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Front Page » Table of Contents » Grassroots Activism

By Angelo Lopez on December 12, 2011

In the past couple of weeks, I've been following the local Occupy Wall Street movements that have sprouted up in the area. About fifty miles to the north, Occupy San Francisco and Occupy Oakland have been causing big news with their clashes with the police and their large scale protests. I've been participating with protests closer to home, donating food to the Occupy San Jose encampment, and joining rallies in Occupy Palo Alto and Occupy Mountain View. I've been a fervent follower of the Occupy Wall Street protests because I share their fears about the growing economic inequalities in this country and agree with their criticisms of the financial institutions. As the holiday season gets underway, a perenniel Christmas chestnut is playing across the nation's playhouses and schools and it shares the same criticisms of economic injustice as the Occupy Wall Street protests. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" shares with the Occupy Wall Street protests an indignation of economic injustice and asks us to help relieve the plight of the victims of our economic system.

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By Angelo Lopez on August 14, 2011

Last Wednesday, I dropped by the offices of California Representative Mike Honda to attend a gathering of political activists to ask Mike Honda and our government representatives to focus more on creating jobs. I had received an email from Move On that this was part of a nationwide grassroots effort called "Jobs Not Cuts" to try to shift the government focus from cutting vital social services and focus instead on job creation. It was a moderately attended gathering, about thirty people from different walks of life who care deeply about the issue.

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By Diane Wahto on June 14, 2011

In the 1960s, during the heat of the civil rights, student rights and anti-war movements, women, both black and white, found themselves relegated to the domestic side of leftist activism. Much to the surprise and disgust of leftist activist women, left-wing males let movement women know that their role was to cook, clean, make the coffee, and make themselves available for sex whenever the men wanted it. Author Gail Collins covers this issue in her book, When Everything Changed, an overview of the women’s movement during the last fifty years.

Not every man treated every woman as a subservient being, but the treatment was widespread enough that many women finally decided to form their own movement groups, giving birth to the Second Wave of the women’s liberation movement.

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By Angelo Lopez on May 28, 2011

On May 1, 2011, I went to downtown San Jose, California to participate in a march for immigrant rights. It is an important issue for me as the child of Filipino immigrants to support the rights of Latino immigrants, especially since many of these immigrants have been exploited for their cheap labor while being denied many rights to redress injustices inflicted upon them. It's something that other immigrant groups from past have suffered through as well, from the Chinese and Irish immigrants of the nineteenth century to the Filipino, Japanese and Mexican immigrants of the twentieth century. I only began attending public demonstrations about two years ago, when I first attended a vigil for health care reform, and I've learned a lot from walking with activists and listening to their stories.

In American history, there is a proud tradition of grassroots activism, of the early abolitionists, women suffragists, labor organizers, civil rights protesters, antiwar activists, and feminists. I think the people who participated in the immigrants rights march are in the spirit of the early Founding Fathers who wanted an involved and active citizenry willing to petition for their rights.

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By Diane Wahto on April 10, 2011

Name of the game seems to be ‘sock it to the working people and protect the rich even more.'
The note card was piled among other notes, letters, and bulletin board items that I had boxed up when I retired from full time teaching in 2001 and moved out of my office in 100 building at Butler Community College. On the front of the card was a reproduction of a Van Gogh painting, The Auvers Stairs with Five Figures. When I opened the card, I saw the neat, small script of my mother’s handwriting, still familiar to me so many years after her death.

From the time I left home to the time her mind became too clouded with Alzheimer’s disease to do so, my mother wrote to me once or twice a week, newsy letters about family, friends, and neighbors. We kept up a long, steady correspondence during the years before e-mail ended the practice of letter writing.

My mother did not have a college education, but she was intelligent, artistic, and adept at math. At one point she went to business college, taking enough classes to allow her to work as a bookkeeper at the Empire District Electric Company. Then, after all us kids grew up and left home, she began working as a tax preparer.

