Center for Political Education

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Template:TOCnestleft The Center for Political Education (CPE) was created to fill a "void" with space and tools necessary for leftist organizers to analyze current political, economic and social trends for revolutionary change. It was founded in 1998 and has conducted over 200 classes, educational forums, study groups, and dialogues.

CPE is fiscally sponsored by the Kendra Alexander Foundation and is supported by grants from KAF, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco and many individual supporters.[1]

CPE Staff

Center for Political Education, 2018 Co-Directors: Isaac Ontiveros and Rachel Herzing. [2]

Isaac comes to the CPE with experience that spans media and communications, publishing, anti-violence, labor, and anti-prison industrial complex organizing and advocacy. He also facilitated CPE’s recent assessment process. Rachel was a CPE collective member from 2002-2007 and brings experience working in movements against the prison industrial complex, the anti-violence movement, and for youth development.

"What We Do"

The CPE is one of the main focal points for the San Francisco left[3];

The Center for Political Education is a resource for political organizations on the left, progressive social movements, the working class and people of color.

It is anchored by a collective of individuals active in day-to-day struggles in the Bay Area. Our political approach is non-sectarian, democratic, and committed to a critical analysis of local, regional and global politics. We believe that the current political conditions call for organizing and movement building, and that theory and ideas are important tools for movement building.

We are committed to providing a left space and perspective for organizers and activists. We often co-sponsor events relating to left theory and strategy with other organizations.

Marxist philosophy

CPE is openly Marxist[4];

We are a resource for political organizations on the left, progressive movements, the working class and people of color. We believe that the current political conditions call for organizing and movement building, and that theory and ideas are important tools for movement building. We are committed to providing a left space and perspective. Our collective thought is diverse and comes from a variety of political schools. We look to various revolutionary thinkers and organizers, including Marx, for inspiration and critical review. The Center for Political Education is internationalist, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist. We believe in international solidarity and use our educational forums as one way to build support for liberation, labor, racial justice, environmental and political struggles throughout the world. We view the struggles for gender equality and against racism, sexism, homophobia, and heterosexism as integral to all forms of political struggle. The Center for Political Education is a collective whose members are active in day-to-day struggles in the Bay Area and bring their perspective to the vision of the Center for Political Education.

Communist Party origins

CPE was initiated by activists from the Communist Party USA spin-off Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, particualy Bill Sorro and his wife Giuliana Milanese[5].

The Center for Political Education began with discussions around the Sorro-Milanese kitchen table, in 1997, which included a broad range of activists from the Bay Area Left. This grouping of established community activists, organizers, cultural workers, writers and educators engaged in a series of dialogues to analyze the left movement and the future of movement-building in the U.S. and particularly the Bay Area. The need was clear: organizers did not have a consistent left space to analyze current political, economic and social trends. This affected our ability to articulate and create strong, clear organizing and political strategies that would result in revolutionary change.
From these dialogues emerged a vision: to develop a center dedicated to building strong movements and the left through education, analysis, theory, dialogue, and activism.

Communist Party roots

Committees of Correspondence members founded CPE out of the assets of "522 Valencia", which was formerly headquarters of the local Communist Party USA. The assets were taken by the Kendra Alexander Foundation-named in honor of the late Communist Party USA turned Committees of Correspondence leader Kendra Alexander[6].

522 Valencia became a movement resource in the early 1970s, commonly associated with the Communist Party USA. The CPUSA published the national newspaper People’s World out of 522 Valencia. In 1994, a broad spectrum of left activists, most of whom were no longer in the CPUSA, took on the responsibility of the building and the associated assets. They formed the Kendra Alexander Foundation, in honor of Kendra Alexander, long-time organizer and agitator who passed away in May, 1993, to oversee this invaluable movement resource.

"People Get Ready"

People Get Ready: A One-Day Convening on Beating the Right, Strengthening the Left, and Building Power.

Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 1 PM EST – 7 PM EST Hosted by Center for Political Education and Haymarket Books.

