George Edwards Memorial Event Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 29

Staff, New Haven Independent, Sept. 30, 2022

New Haveners will have a chance to share their memories of the late Black Panther and social justice advocate George Edwards at an event set for Saturday, Oct. 29.

Edwards, possibly the most spied-on and messed-with activist in town and omnipresence at public events, died Sept. 16 at the age of 85. (Read a full story about his life at www.newhavenindependent.org/article/panther_passes_on)

George Edwards at a 2016 Hip-Hop Conference. Photo David Yaffe-Bellany

The state tried to frame George Edwards and lock him up for life. His fellow revolutionaries tortured him and tried to kill him. They didn’t know whom they were messing with. He survived — and kept at his Black Panther mission for another half century long after generations of fellow fighters left the theater.

It was kidney cancer that finally claimed the life of George Edwards. Until his final months, he remained one of New Haven’s most visible and engaging voices, challenging power and supporting grassroots social justice crusades.

The memorial event in his honor will take place at the Q House, 197 Dixwell Ave from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. His daughter Elizabeth Dickerson asks anyone wishing to speak at the event to contact her in advance at liz_dickerson@ sbcglobal.net. Attendees are also encouraged to bring gently used clothing to the event to be distributed to the needy.

A GoFundMe drive at www.gofundme.com/f/a-panther-passes-on?qid=7a85d1598883d37c6f39445c1186572c has been established to help pay for funeral costs. Some money will also go toward placing Edwards’ name on a brick at the Q House.

[George Edwards was an extraordinary and compassionate activist. Many, if not most, of PAR’s readers, worked with him on justice and community issues in New Haven. In almost six decades, we have no doubt he touched the lives of tens of thousands of New Haven residents, activists and Yale students. “The students are here for only four years and then they go all over the world. I’m going to train them
to be activists while I have this chance.” George was a mentor to many and held steadfast to the principles of the original Black Panthers. In addition to his work in the Black Panther Party, he played a core role in New Haven’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa, organized many annual May Day celebrations on the New Haven Green, spoke out and organized against police brutality, was a
supporter of Palestinian rights, demonstrated against the various wars, bombings and invasions the U.S. carried out — Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc., demanded the release of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other U.S. political prisoners, had a weekly show on CTV where he introduced viewers to activism, history and the current events of the day and taught them how to analyze, protested against nuclear power, was an AIDS-prevention activist and worked at the New Haven Needle Ex-change Project, and when the pandemic began, he gave out masks, condoms, water bottles and gloves to people from his front porch. In addition to the New Haven Independent, George has been featured in the New Haven Register many times through the years and the New York Times. This is a brief description of the work George did and the causes he took on.]

 

George Edwards, Black Panther and Lifelong Revolutionary July 31, 1937-Sept. 16, 2022

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of George Edwards, an extraordinary and compassionate activist. Many, if not most, of PAR’s readers, worked with him on justice and community issues in New Haven. In almost six decades, we have no doubt he touched the lives of tens of thousands of New Haven residents, activists and Yale students. “The students are here for only four years and then they go all over the world. I’m going to train them to be activists while I have this chance.” He was a mentor to many and held steadfast to the principles of the original Black Panthers. In addition to his work in the Black Panther Party, he played a core role in New Haven’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa, organized many annual May Day celebrations on the New Haven Green, spoke out and organized against police brutality, was a supporter of Palestinian rights, demonstrated against the various wars, bombings and invasions the U.S. carried out — Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Afghanistan, etc., demanded the release of Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and all other U.S. political prisoners, had a weekly show on CTV where he introduced viewers to activism, history and the current events of the day and taught them how to analyze, protested against nuclear power, was an AIDS-prevention activist and worked at the New Haven Needle Exchange Project, and when the pandemic began, he gave out masks, condoms, water bottles and gloves to people from his front porch. This is a brief description of the work he did and the causes he took on.

