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What Would a Better Fresno Look Like to You?

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Stop the Hate!

[This is the speech given by Loretta Kensinger, Central Valley Progressive PAC Vice President, at the Stop the Hate rally on August 24. The event was held in the Tower District on August 24]

Loretta Kensinger gave a powerful talk at the Stop the Hate rally held in the Tower District in Fresno.

I am so honored to be able to stand here with you all today and to speak. I want to state clearly I speak today out of a profound love against ideas filled with hate. While I speak in hope we can embrace Dr. King’s grand ideal of “beloved community,” I recognize that such love does not come through blindness to our faults; it comes only with honesty, reconciliation, atonement and forgiveness. To speak of such community love is to speak of complexity not simplicity, though today we are presented with a simple choice. As in the 1930’s, we face the question posed in Florence Reece’ great labor organizing ballad: “which side are you on?” Are you on the side of hate, of fear, of a vision that says our community must always be divided? Or are you on the side of unity and the hope we can build “beloved community”? We here today know which side we are on!

This is a particularly poignant question in this age of rising hate groups. And increasingly it is a vital question for people who look like me. We are being told by groups spewing hate that they speak for us, for white people, for people like me. So it is particularly vital that people who look like me decide decisively, state publicly, and clearly which side we are on. As African-American, lesbian, feminist author Audre Lorde stated, “your silence will not protect you.” So I am here to let you know which side I am on. When the KKK speakers claim to talk for white people I will stand up proudly and say ”not in my name.” Evoking activist Mab Segrest powerful memoir, you can call me a race traitor.

And when our President and others claim that to honor United States history we must continue to honor those traitors who ripped this country apart in order to continue to enslave African-Americans, than I stand with the great-great-grandsons of “Stonewall” Jackson, and say no! I say our history is more than this tragedy.

I stand on the side of history that that gives us Angelina and Sarah Grimké, born to one of the wealthiest slave holding families in South Carolina, who courageously spoke-out strongly against slavery and bigotry all their lives. I stand with Henry David Thoreau who wrote so eloquently of the importance of civil disobedience in his opposition to the imperialist Mexican-American War. I stand with Frederick Douglas, that former slave who rose to become one of our most powerful voices for justice, including the rights of women. I stand with Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza, in recognizing all lives will matter only when we establish firmly that black lives matter. I stand with all those who have faced down bulldozers and tanks with prayers and bodies and flowers and love, most recently seen in Standing Rock. We can’t hide from our history of racism, imperialism, and homophobia, but while we try to teach its horrors we should recognize the long rich history of those who had the courage to resist. Let’s build monuments to our rich heritage of courageous people who stood and who fought, and even died, for love. Monuments to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, to Fred Korematsu, to Fannie Lou Hammer, to Anne Mae Aquash, to Matthew Shepard, and to Heather D. Heyer. These are surely all my ancestors, not in blood, but in spirit.

Loretta Kensinger gave this speech to several hundred people at the Stop the Hate rally.
Photos by Mike Rhodes

We must remember individuals and communities are not chained to be inevitably what their parents were. We can learn; we can do better. The writers of the constitution did not state “we the people in order to form a perfect union”. They said “we the people in order to form a more perfect union”. That “more” is the key. In each generation we take hold the reins and act to make this union better; perfection is not an end point, it is a hope. And for me that hope is articulated in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s beautiful view of that mountain top, in Emma Lazarus amazing call to “Give me your tired, your poor”, in the 40,000 who stood last weekend in Boston, and in you here today.

Deciding to stand on the side of justice is a step. Being willing to put our bodies between the jackboots and those most directly threatened is another step we can take. Learning to recognize and hear the dog-whistles that for years have emboldened and empowered the extreme terrorists hate groups is another step to take. I believe the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, a man who referred to his tent city confinement areas as a “concentration camp,” will be heard as a clear whistle by extreme hate groups that President Trump’s condemnation in the wake of Charlottesville are insincere. And we must take steps to organize to take back the high ground and build a vision of beloved community into the fabric of our society.

There are many ways to organize, but I urge you to recognize that local and regional politics are as vital as national politics to consider. The cities who have defiantly called for sanctuary status for immigrants attest to this. The cities that led the way on LGBT rights well before the national government stepped in, attest to this. The U.S. cities now on totally renewable energy attest to this.

I belong to one organization engaged in trying to reclaim our local government and push toward a more progressive vision, a more truly beloved community, a more perfect union. The Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee organizes resources to promote progressive political agendas in Fresno. We are currently organizing to help concerned citizens in District 7 and District 3 city council areas find each other, articulate their issues, and amply their voices through support of progressive candidates. These districts matter to us all, not only because they are our neighbors, but also because victories in both races will influence the entire city council in a more progressive direction. Pam Whalen, CVPPAC president, is circulating in the crowd if you want to join up now.

