In Memory of Caroline Bridgman-Rees and Lula White

The PAR Planning Committee mourns the passing of Caroline Bridgman-Rees (Dec. 31, 1922-Aug. 28, 2019) and Lula White (died at the age of 80 on Sept. 10, 2019), two women with deep ties to the greater New Haven peace community and the world who dedicated their lives for peace, equality and justice for all humanity.

Caroline was an NGO representative of the United Nations and member of a multitude of peace organizations — international, national and local. She was involved with the Progressive Action Roundtable right from its beginning in 1993.

Caroline’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 11:30 a.m., at the Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike, Hamden.

Excerpt from Lula’s obituary notice in the New Haven Register, Sept. 16, 2019

Most people knew Lula White as a retired New Haven school teacher, board member of the Greater New Haven Labor History Association and member of the PAR mailing committee. For many of us in New Haven, we didn’t realize the scope of her bravery and profound sense of justice until she told us her history of being a freedom rider.

Family members have set Lula’s memorial service for Saturday, Dec. 14. Inquiries should be directed to Lulamwhitememorialservice@gmail.com.

We cherish the friendship, wisdom and inspiration Caroline and Lula shared with us. Our condolences to the families of these two remarkable, brave women who gave so much of themselves for a better world.

Remembering Lula White

by Joan Cavanagh, former Archivist/Director, Greater New Haven Labor History Association (2001-2017)

Lula White poses with the Thurgood Marshall Award she received in 2016 (file photo)

Lula White poses with the Thurgood Marshall Award she received in 2016 (file)

I was with Lula White at many gatherings in 35 or so years: peace actions to oppose the endless U.S. wars; Sunday night potluck discussions; Labor History Association meetings and events; union protests at Yale; even the occasional holiday party. With Mary Johnson, she often spoke of teaching, organizing and being jailed during the teachers’ strikes in the 1970s. Her story as a youthful freedom rider in the South unfolded more slowly.

When we decided to document the history of workers at New Haven’s Winchester Repeating Arms Company, Lula and her sister, Dorothy White Johnson, both long time members of the Labor History Association Executive Board, contacted former Winchester employees, conducted interviews and borrowed artifacts for the exhibit, “Our Community at Winchester: An Elm City Story.”

After the plant closed in 2006, we transferred the files, artifacts and photographs of the workers’ union, IAM Local 609, to the office I shared with the late Nicholas Aiello, then LHA president. The plan was to inventory and preserve them. As Nick witnessed 65 boxes slowly taking over our space, he became, not unreasonably, upset. We had a heated exchange. Lula arrived just as I left to take a breath. When I returned, Lula was smiling—and so was Nick, who congratulated us for having secured custody of these important historical records. Whatever she said or did, she had, typically, transformed the situation.

At Fairfield University, where the exhibit was displayed in 2017, I introduced Lula after a short history of the project, and began asking questions. The audience, mostly students, soon took over. Lula spoke quietly and without drama about her life as the daughter of a Winchester worker, growing up in the Newhallville section of New Haven, then becoming a teacher of history and union activist. She also shared the terrifying, brave experience of being jailed in Mississippi as a young Black woman, one of hundreds of freedom riders trying to integrate the buses in 1961. In an evaluation of the session, a student wrote that she was “cool.” She had shared her hope for a future based on engaged citizenship at a moment when it was desperately needed, just following the 2017 presidential inauguration.

During my only visit to the Intensive Care Unit where Lula was confined in June, not expected to survive, I whispered to her to “Keep fighting.” It wasn’t necessary. Fight she did. Over the summer, she slowly got better. She almost made it.

Despite Lula White’s inner calm, peace and strength, it cannot have been easy being fully “woke.” May she find the joy and rest she has earned.

Excerpt from the obituary notice of the New Haven Register, Sept. 16, 2019

Ms. White was frequently jailed as a freedom rider trying to desegregate public transportation. In addition, she was arrested for striking to raise salaries for teachers, and jeered for marching to protest injustice. She was recognized by the Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2016, was awarded the Thurgood Marshall Award for her activism and commu-nity service, and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Albertus Magnus College in 2010. Lula fought the good fight.

