NY Better World Awards honor activists, salute protests

A cold December day did little to chill the spirits of those attending the annual New York Friends of the Peoples World Better World Awards: a scheduling misunderstanding had left attendees standing in a freezing wind until the auditorium was opened.

Once inside, hearty salutes to striking fast food workers and the tens of thousands protesting the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner paid by Jarvis Tyner district chair of the New York Communist Party, and others quickly warmed the crowd as the program honoring Cormanita Mahr, Vice President of United Healthcare Workers East (SEIU 1199), Zephyr Teachout a candidate for governor of NY,  Reverend Danilo Lachapel, director of Give Them to Eat Ministry and New York CP labor leader Bill Davis, got underway.

A resolution  condemning the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown was presented and passed unanimously. It urged all  “intensify our personal efforts and those of organizations in which we participate, joining with the millions of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color, as well as white working people who are ready to fight to end the scourge of racism, and for full equality in our land.”

The event was MC’d by Estevan Nembhard-Bassett, the New York CPUSA organizer.

Mahr, a longtime union peace and justice advocate who directed 1199’s  campaign to secure paid leave when receiving her award, saluted the young people in the streets leading the way demanding justice for Eric Garner.

Teachout, argued that campaign finance reform can be achieved through antitrust reform. Antitrust legislation can be seen as a form of indirect campaign finance reform by limiting the power of corporations to influence elections, she said.

Commenting on taxes, Teachout said, “I would roll back the tax cuts Governor Cuomo handed the wealthy few. We should extend the millionaire’s tax beyond 2017, to ensure we can fund our schools and public programs for the long-term. We should bring back a form of the bank tax, and review the corporate tax system, to ensure companies pay their fair share.”

Bill Davis, received Peoplesworld.org’s  of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He expressed his appreciation this way, “All that I have accomplished and hope to in the future I owe to my party. Not that everything that I have done was within my party. But when I took on responsibilities in other organizations, whether it was my union, the May Day Committee, the Working Families Party, the Left Labor Project, Veterans for Peace, or numerous Political Campaign Committees and campaigns – I did so with the party’s help and encouragement.”

The Reverend Danilo Lachapel, when receiving his award paid tribute to peoplesworld.org and those on the program working for the poor, including the Communist Party.  “I see no contradiction between my Christian beliefs and those of communists; communists fought along side those in Central and South America to free themselves from brutal dictatorships backed by Western powers”.

Ricky Eisenberg, longtime peoples troubadour led participants in songs of struggle while participates enjoyed a variety of delicious entrees prepared by the food committee.

In closing, one of the organizers of the event, Tina Nannarone thanked all who braved the cold and wind to help make the Better World Awards a huge success.

New connections were made and earlier ones solidified. Forward – A Better World is Possible!

Click here for photos of event.



Gabe Falsetta
Gabe Falsetta

Long-time social justice activist Gabe Falsetta writes from New York City.