NEW HAVEN, Conn. — About 100 labor and progressive activists packed the New Haven People’s Center Dec. 5 to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the Communist Party USA at a reception hosted by the Connecticut Bureau of the People’s Weekly World.

Several state leaders in the movement for social change were honored, including Sharon Palmer, president of the American Federation of Teachers in Connecticut, Americo Santiago, program and policy director of DemocracyWorks, and the Rev. Scott Marks, New Haven director of the Connecticut Center for a New Economy.

Palmer, who coordinated labor’s activity in the 2nd Congressional district, spoke of being depressed at first after election results came in, then becoming angry and finally determined to continue the fight against the anti-labor, anti-people policies of the right-wing. Santiago, who initiated a successful campaign to restore voting rights to ex-felons, said grassroots activism has never been more vital than it is today. Rev. Marks delivered a powerful call to continue organizing door-to-door and developing new leaders to bring about change.

Sam Webb, national chairman of the Communist Party USA, emphasized the need for unity to continue to fight against the Bush administration’s greedy schemes to strip working people of their hard-won Social Security benefits.

Recognizing the ongoing contributions of several persons who were present with over 50 years of membership in the CPUSA, Joelle Fishman, chair of the Connecticut Communist Party, reminded the gathering of the proud history and beginnings of the organization. She said the party was formed by working men and women who “refused to accept segregation and racism, refused to accept imperialist wars of domination, refused to accept exploitation of labor, hunger and homelessness. They had a vision of a society based on equality, dignity, justice and peace.”

The spirited celebration was a reminder that “We, the People,” will not sit still and let the ultra-right roll over us and try to take our dignity and respect away. It included calls for educating, organizing, and mobilizing others to save Social Security, to win health care for all, and to end the war in Iraq.

The event included a program and greetings book that raised nearly $3,000 for the People’s Weekly World, putting Connecticut over the top for its goal in this year’s fund drive.

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