Towards a New Paradigm of Creative Revolution — Part One

by Owen Charles, environmental, peace and community activist

We are in a time of great innovation, some say, mostly speaking of computer technology, “AI,” microparticle physics, genetic science, and other man-made detritus.

We are in a time of great crisis, meanwhile, as we soak in a toxic environment and begin to experience looming climate destruction borne of man-made garbage–hydrocarbons, plastics, pesticides, and other technologies.

It is time to recognize that we are in a downward spiral. As a species, we are clearly incapable. That is why it is up to SOME of us to recognize we are in a downward spiral… and do something about it.

No, not come up with some technological solution or grand design that will “save the world” but independent, creative, revolutionary ways of disconnecting from and unplugging from the destructive dystopia around us, so that we may build a new future. Tapping into our own creative revolutions, inviting and engaging, and welcoming those around us.

Is this a revolutionary idea? – YES and NO. YES, in that it is the answer towards upending the Existing Order (Capitalism, carnism, consumerism, etc.) that will likely implode as destructive forces it has unleashed grows in Tsunami fashion and drowns (most of) us all.

NO, in that it is already late to be getting to the party. Revolutionary work has started all around. Not cults of 150-year-old revolutionists or other political goings-on…. But, in the almost anonymous goings-on of growing autonomous movements — Bioregionalism groups, independent local movements of people living off the grid, tiny houses, living in vans & other vehicles, autonomous agricultural innovations, “gig economy” pursuits, bartering and new economies, and in the rise of cooperatives, collectives, and back-to-earth communalism–it is no longer enough to say “No”! In fact, it is counter-productive to spend much time doing this–opposing the facets and faults that in aggregate comprise the Existing Order.

While Bob Marley was right that “Total destruction is the only solution (no one can stop them now),” there will not be a turning point among humans to turn around the destruction of the planet (and each other) through our out-of-control hydrocarbonism, consumerism, and Capitalism… not until after climate destruction has so disrupted our lives that the great majority live in constant struggle to survive amidst the new environment of the planet. We ARE beyond… beyond the point of no return. Thus, we don’t say NO… We don’t say INCREMENTALISM. Thus, we say YES!

The clear answer for a monumental transition lies before us… lies in our embracing this, and saying “YES”.

Yes, to new paradigm.

Yes, to new ideas, ways of living, ways of helping each other, ways of creating anew.

Yes, to positive action.

Yes, to communes- bounding together to create new economies, new healthcare and educational possibilities, new ways of moving forward from where we are now.

And in this “new” paradigm there certainly may be echoes of the past… indigenous and ancient ways of basic, communitarian existence in a more balanced harmony with each other and with nature…

You can look at it as saying NO to the toxic culture and capitalism, and war, and… BUT it is important not to look at it this way and to instead approach it as SAYING YES.

Yes, first off to each other.

We need to unleash ourselves from the paradigm of individualism and that it is a dog-eat-dog world… and instead embrace that we are all IN THIS TOGETHER. This is one of the first rules used to sublimate us, is the rule of “divide and conquer”.

Thus fighting each other is abandoned as a mode of revolution, and in fact is Counter-revolutionary. Let’s continue to look around and find and support those who represent a new paradigm hidden in plain sight all around us!

We say YES to each other in the mode of improvisational group creation… “YES, And” … Your idea AND mine… “BOTH AND” (not Either / Or)… this way we do not tear ourselves apart and tear each other down, but we BUILD TOGETHER new ways, new organizations, new creative revolutions.

YES to cooperatives, YES to collectives, YES to unplugging and working, YES to more DOING and less TALKING, YES to CREATING, YES TO BIOREGIONALISM, YES to MUNICIPALISM, YES to YES to YES to YES to YES.