Whatever your next steps, remember today! Remember: we are stronger than hate. We are stronger together. We know which side we are on. And we say clearly as one: No hate! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.Stop

The next meeting of the CVPPAC will be Saturday, October 14, at 3:30 p.m. at the Fresno Center for Nonviolence, located at 1584 N. Van Ness Ave.

For more information, contact:
Pam Whalen
CVPPAC President
pamwhalen@comcast.net
559-994-9390

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


News

Articles about Strategy, Elections and Winning Political Power in Fresno

The following articles, printed in the Community Alliance newspaper, represent the perspective of the CVPPAC:

September 2017

Click here to read Are you Progressive?

Do you consider yourself on the left or a liberal? A progressive or a neo-liberal? Or do all of these mean the same thing? As a founding member of the Central Valley Progressive Political Action Committee (CVPPAC), I have been asked many times, by people with the best of intentions and some who were hostile, what we mean by progressive?


August 2017

Click here to read: Why this CVPPAC member is running for office

Daren Miller wants to be the District 3 Fresno City Council member who will replace Oliver Baines, who terms out in November 2018. According to Miller, he is comfortable running as a progressive because in that district (west Fresno, downtown and the southern part of the Tower District) there is no downside to being an advocate for working people, demanding decent and affordable housing for residents and establishing Fresno as a sanctuary city. Miller said, “the good thing about District 3 is that if you show yourself as a moderate you are going to lose votes.”


July 2017

Click here to read: Dump Nunes!

Valley Congressional Representative Devin Nunes’ role as a lapdog for President Donald Trump does not sit well with many of his constituents. As Trump, with help from Nunes, tries desperately to dodge allegations that his campaign team was complicit in the Russian interference of the 2016 U.S. elections, candidates are stepping forward to take back the 22nd Congressional District.


June 2017

Click here to read article: If you Want a Progressive Majority on the Fresno City Council

The 2018 Fresno City Council District 7 race is going to be even more exciting than expected.  There are already two progressive candidates interested in the position and a Republican has emerged who, from what we are hearing, wants to buy his way into City Hall. The two progressive candidates are both close to the CVPPAC—Nelson Esparza and Genoveva Islas.  Although it is too early for the CVPPAC to endorse either candidate, our analysis indicates that if one of them wins the District 7 race, there will be a liberal/progressive majority on the City Council.


May 2017

Click here to read article: Here is How we are Building a Progressive Movement

The Central Valley Progressive PAC has launched a social media campaign targeting young people, encouraging them to not only be more politically engaged but also to aspire to take political power in this community. With hope, enthusiasm and a strategic plan to win elections, our goal is to get progressives elected to school boards, the City Council and eventually as the mayor of Fresno. How is the CVPPAC going to do that? Find out by reading this interview I did with the CVPPAC’s youngest executive board member, Simone Cranston-Rhodes.April 2017. . .


April 2017:

Click here to read article: Another Fresno is Possible

If I’m right about this, we are about to change Fresno into paradise where those living in other parts of the state and country look to us as a beacon of hope. We will base our public policy on the core progressive values of social, economic and environmental justice. If I’m right, you will become a member of the Central Valley Progressive PAC and we will take political power in this community from the school board to the mayor. If I’m wrong (and you don’t join the CVPPAC), it will be business as usual with the corruption, poverty and ecological degradation we have come to expect. Of this I’m certain—the choice is yours.


March 2017:

Click here to read article: Power to the People

If everyone reading this issue of the Community Alliance newspaper joined the Central Valley Progressive PAC, we would run this town. Fresno would be a Sanctuary City, we would have police accountability, the homeless would be treated with dignity and respect, people would be paid a living wage and there would be green space and parks in every neighborhood.

With 10,000 members (a mere 1% of the population of Fresno County), the CVPPAC would have enough resources to run viable electoral campaigns in every Fresno race in the next four years. We could elect progressives to every local office from school board trustee to mayor.


February 2017:

Understanding the Political Landscape of the City

 

January 2017:

Don’t Mourn, Organize!

 

October 2016:

The Elephant in the Room

Will Henry Perea Be Fresno’s Next Mayor?

Be a Part of the Political Revolution in Fresno, join the Central Valley Progressive PAC


Progressive is our Middle Name, But What Does it really mean to be Progressive?

https://fresnoalliance.com/progressive-is-our-middle-name-but-what-does-it-really-mean-to-be-progressive/


WANT A MORE PROGRESSIVE FRESNO? …then join the Central Valley Progressive PAC