In Memoriam: Hazel Williams, Newhallville Organizer. Oct. 18, 1944-Aug. 27, 2022

Hazel Williams, a native of Brunswick, Georgia, moved to New Haven in 1968. She was a top-notch organizer in the Newhallville community, and deeply concerned about helping the well-being of all. Our sympathy to her family, her friends, and to everyone whose lives she touched.

The following excerpts are from the New Haven Register article of Sept. 3, written by Mark Zaretsky. Read the entire article at https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-s-Hazel-Williams-recalled-as-17416113.php.

Hazel V. Williams

Hazel V. Williams, founder of Newhallville’s Pond Street Block Watch, was a passionate advocate for neighbors taking responsibility for their neighborhoods, a gardener extraordinaire and — not to be minimized — master of all things baking and dessert-like.

“She was a fierce advocate for people in the community standing up and taking ownership of their block,” and was adamant “that people should participate” in the political process, said Barbara Vereen, the city’s 20th Ward Democratic Committee co-chairwoman.

“We have a lot of people who stand up and talk about it,” Vereen said. But Williams “actually did the work. She told you like it is. She did not hold back,” but she always gave advice “in a caring, loving way.”

“‘Fierce’ is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my dear friend Hazel,” who could be a “mom, aunt, sister all rolled up in one,” said friend Letitia Charles. “To me, Hazel embodied a Sister Warrior and Mother Earth!”

Williams and the block watch also collaborated with the Yale School of Forestry and the Black Student Alliance at Yale to plant daffodils throughout the neighborhood.

The work they did together helped reduce crime in the Pond Street neighborhood, located on the Newhallville-Hamden line, to zero for 26 straight years. The success of the Pond Street Block Watch was one of the cornerstones of the city’s presentation when New Haven won the national All-America City designation in a competition in Mobile, Ala., in June 1998.

Read the entire article at https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/New-Haven-s-Hazel-Williams-recalled-as-17416113.php.

 

In Memoriam: Semi Semi-Dikoko, ‘The Mayor of Westville,’ July 27, 1953-Sept. 8, 2022

by Lucy Gellman, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, Arts Paper

Semi Semi-Dikoko was born in Congo, worked in many countries and moved to New Haven in 1991. Our condolences to his family and to his large community of friends. He was an artist, a computer analyst with IBM, played flute and trombone, lived in Brussels, Belgium, and Bremen, Germany. In addition to English, he spoke German, French, Japanese, Bantu, and Swahili. He was president of the Friends of Edgewood Park, and he had a pilot’s license. He was friendly, warm and engaging, and had a wide and deep presence in New Haven, especially in Westville.

The following excerpts are from the article Lucy Gellman wrote for the Sept. 14, 2022 Arts Paper. You can read it in its entirety at www.newhavenarts.org/arts-paper/articles/the-mayor-of-westville-new-haven-mourns-remembers-semi-semi-dikoko.

Semi Semi-Dikoko, a tireless advocate for the arts who blessed New Haven with three decades of a gentle and gen-erous spirit, died at Smilow Cancer Hospital. The cause was prostate cancer, which Semi-Dikoko had been fighting bravely and often quietly for four years. In the past decade, he also battled lymphoma, which was until recently in remission. He was 69 years old.

Semi Semi-Dikoko with David Sepulveda and Aleta Staton at the Arts Awards in December 2012. Photo: Judy Sirota Rosenthal. Photo used with permission from the photographer.

“Semi just touched so many lives,” said his friend and studio mate David Sepulveda. The two, who shared a studio at West River Arts, were so close they often seemed like two halves of the same, vibrantly beating heart.

He was trained as a systems architect and consultant, who worked for IBM, Fujitsu Americas, Deutsche Bank, NASA, and Southern New England Telecommunications (SNET) among others. He was a dedicated public servant, whose thousands of volunteer hours spanned Friends of Edgewood Park to Artspace New Haven to the Westville Village Renaissance Alliance. For most of his friends, he was Semi, a warm and constant presence who always had time for the people in his life.