YES to down-sizing, YES to living more ruggedly with less, YES to helping others to do so (not shaming them), YES to creating ways to communicate independently YES to BEING the CHANGE we want to see. YES to worrying less about fear, division, disagreement, and looming destruction, and YES to focusing more on creative revolution to create the new ways of living that sustain us, save us, inspire us, give us some hope, some unity, and rebuild our interior and human goodness from the first step of the first individual, in a chain that has the potential to be unending, and free us from the chains of our dystopia.

Please reach out to us by joining our Facebook group @shorelinegreenparty or contacting me! Owen Charles at owencharles2003@yahoo.com

Coalition for People Update

We continue to work on healthcare for all, affordable housing, the environment, concerns of unfair energy prices, care for the homeless and residents of sober houses. Our next board meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2-4 p.m. on the lower level of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. All are welcome to attend.

Annual membership dues for Coalition for People is $5. We would like more people to become members, as well as to consider joining our board. For more information, please call (203) 468-2541 or e-mail coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

In the last issue of PAR we notified readers of the passing of our board member Geraldine Poole. At the time of printing we were not able to include a photo. For all who remember Geraldine, we thought you would like to see her once more.

Interfaith Peace Waged in New Haven

Volunteers from multiple interfaith organizations painted a new billboard Thursday that will tower over I-95 right northbound before Exit 45 .

The 50-foot billboard was one of numerous projects completed by over 100 volunteers from across the world who gathered for New Haven Interfaith Service Day.

The effort was led by Rev. Nicholas Porter from Jerusalem Peacebuilders and Bruce Barrett from IWagePeace.org with local clergy members Rabbi Brian Immerman (Congregation Mishkan Israel), Imam Omer Bajwa (Yale Chaplin), Father Stephen Holton (Christ Episcopal Church), and Rev. Bonita Grubbs (Christian Community Action).

Source: Interfaith Peace Waged | New Haven Independent

Coalition for People Updates and Plans for a Medicare for All Workshop

Many PAR readers who were at Coalition for People events through the years have come to know Geraldine Poole. She always greeted everyone and made them feel at home within the group. Geraldine was on the Board of Directors of Coalition for People for many years and passed away on June 19. We miss her smile, encouragement, and enthusiasm for working with as many people as possible for a world of justice and peace. CFP made two donations in Geraldine’s memory: one to the building fund of the new Stetson Library on Dixwell Avenue and the other to the African-American Historical and Cultural Society of the Ethnic Heritage Center. She was a gentle, loving, determined woman who was a true inspiration to all who knew her and worked with her.

At our August board meeting, we discussed having workshops on universal, single-payer, comprehensive healthcare followed by a conference. We recently learned of the group Medicare for All CT and some CFP members attended its conference the previous week. We are looking forward to continuing our networking with them to organize for an effective healthcare policy for everybody: universal, single-payer, comprehensive healthcare. Our next board meeting is on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 3-5 p.m. on the lower level of the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Ave. All are welcome to attend.

Annual membership dues for Coalition for People are $5. We not only would like more people to become members but would like members to consider joining our board. For more information, please call (203) 468-2541 or e-mail coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com.

Report on Coalition for People Annual Meeting

On April 17, the Coalition for People held its first annual meeting since 2014. Among the 24 attendees, there were many past members and some newcomers to the group.

The gathering started off with music by Flint Ladder. A slideshow featuring CFP founder Mary Johnson played during the performance.

Elected board members are Dorothy Johnson, Elizabeth Neuse, Holly Hackett and JoAnn Moran. If anyone wants to still join the board, they can be considered during the monthly business meetings. Please call (203) 468-2541 if you are interested in joining the board.

The keynote speaker was Rev. Bonita Grubbs, Director of Christian Community Action. She spoke about the long history of Coalition for People, the legacy of Mary Johnson, what it means to be organizing and inspiring people, and always pushing for what is right, even though it may not always be immediately evident. She gave the example that that week scientists were able to photograph a black hole, proving Albert Einstein’s theory about the existence of black holes, 64 years after Einstein’s death. Many ridiculed Einstein when he first presented that theory, just as many people call activists crazy for trying to change things. But just because we as activists don’t get immediate results doesn’t mean we’re crazy or wrong. Rev. Grubbs talked about the individual lights of each person, their intelligence, skills, how people have their own understanding, that everyone can bring their lights together, discuss reality and solutions from her or his own perspective, and shine the light to push things forward.

