ST. LOUIS — The Missouri/Kansas Friends of the People’s Weekly World held their 14th annual Hershel Walker Peace and Justice Awards Breakfast here April 29, educating listeners about Venezuela and raising $3,000 for the PWW fund drive in the process.

Shelby Richardson, a leader of the Illinois district of the Communist Party, was the keynote speaker at the event, which drew over 100 union members, community activists and students. Richardson, who recently attended the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuela, spoke about his experiences there.

President Hugo Chavez’s “21st century socialism” has brought concrete changes to the Venezuelan people, Richardson said. “The changes in Venezuela have shown us that a new world is possible,” he continued. He mentioned new health care and education programs, land redistribution and workers’ cooperatives as examples of the changes taking place.

Richardson also warned of the Bush administration’s attempts to weaken and isolate Chavez, saying that it is the responsibility of the American people to ensure that the U.S. does not interfere in Venezuela’s affairs.

The awards breakfast, started in 1991, honors Hershel Walker, a trade unionist and civil rights leader who died in 1990. Walker joined the Young Communist League in 1930 and spent the rest of his life in the Communist Party fighting for social justice.

This year’s awardees included Joan Suarez, a leader in the St. Louis area Jobs with Justice and chair of their Workers’ Rights Board and Immigrants Rights Action Task Force; PROMO, a Missouri-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization; and Quincy Boyd, president of AFSCME Local 2730.

Ward 4 Committeeperson James Clayborne spoke to the attendees about efforts to honor Walker in his ward, where Walker lived until his death. Clayborne said he was working with ward residents to list Hershel Walker and other well-known African American leaders from the city’s north side on a memorial plaque and to rename a street after him.

State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, 22nd Ward Committeepersons Jay Ozier and Fay Davis, Ward 3 Alderwoman Shirley Davis, newly elected school board member Peter Downs and Ward 19 Committeeperson Jesse Todd also attended.


Tony Pecinovsky
Tony Pecinovsky

Tony Pecinovsky is the author of "Let Them Tremble: Biographical Interventions Marking 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA" and author/editor of "Faith In The Masses: Essays Celebrating 100 Years of the Communist Party, USA." His forthcoming book is titled "The Cancer of Colonialism: W. Alphaeus Hunton, Black Liberation, and the Daily Worker, 1944-1946." Pecinovsky has appeared on C-SPAN’s "Book TV" and speaks regularly on college and university campuses across the country.