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By Stuart Elliott on April 1, 2011

On April 5 — one day after the We Are One rallies -- over 175 college campuses in 37 states will be participating in a national teach-in on debt, austerity, and corporate greed.

The teach-in is being organized by two long-time pro-labor public intellectuals, sociologist Francis Fox Piven and philosopher Cornell West.

Scheduled for April 5th at 2 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Savings Time), the event seeks to counter the drumbeat of right-wing propaganda. Content will be streamed live to teach-ins organized in local communities from the national teach-in at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. The local teach-ins will use the streamed material and add their own speakers that focus on their community. DSA has endorsed this program and is encouraging local groups and YDS chapters to organize local events that connect to the national teach-in. Jobs with Justice, the Student Labor Action Project, and others are promoting the teach-in.

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By Angelo Lopez on March 31, 2011

Over the past month, the eyes of the nation has been transfixed by the fight going on in Wisconsin for workers to preserve their right for collective bargaining. Workers have gradually been losing bargaining powers as unions have been in decline for the past 30 years. As I read about the protests in Wisconsin, I began thinking of Charlie Chaplin's movie Modern Times.

When Chaplin was creating Modern Times, the United States was deep in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Depression had its starting point in the Wall Street Crash of October 24, 1929. From October 24 to October 29, 1929, the market lost $30 billion in value. In July 1933 some $74,000,000,000, or five-sixths of the value of the stock market of September 1929 disappeared. The American Federation of Labor recorded the rise in unemployment: unemployment in October 1930 was 4,639,000; in October 1931 unemployment was 7,778,000; in October 1932 unemployment was 11,586,000; in early 1933 employment was over 13,000,000. The nation's industrial production in 1932 was 47 percent below normal. Between 1929 and 1932, farm values declined 33 percent and farmer's gross income declined 57 percent.

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By John Atlas on February 3, 2011

John F. Kennedy famously said: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

With you I am watching the people of Egypt and other Arab nations try to step out from under the boot of tyranny. I hope it’s not too late for Obama to seek out and support the civic activists throughout the Middle East who want justice, and to live in a free society.

While many in the Islamic world, including those in the streets, are dangerous anti-American and anti-Israel religious fanatics, to the surprise of most Americans I bet, many others are concerned about getting things like good jobs and their children an education.

Many involved in the demonstrations are poor, factory workers and jobless. But also on the front lines are professors, members of soccer clubs, workers in human rights groups, and in places like the Al-Nakheel Association for Women and Children. They are journalists, lawyers, religious moderates, secular leftists, union organizers, bloggers, filmmakers and artists, some of whom, from their space in the civil society, have fought the despots, without much help from the United States, and usually paid dearly.

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By Angelo Lopez on February 2, 2011

I've always admired the Quakers. I admire the Quakers because they have always been among the first advocates of the various civil rights movements that have weaved its way through our American history: they were in the forefront of the abolitionist movement, the right of women to vote, and the antiwar movement. Around three years ago, I attended two Quaker services in San Jose, California, and found it to be a really meditative service. Though I eventually became an Episcopalian, my admiration for the Friends remains. The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker group that was founded in 1917 during World War I. Since its founding, the AFSC has continued to put Quaker values into action in our country and around the world.

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By Angelo Lopez on December 24, 2010

Last week was both a happy time and a sad time for me as I read the news of Congress. Last Saturday, Congress voted 65 to 31 to pass a stand alone bill repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, after the House passed the bill 250 to 174. It was an important promise that President Obama kept for the 13,000 military soldiers who have been dismissed since the Don't Ask Don't Tell was implemented in the Clinton administration. Sadly, though, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, better known as the DREAM Act, was voted down 55 to 41, falling shy of the 60 votes required to limit debate and move forward, essentially killing the legislation for this congressional session. The measure would have offered young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they pursue a college degree or enlist in the armed forces. For myself, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell and the fight for the Dream Act were both important civil rights issues and while I was happy about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, I was sad about the failure of the Dream Act to pass the Congress.

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