Discussion of various topics followed – affordable housing, Yale New Haven Hospital’s plan to move the primary care centers to Long Wharf, healthcare, homelessness, justice. It was a good gathering to share the concerns of Coalition members and supporters, as well as those new to CFP.

The monthly board meetings are open to the membership. For June, July and August, our meetings are on the third Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. at the Fair Haven Library, 182 Grand Avenue (June 19, July 17, and August 21). For more information, email coalitionforpeople@hotmail.com. Thank you!

Happy May Day! Continue the Struggle for Justice!

by the PAR Planning Committee

Since the nationwide strike for the 8-hour workday in 1886, the first of May has become a historic day for the struggles of working people, and for over a hundred years May 1 has been celebrated as International Workers’ Day. Locally, in 1970, the May Day protests on the New Haven Green demanded freedom for Bobby Seale, justice for the Black Panthers, and the end of the Vietnam War. Starting in 1987 and continuing for thirty years on the Green, the annual May Day celebration each year brought together dozens of organizations to promote their work for labor rights, peace, human rights, and economic rights to the broader New Haven community. And since 2006, city-wide marches for immigrants’ rights are held on May 1. Peace, racism, police brutality, union struggles, fair wages, anti-war, immigration, a safe environment, criminal justice issues, labor history, welfare rights organizing, the right to healthcare — these are some of the struggles and issues in the celebration of international solidarity.

April was a month full of upsurge. From April 11-21, Stop & Shop workers from Connecticut, Rhode Island and

Massachusetts (31,000 workers) were on strike. The union considers the new contract a victory, preserving healthcare and retirement benefits and providing wage increases. The next strike in Connecticut will be unionized workers in nursing homes. They are scheduled to strike on May 1.

For days there have been massive protests and marches in New Haven and Hamden condemning the thoroughly unjustified Hamden and Yale police shooting in New Haven of two African-Americans in their early twenties on April 16. Thankfully, Stephanie Washington is recovering from her bullet wounds, and Paul Witherspoon was not hit. Video from the police body cameras has not yet been released. As of this writing, people will gather at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 6 at the Hamden Town Hall for the Legislative Council Meeting. We urge our readers to join in the many rallies for justice around these and other issues and be inspired by the many people at the forefront of these struggles for their lives and their livelihoods.

May Day 2019 — 100 Years of Struggle for Workers’ Rights

by Joelle Fishman, CT People’s World

The annual Connecticut People’s World rally for International Workers’ Day will highlight union organizing today and in history. Themed “May Day 2019: 100 Years of Struggle for Workers’ Rights,” the rally will be held on Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m. at the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe St. The event, held during the 100th anniversary year of the Communist Party USA, will include a brief history of labor organizing by the Communist Party since its founding in 1919 and continuing today.

The experience of organizing food service workers who won a union last year at United Airlines will be shared by Jaime Myers-McPhail who lived in Colorado for several months working on the campaign, and his colleague Charlie Delgado who participated for a shorter time. Myers-McPhail is an organizer in New Haven with New Haven Rising and Unite Here.

“May Day Around the World” slide show will show workers’ protests and actions from every continent including many demands for equality for immigrant workers. The afternoon will be capped off with labor songs led by some of those who participated in the newly formed labor chorus at the Women’s March in Hartford this year.

On May 1, 1886, thousands of workers marched in Chicago to demand relief from brutal 12- and 14-hour workdays. A few days later, a suspicious bomb killed several Chicago police and protesters in Haymarket Square. Four of the march leaders were framed and executed. In their memory, May Day was proclaimed a day of international workers’ struggle and solidarity. In the United States, May Day took on new life when immigrant workers from Latin America held mega-marches for their rights in 2006. May Day 2019 is part of the resistance against the anti-people Trump/ Republican white supremacy agenda, and the rising movements to put peace, planet and people before profits

Donation is $5 or what you can afford. A fund appeal for the People’s World will be made. For information e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com or call (203) 624-4254.