“His art was human connectivity,” said Aaron Goode, who met him over a decade ago when the two enrolled in the city’s first Democracy School class. “That was his medium. He was a painter of civic canvases. Westville, that was one of his canvases, but so was New Haven and so was New York.”

Memorial for Activist Heiwa Salovitz

We hope you can come to this memorial for our dear friend Heiwa Salovitz, who died so suddenly at the beginning of this year, at his home in Austin, Texas.

If you know of others who were his friends for the many years he lived in CT,  please feel free to pass this along to them as well.

June 11, 1 p.m., Community Room at John Prete Savin Rock Housing, 1187 Campbell Ave., West Haven.

Bring your memories and stories to share!

Info: email Joan at joan.cavanagh@gmail.com or Elaine at DREAMprod4U@webtv.net.

CT People’s World May Day 2022: Art Perlo Presente

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

CT People’s World May Day 2022: Art Perlo Presente on Sunday, May 1, 6:30 p.m., at the New Haven Peoples Center and also virtually on FB Live at 7 p.m.

Come together in solidarity for the launch of the Art Perlo Presente website carrying his legacy forward for a just society. 6:30 p.m. for pizza will be followed at 7 p.m. with the program launching of the Art Perlo Presente website, including clips from three videos (30th-anniversary Local 34, Black History Month Youth March honoring Art Perlo, and May Day Around the World 2021). Then enjoy at 8 p.m. “United to Fight Back,” a virtual celebration with the national People’s World.

Art Perlo Presente includes selections from Art’s writings, videos, recipes, tributes, photos, and organizing as well as “Building the Movement Today,” with an opportunity to add a post. It promises to be a valuable and lively resource for education and action.

Sunday, May 1, at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street and also virtually on FB Live at https://www.facebook.com/events/504174641206708

Contributions can be made at: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/art-perlo-presente-carry-it-forward

Then watch “United to Fight Back,” a virtual national People’s World celebration: https://peoplesworld.org/article/peoples-world-may-day-celebration-fundraiser

For more information, email ct-pww@pobox.com

Heiwa Salovitz in His Own Words

Why Oral History Matters, an Interview

by Erica Suprenant and Shannon Elizondo, ADAPT of Texas

“What brings me to oral history? Well as a person with a disability — I’ve had my disability all my life — people with disabilities tend to be seen as the invisible people. We tend not to document their stories; we tend not to listen to them; we tend not to think their lives are interesting. So that’s what brings me to oral history, ’cause I want people to learn about my story. I want to learn about theirs, and so we can see the commonality in the struggle, because we all have struggled. We all have things we can learn from each other, things we can contribute to society, and hopefully change society for the better. And it’s just interesting to hear different people’s perspectives on their life and their world experiences.” ~ Heiwa Salovitz, October 11, 2011, a member of ADAPT of Texas, https://eschucha6.rssing.com/chan-44504162/article4.html?zx=814

Speaking Out Against Voting Restrictions 

Heiwa’s testimony at the Texas Legislature against SB 1 (which unfortunately passed, imposing severe and racist voting restrictions) www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmNPmAlK5u8

Rembrances of Heiwa Salovitz

From email sent by Elaine Kolb, Jan. 11, 2022

First met Heiwa Salovitz when he was in his late teens and I was almost 40. Back then, my partner, Patti Deak, was President of the Greater New Haven Disability Rights Activists (GNHDRA). Heiwa occasionally attended some of our events, sometimes held at SCSU. Patti & I agreed that Heiwa had great leadership potential.

Sometime after Patti died in 1999, Heiwa and I bonded more directly, both involved with social justice struggles. Over these years, our connection & trust deepened profoundly. Just visited him for a week in September. His personal care assistant (PCA) found him dead, sitting in his power wheelchair on January 3, 2022.

Heiwa, Japanese word meaning “peace”or “harmony.” The only “Heiwa” I’ve ever known was surely one of a kind. Yes, that’s partly why we became so close. Takes one to know one…

~ From email sent by Joan Cavanagh on Jan. 4, 2022

Heiwa Salovitz, Presente!

