voters who were enthusiastic and inspired by Obama’s historic candidacy, like the teacher who said her whole family was spreading the word. There were several families of divided opinion and others who declined to say. The most challenging conversations were with voters who did not want to support Obama because they were caught up in the lies and rumors undermining his integrity and patriotism. Those who were ready to discuss appreciated the comparison of McCain’s anti-worker record with Obama’s near perfect score.
It was exciting to be part of the quarter million union volunteers across the country, the biggest election mobilization in labor’s history, which has influenced the political climate in working class swing states and districts, laying the basis for a much larger labor movement.
The example set by labor’s top leaders talking directly with white sisters and brothers about how Obama represents their best chance for a secure future will have a lasting impact...
This year the chance to uproot ultra-right corporate political dominance is much greater. Voters want to be part of history. They see that the policies of the Bush administration, which McCain-Palin would continue, are bankrupting the country and endangering the world.
Labor’s giant effort along with massive organizing by African American, Latino, women’s and youth groups has turned historically Republican states’ House and Senate seats into battlegrounds, including the Senate seat in New Hampshire.
A landslide victory for Obama and Congress will open the door for big new struggles to organize workers into unions and place the needs of working families front and center in this economic crisis.

Speech at Amistad Awards

Joelle Fishman speaking

On December 6, 2009, Fishman spoke at the 2009 Amistad Awards which was held at the New Haven People's Center.

Peace Commission

The City of New Haven Peace Commission is an organ of the City of Hartford Connecticut. It was organized in the 1980s by Communist Party USA leader Alfred Marder and has been infiltrated by local communists ever since.

Members in 2009;[10]

Latinos for Peace

On October 31 2009, Latinos For Peace issued a statement calling for “no escalation of the war in Afghanistan and for expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as an end to the coup government in Honduras”.

More than 100 activists endorsed the call, including Joelle Fishman.[11]

Alfred L. Marder 90th Birthday Celebration

The March 2012 Host Committee, in honor of Connecticut Communist Party USA member Alfred Marder's 90th Birthday Celebration, held at the New Haven People's Center consisted of;

Hon. Rosa DeLauro, Sen. Toni Harp, Sen. Martin Looney, Rep. Juan Candelaria, Rep. Patricia Dillon, Rep. Toni Edmonds Walker, Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, Rep. Roland Lemar, Ald. Jorge Perez, President, New Haven Board of Aldermen, Ambassador Sylvester Rowe, Mohammed Barrie, Vinie Burrows, Mary Compton, Joelle Fishman, Craig Gauthier, Emanuel Gomez, Hilda Kilpatrick, Henry Lowendorf, Kenneth Marder, Rev. Scott Marks,William Morico, John Olsen, Quentin Snediker, Jarvis Tyner, Andrea van den Heever, Susan Yolen

A statement issued on the committee's behalf read;[12]

Dear Friends and Family of Al Marder,
We are excited to invite you to celebrate the 90th birthday of Al Marder and to recognize his many contributions, international and local, toward world peace, justice and equality.
Please join us in this joyous occasion on Sunday, March 18, at 3:00 pm at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06511.

Immigration rally arrest

More than 20,000 people - including thousands of unionists -- who marched down the Washington, D.C., Mall on Oct. 8, 2013, to demand the U.S. House immediately pass comprehensive immigration reform. And 200, including 90 union leaders and union members and eight members of the House of Representatives were arrested when, in an act of civil disobedience, they blocked a street in front of the Capitol.

Arrestees included Lisa Bergmann, SEIU 1199 member Delphine Clyburn and activist Joelle Fishman, both also from Connecticut, Communications Workers Secretary-Treasurer Annie Hall and Political Director Yvette Herrera, The Newspaper Guild's president, Bernie Lunzer, and Paul Booth, the top assistant to AFSCME's president. Among the nation's top labor leaders also taken into custody were AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Unite Here President D. Taylor and Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

Among the lawmakers arrested were Reps.Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), John Lewis (D-Ga.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Joseph Crowley (D - N.Y.), Al Green (D-Texas), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Unions, led by contingents from the Service Employees and their Local 32BJ, the Laborers and Unite Here, contributed a large share of the demonstrators. Other unions represented included AFSCME, the Communications Workers/TNG, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, AFT and the United Farm Workers. [13]

Communist Party speaker

Speak Progress is the speakers bureau of the Communist Party USA. Listed speakers, as of October 2014, included Joelle Fishman[14]

Joelle Fishman is the chair of the Communist Party, USA’s Political Action Commission and the district organizer for the Connecticut Communist Party.
She is a Commissioner on the City of New Haven Peace Commission, serves on the executive board of the Alliance of Retired Americans in Connecticut and is an active member of many economic rights and social justice organizations.
She was a candidate for Congress from 1973 to 1982, maintaining minor-party ballot status for the Communist Party in Connecticut’s Third Congressional District.

New member phone bank


New member phone bank Public · Hosted by Communist Party USA.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 at 11 AM - 4 PM EDT

Your living room

We're organizing a phonebank to our new members on Saturday and we need your help. The callfire service allow you to make the calls from home, using your smartphone, laptop or deskstop. You'll get a real charge from talking to them! Aint' nuthin like it!! Please click "going" if you can make calls! Thanks!

Those invited to participate on on Facebook included Joelle Fishman.

CPUSA National Office


Pat Barile, lower right, with some of his co-workers at the CPUSA National Office, April 1977. Top row, from left: Joelle Fishman, Ken Newcomb, Beth Edelman, Betty Smith, Ed Teixeira, Margaret Cann, and Lee Dlugin. Bottom row, from left: Henry Winston, Jake Green, and Arnold Becchetti.