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Tidbits - Dec. 16, 2021 - Reader Comments: Abortion Rights; Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex; Disastrous Drug War; Robots; Art and Culture Under Billionaire Assault; Reds-The Movie, lots of comments; Race and 1776; Books; more

Reader Comments: Abortion Rights; Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex; Disastrous Drug War; Robots; Art and Culture Under Billionaire Assault; Reds-The Movie, lots of comments; Race and 1776; Books;

Tidbits - Reader Comments, Resources, Announcements, AND cartoons - Dec. 16, 2021, Portside

Re: Justice Sotomayor Expertly Exposed the Bullshit of Mississippi’s Attack on Abortion Rights (Steve Nathan; Charles Ford)
Aiding and abetting  --   cartoon by Kevin Siers
Re: Sanders Calls on Biden to Slash 'Outrageous' Medicare Premium Hike (Robert William Edwards)
Re: American Views on Abortion (Lee Zaslofsky)
Re: Dispatches From the Culture Wars - Dec. 7, 2021 (Maria Schafer)
What Government Can Do  --  cartoon by Dr. James MacLeod
Re: How Congress Loots the Treasury for the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex (Sonia Cobbins)
Re: Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law (Pat Kennedy)
Re: In Historic Speech, Deb Haaland Honors Native Activists Who Took Over Alcatraz (Susan Dupont)
Re: How Oregon is Turning the Page on America's Disastrous Drug War (Charles; Jack Radey)
Smash-And-Grab  --  cartoon by Rob Rogers
Re: What I Learned from Jerry Meyer (Buzz Davis; Joseph Wilson; Jay Mazur)
Re: Claiming Our Right to Study: Building Working-Class Intellectualism in the Struggles for Health Care and Education (Mariam Alunkal; Lee Zaslofsky)
Re: World's First Living Robots Can Now Reproduce, Scientists Say (Jim Maynard; Norm Littlejohn; Susan Roland; Karyne Dunbar; Anthony Rivera)
Re: Our New Art ‘Appreciation,’ Billionaire-Style (Susan Collier Lamont; Mary Bang)
Re: Novelist Almudena Grandes Told the Truth About the Spanish Dictatorship (Jose Luis Medina)
Re: Forty Years Later, Reds Is Still One of the Best Films Ever Made About Revolutionary Politics (Van Caldwell; John Dietzel; Chris Townsend; Nora Hussey; Al Cholger; Paul Buhle; David Thomas Sr.; Jeremy Radabaugh; Ira Shor; Chip Berlet; James Smethurst; Brian Mitchell; Michael Steven Smith; Dan Brent)
Re: Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence (William Clay; John G Mason; Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz)

Resources:

People's History for Young Adults (Zinn Education Project)

Early Bird Titles Just in time for the Holidays (Hard Ball Press)

Announcements:

Online Conference on “Unwinding Privatization – (Re)municipalism and the Public Interest” - December 10 (Great Cities Institute)
DC Labor Chorus Winter Concert -- Sunday, December 12 (live-streamed)

 

Re: Justice Sotomayor Expertly Exposed the Bullshit of Mississippi’s Attack on Abortion Rights

She is a hero! A true American patriot,

Steve Nathan
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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(One summary e-mail a day, you can change anytime, and Portside is always free.)

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Unlike the clueless Breyer!

Charles Ford
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Aiding and abetting  --   cartoon by Kevin Siers

Kevin Siers
December 7, 2021
Charlotte Observer / News & Observer

Re: Sanders Calls on Biden to Slash 'Outrageous' Medicare Premium Hike

My increase for cost of living next year was completely done away with the premium hike.

Robert William Edwards
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: American Views on Abortion

Yes, but what are all these people doing to defend Roe v Wade?

It's nice to know that polls show that Americans agree with just about everything in the progressive agenda. Very reassuring!

But if their "support" is limited to answering the occasional poll question, what is it really worth? The Republicans know the answer: very little if anything at all. That's why they ignore these poll results and do the opposite of what the polls say Americans "support".

The idea that "the [only] time to make your voice heard is on Election Day" is a cop out -- "you mean I don't have to do anything until November?"

A healthy democracy requires continuous participation, continuous organizing, continuous activism. Without that, it is dead, or a Big Show paid for by the billionaires every two or four years to make people think they have some say in what happens.

