Banquet honors Phila. activists

PHILADELPHIA – A crowd of well-wishers gathered at the Stadium Holiday Inn here for the annual People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo Banquet Nov.5. They were there to honor two outstanding leaders and activists – Pedro Rodriguez and Frances Gabow.

Rodriguez is the executive director of the Action Alliance of Senior Citizens of Greater Philadelphia. He is also the president of the Dominican Civil Rights Association of Philadelphia and chairs the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging Latino Advisory Task Force. Rodriguez is also associate editor of the bilingual weekly, Community Focus/ Enfoque Comunal. Upon accepting his award, Rodriguez talked about the work of the Action Alliance in the struggle for a prescription drug benefit as part of Medicare, and affordable medicines. “We must be more creative in organizing and consider new tactics and alliances,” he said.

Gabow is a walking history of the movements of the U.S. Left over the past 60 years. Her activism began in her youth as a Young Communist League member. She joined the Communist Party in 1939 and was active in many civil rights struggles. Presently she is involved with the Philadelphia Area Coalition to Defend Public Healthcare. Gabow’s energy, organizing abilities and dedication are admired by all. “Keep your eye on the ball. We have to move millions,” she said.

Scott Marshall, CPUSA vice chair and chair of the CPUSA Labor Commission, was the featured speaker at the banquet.

“Terrorism has to be eradicated and can’t be justified,” said Marshall. “But we must look at who trained bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh and Noriega.”

“We must be optimistic and build the peace movement against this fake war” said Marshall. “Don’t let Bush continue to force his agenda on our country: Star Wars, corporate giveaways, union busting and loss of our civil liberties.” Marshall said that building international cooperation to dig out the roots of terrorism must be part of the answer.

Ewuare Osayande, noted Philadelphia poet and chair of the Philadelphia Black Radical Congress, read from two of his recent books, Caught At the Crossroads Without A Map and 911. Three poems especially expressed the sentiment of the audience – “George Bush II,” “One Woman One Vote,” dedicated to Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and “Anthrax Attack.”