Yale Shot Stephanie Washington

by Joshua Caytetano, Yale Daily News, April 18, 2019

[Article below is excerpted from yaledailynews.com/blog/2019/04/18/cayetano-yale-shot-stephanie-washington]
The shooting of Stephanie Washington, a young black New Haven resident, by an officer of the Hamden Police Department and Yale University Police should produce grave concern and protest within the Yale student community.

Click to read more on the GoFundMe page

GoFundMe (click to read more)

Facts are still emerging, narratives are still changing, but one incontestable truth persists: Hamden and Yale University police shot an innocent, unarmed black woman. The University has the opportunity to take the steps toward racial reconciliation in front of a local and national audience. Yale can move from silence and complicity to solidarity with our hurting neighbors. One way is to commit to pressure local law enforcement to ensure a transparent investigation and a just outcome.

Other steps toward solidarity can include: 1) The issue of a public apology, 2) A commitment to terminate the employment of any responsible party, 3) A review and revision of YPD’s relationship to the broader New Haven community, and 4) A renewed, material commitment to these communities of need. But until the University proves itself to be a reliable partner for justice, this movement must begin with the students.

As Yale students, we must ask ourselves, “Is my safety ensured at the expense of someone else’s?” In light of this shooting, the answer should be an unequivocal yes.

Within the University’s protective bubble, we can easily ignore the uncomfortable truths that implicate our institution in injustice. We must correct our vision to include the many overlooked and under-considered people who challenge our presumption of moral superiority.

How can we be national advocates for justice if we allow the injustices in our backyard to pass unnoticed? How can we study centuries of racial oppression in our classrooms, yet not speak up when we witness it first-hand? Stephanie Washington might not have died from the bullet, but this fact in no way lightens the burden of responsibility. We must continue to #SayHerName, along with other black and brown people who have been brutalized by the police.

[editor’s note: there is a gofundme page set up for helping Stephanie get back on her feet. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/help-for-stephanie-washington

Joshua Cayetano is a first year at the Yale Divinity School. Contact him at joshua.cayetano@yale.edu.

Sing Seeger Songs to Benefit IRIS May 17

by Kim Stoner, NH Society of Friends

A singalong concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of folk singer and activist Pete Seeger will be held at Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike in Hamden on Friday, May 17th. We will sing to celebrate Seeger’s music and his life-long efforts on behalf of peace, justice, and the earth. The concert is a benefit for Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS).

Seeger passionately believed that singing together not only built community but could help heal our planet. Towards the end of his life, he said that if there’s still a world a hundred years from now it would be in large part because of people singing with each other.

Audiences in this singalong tribute concert will sing together using our new songbook containing fifty classic songs Pete Seeger led throughout his life, specially designed for Seeger centennial event. This event will feature Emma’s Revolution, Charlie King, Annie Patterson and Peter Blood-all of whom worked closely with Pete Seeger during his life.

Emma’s Revolution is the award-winning activist duo of Pat Humphries & Sandy O, whose songs have been praised by Pete Seeger and covered by Holly Near. They convey the energy and strength of their convictions, in an uprising of truth and hope for these tumultuous times.

Charlie King is a musical storyteller and political satirist. Pete Seeger hailed him as “one of the finest singers and songwriters of our time.” They worked together to help build the People’s Music Network.

Annie Patterson & Peter Blood are the co-creators of the best-selling songbook Rise Up Singing. They have led sing-along concerts across North America and abroad building “hope & change through song.” www.groupsinging.org.

Concert details: Pete’s 100th Singalong Concert Friday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Society of New Haven, 700 Hartford Turnpike in Hamden. Info: Paul Hammer (475) 201-3810, pauldhammer@yahoo.com.

Tickets & information: www.riseupandsing.org/events. Adults: $20, students and low income $10. For more information: www.riseupandsing.org/seeger-100th.

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