Lee Zaslofsky
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Dispatches From the Culture Wars - December 7, 2021

I’m Catholic, but there are too damned many Catholics on this court. I want to live in a secular society, and choose my religious preference, not a theocracy that imposes its notions on the rest of us! Reform the Court! NOW!

Maria Schafer
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

What Government Can Do  --  cartoon by Dr. James MacLeod

Dr. James MacLeod
December 2, 2021
MacToons

Re: How Congress Loots the Treasury for the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

There is no country in the world that threatens to invade us. Yet we are rattling our sabers about some conflict between Russia and Ukraine, for example. What in the world would be our role there? We always create an enemy to ramp up support for military spending. Disarmament is a worthy goal, but it would be economically traumatic. Military manufacturing and the salaries it generates are an important part of the economy in every state and locality. We really need a creative program to transition from military to environmental protection programs with good paying jobs.

Sonia Cobbins
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Fearing a Repeat of Jan. 6, Congress Eyes Changes to Electoral Count Law

How about ditching the totally anti democratic Electoral College??

Pat Kennedy
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: In Historic Speech, Deb Haaland Honors Native Activists Who Took Over Alcatraz

A heart-warming tale of righteous activity by and for native Americans.  Thank you to all who participated.

Susan Dupont

Re: How Oregon is Turning the Page on America's Disastrous Drug War

One thing that is absolutely certain, the "war on drugs" has been an absurdly expensive, ineffective, socially toxic (and often corrupt) failure at controlling anything.  It's the demand side of the equation that creates such lucrative profits for the drug cartels and gangs that profit from other people's addictions.

If the profit lure was neutralized, this would force a radical change in the entire illegal drug industry.

It's an experiment at least worth trying, as nothing else has worked at all, except having prisons filled with drug related crimes, and keeping the worst of the violent gangs and cartels in profitable business.If anything, it may be those violent gangs and cartels who will be the worst enemy of this effort, rather than the usual sort of resistance by law enforcement and conservatives.

It should be worth noting that local law enforcement (and the DEA) have a vested interest in keeping the perpetual war on drugs just like it is, as it's actually quite profitable for money and property seizures, and of course, guaranteed job security.  Many lifelong careers have been connected to the drug trade in perpetuity, and of course, the prisons have been doing a full time business fueled by the same.

I hope that something positive comes out of this experiment in Oregon.

Charles
Sebastopol, CA 

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Ah, before we get to euphoric about Oregon's decriminalization of small quantities of drugs, perhaps just a hit or two of reality? 1) The notion of not arresting and charging people with felonies for having a small amount of meth, heroin, or coke (etc) in their possession is a good idea.  It both saves people from being flushed out of society and into the prison system, which is bad for them and expensive, and has all sorts of other negative effects.

2) The idea of the initiative was if stopped and found to have a few hits of some illegal drug on them, they were to receive a citation, which would require them to appear in court, where they would receive a referral to drug treatment services.  Unfortunately, this is not working, for two reasons.  Some law enforcement jurisdictions don't bother handing out citations.  Their view is it doesn't do anything, and it requires a certain amount of staff time.  They have some solid grounds for this belief. Others have made it a focus, and hand out lots of citations. Unfortunately, what they have discovered is that a depressingly low number of those who have received citations ever show up in court.  They are simply ignored.  The citations each has a phone number on it, a 24/7 hotline for persons seeking drug treatment, it provides a referral service.  Its operators report getting 1-3 calls a day.

3) There is a fact that the very well intentioned authors of the initiative apparently didn't consider worth consideration.  Of those addicts who successfully cope with their addictions, become "clean and sober" and maintain that status, roughly half do so initially involuntarily.  The truism, "you have to want to get well", does not work all that well with a variety of "behavioral health" conditions including addiction.  The overwhelming number of addicts are not interested in quitting, they are interested in their next hit.  One way for them to get clean is to be locked up where they cannot get drugs, (yes, I know prisons are hardly drug free), and required to go to treatment sessions.  Many resist, and gain nothing from it.  But for many, it is their ONLY opportunity to be off drugs for a while, and in therapy for a while.  Studies in AA have found that of those who successfully get sober (defined as not drinking and continuing to breath), about half were required by a court to go to meetings, they did not walk in voluntarily.  And at some point in the dumb, repetitive, boring meetings, they heard something that clicked, and they got interested.