Dear Friends and Fellow Travelers,

This isn’t the sort of New Year’s email I’d choose to write. In sorrow and shock I have to report the passing of a dear friend, Heiwa Salovitz, over the weekend in Austin, Texas. Heiwa was a stalwart and principled fighter for disability justice, peace (the meaning of his name), and human rights whom many of you knew. A member of the Muslim community, he was part of the work of the New Haven Sunday Vigil for Peace and Justice, the Greater New Haven Coalition for People, the New Haven initiatives of Amman Imman (Water is Life) and many other local groups and organizations before moving to Austin to work with Texas ADAPT.

We will have a local memorial gathering at some time in the future.

Heiwa’s life was unique, courageous and important. May his memory be for a blessing.

~ Joan Cavanagh

My Friend Heiwa Salovitz

By Paula Panzarella

Needing a wheelchair didn’t keep Heiwa from being involved with community actions or peace rallies. He was on the May Day Celebration Committee, helping plan the yearly International Workers Day festival on the New Haven Green. He joined Fight the Hike and traveled to Hartford to give public testimony at the State Legislature about the hardships CT’s electric rates caused the disabled community and lower-income residents. Every Sunday he would come to the peace and justice vigils in the rain, snow or freezing weather. He was intent on making a difference in this world.

In all the groups we were in together, he helped broaden our perspective on how we needed to improve our outreach and accessibility to include more people in the various struggles for justice.

Heiwa was courageous, smart, patient, modest, and had a great sense of humor. In 2010, he left New Haven to join the Austin chapter of ADAPT. He was intent on working with others in the disability rights community who, like him, were not afraid of pushing the envelope, risking arrest and fighting for recognition of their human rights and dignity. Unfortunately, New Haven wasn’t radical enough for him.
His mother was Italian and French and raised Catholic, his father was Jewish, and Heiwa was a converted Muslim. His name means “Peace” in Japanese – in all ways he embodied his multi-cultural appreciation of the world.

I’m glad we met, grateful for his friendship, and heartbroken about his passing.

Lynda Faye Wilson March 24, 1946-Jan. 31, 2022

With great sadness, we are letting our readers know of the passing of Linda Faye Wilson. She was part of many New Haven organizations through the years, and a number of PAR activists worked with her on many issues.

Lynda was a member of People Against Injustice, Sisters with a New Attitude, Survivors of Homicide, the Ryan White AIDS Council, and Hill North Community Management Team, to name a few. She also took on a number of responsibilities for her church. She fiercely worked and advocated for her community, and maintained her optimism and humor through many hardships.

A favorite saying of hers was, “I’m blessed in all this mess.”

She was a warrior, fighting for justice on all fronts for all people. A true community leader and activist, generous and kind, she will be missed by all who knew her.

Joe Luciano Sept. 28, 1938-Feb. 1, 2022, at Monument Health Hospice House

Joe Luciano (Facebook)

Joe Luciano (Facebook)

A staunch advocate for disability rights has died. Joe Luciano led demonstrations against his local post office in Seymour that was not wheelchair accessible. He was the founder of Disability Rights Action Group, and the creator of the 2014-2018 Underground Travel Guide, listing accessible places to visit in New Haven County via Connecticut ADA paratransit providers.

In 2019, he moved to Rapid City, South Dakota. As he wrote in the Oct. 2020 PAR newsletter, “Last year I moved west from Downtown Seymour Ct after realizing it would never become a Livable Community in my lifetime.”

Unfortunately, South Dakota didn’t live up to his expectations, as you can read in his PAR article Don’t Move to South Dakota. https://par-newhaven.org/2020/09/27/dont-move-to-south-dakota/

A true humanitarian, Joe was concerned about all issues of injustice and focused his fight on the rights of the disabled.

The PAR Planning Committee is grateful for the struggles he led, and the articles he wrote so we could bring the issues to our readers’ attention.

You can read a New Haven Register article about him at:
https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/James-Walker-Bound-a-senior-with-disabilities-13772366.php

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