On Sunday, December 3rd, from 10 AM to 6 PM, the City College of San Francisco’s Mission Campus will serve as the epicenter for a pulsating convergence of intellectual rigor and revolutionary spirit. This meeting of the minds is none other than the annual Howard Zinn Book Fair. In the words of the event organizers:
“The Howard Zinn Book Fair is an annual celebration of The People’s History, past present, and future. We bring together left authors, readers, organizers, and community members to debate and discuss strategies for a better world. This year’s Book Fair will be held on Sunday, December 3rd at the Mission Campus of City College of San Francisco. We organize this event in an era of attacks on memory. We organize against historical amnesia.”
It’s a forum that honors the legacy of Howard Zinn by championing a nuanced understanding of history, one that refuses to succumb to the pall of amnesia often induced by mainstream narratives. A Radical Guide will be there, camera at the ready, capturing the illuminating dialogues and invaluable insights of specific panel discussions.
(you can see previous years’ coverage here)
The Discussions A Radical Guide Will Be Covering
Building the Future in the Present: Lessons from Cooperation Jackson
Panelists: Kali Akuno, Sacajawea Hall, Matt Meyer
Book: Jackson Rising Redux: Lessons on Building the Future in the Present
Kali Akuno is a co-founder of Cooperation Jackson, an inspiring initiative aimed at building a solidarity economy in Jackson, Mississippi. His work intertwines community organizing with economic self-sufficiency, rejecting conventional capitalist structures in favor of a decentralized approach that foregrounds collective ownership.
Sacajawea Hall is another linchpin in the Cooperation Jackson machinery. She’s deeply committed to educational and ecological projects, bridging the gap between activism and grounded, local action.
Matt Meyer is a peace activist and educator whose influences range from liberation theology to anti-apartheid movements. A formidable mediator, he joins this panel to offer a broader perspective on how grassroots activism can reshape economic paradigms.
Fiction Unafraid of Politics
Panelists: Kim Stanley Robinson, Karen Joy Fowler, Terry Beeson, Summer Brenner, Joseph Matthews
Note: This is an Outspoken Authors panel
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robinson is a stalwart in science fiction, often integrating complex socio-political frameworks within his futuristic landscapes. His Mars Trilogy, for instance, subtly examines communalism and ecological sustainability.
Karen Joy Fowler
A bestselling author, Fowler’s narratives intertwine familial drama with the undercurrents of social movements, often challenging her readers to reevaluate their moral compasses.
An emerging author with a bent for speculative fiction, Terry Beeson threads the needle between political allegory and narrative craftsmanship.
Brenner is renowned for her gritty portrayals of urban life, often against the backdrop of social inequality and systemic issues.
Matthews is a writer who doesn’t shy away from addressing contentious issues head-on, whether it’s immigration or racial disparities.
Then & Now – Socialist Labor Organizers from the Seventies & Eighties Who Never Gave Up
Panelists: Jonathan Melrod, Steve Pitts, Peter Olney, and Warren Mar
Born into the political and cultural quiescence of the 1950s, Jon Melrod grew up in apartheid-like Washington DC. Active in the student movement that opposed the Vietnam War and a supporter of black liberation, Jon embraced the ideology that the working class held the power to radically transform society. He left the campus for the factory in 1973. For thirteen years, he immersed himself in the day-to-day struggles of Milwaukee’s working class, both on the factory floor and in the political arena. Despite FBI surveillance and interference, Jon organized a militant rank-and-file caucus and rose through union ranks to a top leadership position in UAW Local 72. After a mass workforce cutback imposed by AMC’s joint venture partner Renault, he left to attend Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1985. Graduating cum laude with a JD, he opened a law firm in San Francisco, successfully representing hundreds of political refugees.
Peter Olney is a retired director of organizing for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). He was Associate Director of the University of California’s Institute for Labor and Employment (ILE). Olney holds a master’s in business administration from UCLA and resides in San Francisco. Olney teaches building trades union organizers as a member of the faculty of the Building Trades Academy at Michigan State University. Olney is an editor of The Stansbury Forum (stansburyforum.com).
Warren Mar was born and raised in San Francisco Chinatown. In 1974 he joined the I Wor Kuen (IWK) an Asian Revolutionary organization modeled after the Black Panther Party founded across the bay in Oakland. IWK merged with the August 29th Movement (ATM) and Congress of African Peoples (CAP) in 1978, forming the League of Revolutionary Struggle (LRS). Warren remained with the LRS until their dissolution in 1990. During that time he worked as a rank and file member of CWA, Retail Clerks, Teamsters and finally Hotel and Restaurant Employees, (HERE). At HERE he was elected as a cook onto the union executive board and SF Labor Council. He would become a union organizer with HERE, the California Nurses (CNA) and the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Institute. He retired from the SF Community College where he coordinated vocational programs for dislocated workers and was an adjunct faculty in the Labor and Community Studies Dept.
Steven Pitts is a long-time labor strategist. For 19 years, Steven led the UC Berkeley Labor Center, where he focused on a wide range of issues facing Black workers. He is a co-founder of the National Black Worker Center. Prior to joining the Labor Center, he taught economics for 15 years at the Houston Community College, and worked in a machine shop where he was active in the United Steelworkers of America. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Houston in 1994.
In a time when the commodification of resistance is all too common, events like the Howard Zinn Book Fair stand as a crucial counterpoint, encouraging genuine, thoughtful discourse. These gatherings serve as vital platforms, allowing us to actively combat revisionist histories and societal ignorance by reclaiming our intellectual landscapes. A Radical Guide will be on the ground, capturing the intellectual vigor and passionate dialogues that characterize this event. Whether you can attend in person or not, our coverage ensures you won’t miss out on these transformative discussions.
For those who wish to explore the entire array of panels and activities, the full schedule can be accessed at the Howard Zinn Book Fair’s Official Website. It’s an abundant resource, showcasing a range of topics and speakers that promise to ignite your imagination and stoke your resolve to create a more equitable world.
Stay tuned for our in-depth coverage.