4) Despite all the burbling in the article about the amount of funds being funneled into drug treatment, its effects in Oregon are far from obvious. Consultants, behavioral health administrators, and the like are no doubt thriving.  Meanwhile, there have been several busts of up to 20 lbs of meth at a time locally.  And every day or two there is another person whacked out, mostly on meth, waving a gun or knife around, assaulting people, driving crazy.

This was a sample of really well intentioned and poorly thought out and implemented ideas we've seen passed by initiative.  (Yes, I voted for it.) Another that came out of the legislature, on guns.  Private sales, of course, are notoriously difficult to monitor or enforce.  But there is now a law on the books requiring for a private sale to be reported to the authorities.  A number of right wing sheriffs, elected on "keep-the-damn-gummint-offa-our-guns" platforms, publicly announced they would not enforce the law.  Our own sheriff explained it like this.  Lets say someone is arrested for a crime involving a gun.  If the gun was purchased privately, and this happened after the law passed, and there was no report submitted, the suspect could be charged with violating the new law.  Which is a misdemeanor.  Any crime involving the gun would be a felony.  In order to tack a misdemeanor charge onto the felony would require detective work, to be able to prove in court that the gun was purchased since the law was passed.  The sheriff pointed out he has two (2) detectives on his small staff, and he has to cover a very large county with them, from the coast to the mountains.  Should he invest some of his available detective time on such a case, which would mean some other investigation could not be done, could at best produce a misdemeanor charge, which would be unlikely to add much to the penalty for the felony. If he got more funding with the bill to provide staff to enforce it, it is a loser for the county.  Local gun control advocates got angry with him, but they didn't catch that the legislature, when it takes a position on guns, tends to lean hard towards the symbolic.  After an attempt to seize the capitol by an armed mob (with the aid of a Republican member of the legislature who let them in a back door), the legislature voted to ban carrying firearms.  In the capitol building or on its grounds.  Don't you feel safer now?

Jack Radey

Smash-And-Grab  --  cartoon by Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers
December 3, 2021
robrogers.com

Re: What I Learned from Jerry Meyer

Thanks much another good human being!  

Peace 

Buzz Davis, 
Vets for Peace in Tucson

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I worked with Jerry as an adjunct at Hostos back in the day..when Herb Aptheker taught there. Jerry was salt of the earth…a really good person!

Joseph Wilson
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Meyer's bio of Marcantonio was excellent and very helpful in understanding New York City politics from the mid thirties until his death in 1955. I regret that Gerald Meyer never completed his history of the American Labor Party, it would have filled in the blank spaces in our understanding of that dynamic period in left history

Jay Mazur
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Claiming Our Right to Study: Building Working-Class Intellectualism in the Struggles for Health Care and Education

(posting on Portside Labor)

More words, words, words. Healthcare is a right to all. Just implement 'Medicare for All' (no, it is NOT Socialism) and with the resultant appropriate pricing of healthcare (particularly for health care providers like doctors), there is a chance that a better understanding of human pain will follow. And with that, a truer understanding / education of human frailty would follow.

Mariam Alunkal
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Back in the day, the socialists and communists had a strong commitment to educating the workers so they could see through the propaganda of the bosses (and learn to read and write, learn labor history. and learn how to organize and advocate.

Lee Zaslofsky
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: World's First Living Robots Can Now Reproduce, Scientists Say

This will not end well…. I watch Sci-fi movies, I know what's coming!

Jim Maynard
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I, for one, am prepared to welcome our new robot overlords.

Norm Littlejohn
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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This is horrifying.

Susan Roland
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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What could possibly go wrong?

Karyne Dunbar
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Its just talk.
Money has to be declared for Science

Anthony Rivera
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Our New Art ‘Appreciation,’ Billionaire-Style

And it costs a fortune to go to a museum.

Susan Collier Lamont
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Taking art away from the "commoners" to demonstrate their elitism. Sad on so many levels.

Mary Bang
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Novelist Almudena Grandes Told the Truth About the Spanish Dictatorship

Spanish author Almudena Grandes, who died last week, aged 61, was famed for her novels portraying ordinary Spaniards’ experience of civil war and dictatorship. Against attempts to veil the past in silence, she insisted that unearthing historical memory was fundamental to building a democratic Spain.