UNRAVELING THE RIGHT: A Class for Organizers and Activists in the Trump Era

In June 2019, the Center for Political Education sent an invitation to sign up for organizing to fight the "far-right":[7]

"Does the rise of white nationalism keep you awake at night? Are you troubled by the ascent to power of so many authoritarian leaders across the globe? Do you want to understand today’s right wing better and strengthen your organizing strategies to help drive it back?
"If so, join CPE this summer for this four-session class. The class will meet Thursday evenings from 7-9pm on July 18, July 25, August 1 and August 8 at 518 Valencia Street in San Francisco. The sessions will cover:
"The right’s ideas and goals, the particular forms authoritarianism takes in the U.S., the left’s conceptual and practical tool-box for understanding and defeating the far right;
"Historical lessons from past experience fighting fascism and the right;
"The international picture: contemporary fights against racist nationalist projects across the globe;
"The current U.S. landscape, strategies for building a winning anti-right coalition and the particular responsibilities of activists in the Bay Area.
"This class will be led by CPE co-director Rachel Herzing and Revolution in the Air author Max Elbaum, and will feature guest speakers with expertise on some of the issues highlighted above.

Apply Today!

"Space in Unraveling the Right will be limited. If you’re interested in participating, please take a moment to fill out this application form thoroughly by July 1, so we can get a sense of who you are and why you are interested in taking this class. While everyone should feel free to apply for this class, preference will be given to members of people of color-led organizations and working class and people of color communities."


According to a Facebook invitation,[8] the following were interested or invited to the class.



Eric Quezada PRESENTE!

Celebrate Eric Quezada and 15 Years of the Center for Political Education Thursday, December 12 2013, at Mission Neighborhood Center

Friends of Eric Quezada and the Center for Political Education invite you to a community celebration of Eric’s life on the occasion of his 48th birthday and the 15th anniversary of the Center for Political Education.

Celebrate Eric’s contributions to SF-based struggles for social and economic justice, which continue to resonate long after his passing in 2011.


In 1998, Eric Quezada and others founded the CPE at a kitchen table meeting in Bernal Heights. Fifteen years later, the CPE continues to serve as a resource for the San Francisco left, by organizing workshops, talks and community events on topics essential to building strong, conscious social movements.

Proceeds benefit The Center for Political Education)

Host committee: Jason Ferreira, Oscar Grande, Fernando Marti, Huli Milanese, Wendy Phillips, Francisco Ugarte and the CPE Collective.[9]

"Claim No Easy Victories"

The Center for Political Education April 17, 2014.

APRIL 28th! Join the The Center for Political Education, LeftRoots, and SFSU's Race and Resistance Studies for "Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral" Book Talk w/ Bill Fletcher, Jr., Maria Poblet, Walter Turner and N'Tanya Lee.


At 518 Valencia: The Eric Quezada Center for Culture and Politics! — with Michelle Foy, Fernando Marti, Jason Ferreira, Carolina Morales, Camilo Sol Zamora, Kalexa Hella Zapantista, Walter Turner, N'Tanya Lee, Bill Fletcher, Jr., La More Rivas, Mari Posa, Jason Chipsnguac, Steve Williams, Maria Poblet and Yeiber Cano.

Political Regeneration and Hope in Mexico


Political Regeneration and Hope in Mexico, Public · Hosted by Sarah Jarmon and Isaac Ontiveros, Bruce Hobson, Doug Monica, Michelle Foy.

Saturday, July 21 (2018) at 4 PM PDT.

Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC).

Sponsored by Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Center for Political Education.

Javier Bravo, professor of history at the University of Guanajuato, México and representative for México’s left party, MORENA (National Regeneration Movement -- Movimiento Regeneración Nacional) will speak on the post election situation and political crisis in México.

In a landslide, Andres Manuel López Obrador, won México’s July 1 presidential election. As the dominant political parties flood the country with lies and fearmongering about México’s ruin under an AMLO administration, the United States is freaking out about the prospect losing a critical neoliberal partner in Latin America.

What does this victory mean for Mexican@s at home and in the USA? How must the US Left show solidarity?[10]

Invited on Facebook



External links