Joe Gelders Frantz
Joe Gelders frantz was named after his grandfather, a physics professor in Alabama who became a leader of the Communist Party USA there during the '30s. Joe’s parents were active Communist organizers in the South and then in California.
In 1967 Frantz was active at Berkeley when he joined the drive to register the Peace and Freedom Party on the state ballot. He became involved with the Independent Socialist Club, forerunner of the International Socialists.
Frantz dropped out of college. He chaired a huge rally in May 1970, the day after the Kent State students were killed protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Frantz led the crowd through the UC buildings calling students out on strike, effectively shutting down much of the university that day.
Cross country organizing
In the early ‘70s Joe with a number of others from the Berkeley IS moved to Detroit as part of an effort to build a revolutionary socialist current in the working class. He worked for a time in the GM Fleetwood Assembly Plant. He helped build new International Socialist branches, spending months in Pittsburgh giving classes. In this period he and Karen Kassirer married and divorced.
In 1975 Frantz moved to Wheeling to take a job in the coal mines. There was considerable local antipathy to the socialists.
Political work at the Wheeling mines was not successful so he moved. In 1977 Frantz began working at Inland Steel in Gary, Indiana. He made it through the apprenticeship and became a motor inspector (electrician). He was active in the Steel workers, USWA 1010, and became a griever (steward) for the #7 Blast Furnace, the largest in North America. He was active in the national reform caucus inside the Steel Workers, which had won the Steel Workers District with Jim Balanoff as District Director.
Anti nuclear activism
Frantz's most significant activity activity came through the Local 1010 environment committee. He represented this committee in the Bailey Alliance, a movement to stop the construction of a nuclear power plant on the Indiana shores of Lake Michigan in the early 1980s. A unique feature of this coalition in opposition to the nuclear plant was that it was led by steelworkers and utility workers who would have operated the plant.
The anti-nuclear work became Frantz's passion. Frantz representated of the Bailey Alliance at anti-nuke events across the country. The movement stopped construction on the plant and nuclear power became a dead issue. During this work he met and married Brenda Yoels, who he later divorced.
In December 1982 the couple moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Frantz decided that he wanted to be a teacher- he went back to school.
As a teacher, Joe become interested in bilingual education and started observations in bilingual classrooms as part of his teaching studies. He met Gladys Lazo, a bilingual teacher at Glen Park School in San Francisco. Joe and Gladys began a relationship and married in 1989.
Frantz started out teaching 6th grade. He moved to McAteer High school in San Francisco and taught math and government, then the school computer "guru". Later he took a leave to work with a consulting group that introduced computers into schools, but the company failed with the dot-com bubble burst.
Joe was hired by the Emery school district as a technical specialist. He quickly rose to become a Director of Curriculum and Special Projects, Assistant Superintendent, and then Chief Business Officer.
In later years Frantz was not politically active.
- He generally supported the Greens but was alienated by the “campaign to lose” 2004 strategy. Early on he saw the powerful impact that the Obama campaign had on the African-American community. At the same time he understood the role of the Democratic Party in maintaining the oppression he witnessed daily.