Jose Luis Medina
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Forty Years Later, Reds Is Still One of the Best Films Ever Made About Revolutionary Politics

(posting on Portside Culture)

“Released in 1981, Reds is one of the best movies of its era. The most amazing thing about the film is perhaps the fact that Beatty was able to make it in the first place. Just consider: Reds depicts the Russian Revolution in the same heroic light as a Hollywood film might the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the invasion of Normandy. It presents Reed and Louise Bryant — played by Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton — as entirely correct and justified in giving up everything to support the Bolsheviks.”

Van Caldwell
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Haven't watched this.  Need to.

John Dietzel
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I have always wondered where the surplus footage is of what Beatty called the "Witnesses", all the oldtimers who knew Reed and Bryant. One of the curious things about this movie. Through odd happenstance I met several of them when I lived in Florida in 1979-80-81 and I remember seeing them in the move=ie and being quite impressed. Back then with no internet you really didn't know who these people were. Some were legends, as I know now. Back on the footage - in the right hands a documentary just on the old timers would be a good watch, to me at least. CT

Chris Townsend
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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It was impressive then. Haven't seen it since...time to check out again I THINK!

Nora Hussey
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I have said it before, but: read the book Ten Days That Shook The World, before you see the movie. It really helps to understand what is fleeting by on the screen.

Al Cholger
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Gerda Lerner's son ran the filming crew for the 2nd half. Almost no script but a whole lot of action. And way over budget. Still: magnificent.

Paul Buhle
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Agreed, just finished watching it last night.
Only $10 on YouTube. Now I can watch or review part any time I want.

David Thomas Sr.
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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One of the Best movies from the US, ever!
Warren Beatty hates it, and he was the director!

Jeremy Radabaugh
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Remarkable film...

Ira Shor
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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When several of us saw journalist George Seldes interviewed in the film, we were stunned. We thought he had died years ago. We started to drive up to Vermont to visit him.

Chip Berlet
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I saw Reds at a theater in NJ. During the intermission I talked with a guy who had been one of the children in the Paterson Silk Strike pageant that Reed wrote. That was memorable.

James Smethurst
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Thank you so much for this wonderful article. We all need to see this timeless movie again.

Brian Mitchell

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A most stirring was when they played the Internationale. Imagine that for a Hollywood film.

Michael Steven Smith
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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I agree it's a wonderful movie. I don't agree that it is so positive about the Russian revolution or the virtue of the main characters. I think the author is missing some of the nuance of the movie.

Dan Brent
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

Re: Thirteen Clocks: How Race United the Colonies and Made the Declaration of Independence

(posting on Portside Culture)

What about Author and Scholar Dr. Gerald Horne's "The 1776 Counter-Revolution" which raised this point of view, backed by original scholarship, a number of years ago.

Maybe the starting point of research for "13 Clocks" needed to be Dr. Horne's book...or maybe it was?

William Clay

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Political paranoia and racial panic mobilized colonial opinion against the King.  Sound familiar?

John G Mason
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

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Looks like an essential read. I hope it becomes a best seller.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Posted on Portside's Facebook page

People's History for Young Adults (Zinn Education Project)

Here are just a few of our favorite 2021 young adult non-fiction and historical fiction titles.

Share Your Story - Receive a Book

How the Word Is Passed

Share a story about using any of the lessons or discussion questions for Clint Smith's How the Word Is Passed and we'll send you a people's history book.

In appreciation for your teaching story, you can choose Eyewitness: A Living Documentary of the African American Contribution to American History, a compilation by William Katz of hundreds of first-person stories and primary documents, or Faces and Masks by Eduardo Galeano, the second volume in his brilliant, student-friendly Memory of Fire trilogy.

Teaching Climate Justice

Thanks to a donation by the author, we will send you a copy of Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes in appreciation for your teaching story about any of the lessons in the Teach Climate Justice campaign.

We also recommend The Mystery Woman in Room Three by Aya de León, a new young adult novel on immigration rights, climate justice, the Green New Deal, and youth activism. Available for free download at Orion Magazine.

Share Your Teaching Story

Zinn Education Project
PO BOX 73038, WASHINGTON, D.C. 20056 
202-588-7205 | zinnedproject.org

Early Bird Titles Just in time for the Holidays (Hard Ball Press)

The early bird gets the new book!

These titles will be released in 2022, but you can order them from Hard Ball Press just in time for the holidays! Powerful stories, wonderful gifts.
Click here for the order page...

STANDING UP - Tales or Struggle
As they stand up, slow down, form unions, leave an abusive relationship or just stir up good trouble, the characters in this
multi-generation novel entertain and enlighten, make us laugh and rage, and encourage us to love deeply, that we may continue the fight for justice.
"So much fiction is about escape and fantasy, but these powerful Tales of Struggle will enrich our real and daily lives."   Gloria Steinem 
“What a wonderful story of class, class struggle and regular people.  The story is about struggle and change, but also about joy and humor.  Great work!  Bill Fletcher, Jr., author of Solidarity Divided 
Price: $15.00

THE ACTIVIST SPIRIT - Toward a Radical Solidarity
Labor and immigrant rights activist Victor Narro believes there is a spiritual core within social justice activism from which we can deepen our solidarity with each other. The work for justice is filled with the values attributed to spirituality – love, compassion, empathy for those in need, and a lifetime commitment to bring justice into their lives.
His book calls us to integrate that inner spiritual core into our work to make the struggle for justice more compassionate, caring, and sustainable. To be an activist for justice is to love humanity and all of creation. 
Price: $15.00

POLAR BEAR PETE'S ICE IS MELTING!
Polar Bear Pete tells Ahna, a young Inuit girl, that he and his animal friends are scared because their habitats are being destroyed. Ahna tells her friends about meeting Pete, and soon children all over the country demand that their parents STOP BURNING ALL YOUR FIRES!
An enchanting bilingual picture book that empowers children to advocate for planet earth.
In English & Spanish.
Age 5-10 years
Price: $13.50

Hard Ball Press
415 Argyle Rd., 6A
Brooklyn, NY 11218
917 428-1352

Online Conference on “Unwinding Privatization – (Re)municipalism and the Public Interest” - December 10 (Great Cities Institute)

December 10 @ 8:55 am - 4:30 pm CST Free with Registration 

The University of Illinois at Chicago is organising an online conference on “Unwinding Privatization – (Re)municipalism and the Public Interest”, to be held via Zoom on 10th December 2021. The purpose of the conference is to examine responses to failures of privatisation in cities, especially in the United States and Europe, and what to make of those responses. Since the 1970s municipalities have sold public assets such as water, electricity, gas, waste systems, and transport, to private companies or else transferred the management or delivery of city services to private actors. The results have been at best mixed. Of late, municipalities have been cancelling contracts, letting them expire or repurchasing the resource systems, sometimes as mandated by public referendums. On other occasions, private firms proved either unwilling to bid for a contract or canceled contracts early. This state of affairs has been variously characterized as “re-municipalization,” “new municipalism,” “in-sourcing,” “de-privatization,” and “reverse privatization.”

The conference examines: Which actors, institutions, and forms of finance, enable cities to take ownership of an asset or service previously outsourced or privatized? How sustainable are these controversial activities and what are their wider consequences? What explanations best account for these policy directions? What outcomes are missed by posing a private-public divide? What are the levels of power in the political system that facilitate the local “capacity to act”? What do (re)municipalizations portend for the future?

The conference comprises four panels: 1) Origins of Municipalism: Historical and Conceptual Lessons; 2) Capacity to Act: Legacy and Impact of Privatization in Cities; 3) De-Privatization in Cities: Resistance and Adaptation; and, 4) Toward (Re)municipalism? The Future of Urban Public Services. The event is free, but registration is required to attend.

The event is free, but registration is required to attend. Please register online for the event. For more information visit the official website.

The event is free, but registration is required to attend.

Register here

Organized by Alba Alexander (UIC, Political Science), Larry Bennett (DePaul University, Political Science), Evan McKenzie (UIC, Political Science) and Michael Pagano (UIC, Public Administration).

Cosponsored by UIC Department of Political Science, Great Cities Institute, Institute for the Humanities, and College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

DC Labor Chorus Winter Concert -- Sunday, December 12 (live-streamed)

DC Labor Chorus
Winter Concert

Sunday, December 12
4:00 to 5:30 p.m.

Join the DC Labor Chorus for a concert of some of their favorite songs with selections from folk, gospel, jazz, seasonal, and labor traditions, including new songs inspired by recent events. The Chorus is made up of labor and community activists who love to sing for peace, for joy, and a belief in the power of song to touch hearts and minds. “You’ll leave inspired and energized!” they promise.

Live‐streamed from Blue House Productions.

Register for tickets here.

For more info call 202-637-3963