Friday, January 9, 2009

New Haven Peoples Center 2008 Annual Report

71 Years of Activism - A Site on the Connecticut African American Freedom Trail
2008 was a busy and exciting year. New Growth Praise Center found a permanent home on Dixwell Avenue in January. Unite-Here Joint Board successfully organized New England Linen and has moved out of their third floor office. The First Friday Café was revived with films about issues being discussed in the elections, and then the Free2Spit poetry venue of Baub Bidon. The second and third floors house 1199 Training and upgrading Fund; Peoples Weekly World; Marsalka Library, and a community meeting room. Regular activities in the first floor common room included music shows, Home Movie Day, cultural programs from Latin America and regular meetings of the Greater New Haven Peace Council (2nd and 4th Tues) and Unidad Latina en Accion (Tues, 4th Sats).

1 Open House
3 English Class
3 African American History planning meeting
4 Music Show
4 Unidad Latina en Accion special meeting
10 English Class
11 Unidad Latina en Accion gather for rally
12 Marxism class
13 Music Show
16 Bible Study
17 MoveOn Media Workshop
18 Benefit concert
20 Peace Council potluck with Buddist Monks
31 African American History planning meeting

4 Potluck supper and music show
6 ULA meet for trip to Danbury
8 Intro to Marxism
9 ULA event
14 Unite-Here banner making
16 Birthday party
16 ULA event
17 Music Show
24 African American History Month Celebration

8 Music show
9 Birthday party
15 Music show
16 Rachel Corey memorial
16 Music show
18 Trade Union Plaza tenants meeting
20 YCL workshop
29 Birthday party

4 Unite-Here
4 Music show
6 Music show
10 Unite-Here meeting
10 1199 membership meeting
12 Unite-Here organizing meeting
13 Music show
14 Unite-Here organizing meeting
15 Unite-Here organizing meeting
18 Unite-Here organizing meeting
19 Memorial service
20 Unite-Here organizing meeting
24 Unite-Here organizing meeting
25 Unite-Here election and victory
26 Music show
27 Music show

3 Birthday party
4 PWW May Day Celebration
9 Peace Council anniversary
9 Unidad Latnia en Accion
16 Music show
25 Music show
30 Music show
31 Jazz show

1 75th birthday party
6 First Friday Café film “Sicko”
11 YCL meeting
14 Unite-Here negotiation session
16 Music show
19 Music show
21 Tag Sale, PWW
22 Music Show
24 YCL
25 Music show
27 Music show
29 Music show

3 First Friday Café film “Finding Our Voices”
10 Music show
11 Music show
13 Music Show
15 YCL meeting
19 Music show
21 Music show
22 Peace Council event
24 Music show
26 Music show
29 YCL meeting
31 Music show

1 First Friday Café “Made in LA”
2 Music show
3 Music show
8 Music show
27 Unidad Latina en Accion
29 Music show

5 First Friday Café “At the River I Stand”
and Rabble Rousers
6 Music show
7 Music show
9 Peace Council
13 Unidad Latina en Accion
15 YCL meeting
17 Music show
20 Knock for Peace
20 Music show
24 Equadorian event
26 Music show
28 Music show
29 Music show

1 Music show
3 First Friday Café “The Great Debaters”
10 Music show
11 Music show
13 YCL meeting
17 Music show
18 Home Video Day
25 Music show
27 YCL meeting

1 Music show
3 YCL meeting
6 Music Show
7 First Friday Café Free2Spit
14 Music show
19 Birthday party
21 Music show
22 Colombian event
23 Music show
29 Painting Common Room
30 Painting Common Room

1 Painting first floor
1 YCL meeting
5 First Friday Café Free2Spit
7 89th Anniversary, CPUSA event
8 Music show
13 Retreat
20 Bolovian event

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Milada and John Marsalka Research Library

The Milada and John Marsalka Research Library is a non-circulating library of books and national and international pamphlets dating back to 1900. The topics include literature, the labor movement, Marxism, civil rights and history. The volumes, pamphlets and some periodicals and archives have been donated from the personal libraries of those who participated in the Peoples Center over the decades. Volunteer assistance is needed for cataloging. For appointment, call 203-624-8664.

Catalog is full page and searchable here.

History of the New Haven Peoples Center

Built in 1851, 37 Howe Street was purchased IN 1937 by a group of mainly Jewish immigrant workers who fervently believed that their new homeland should be a model of peace and social and economic justice. The tradesmen and artisans who had grown up speaking Polish, Yiddish, Russian, Ukranian and Polish, envisioned for their families a center of social and cultural life and reached out into the community in friendship and solidarity.
  • 1930s: housed the Unity Players, the first Black/white integrated drama group in New Haven; and the New Haven Redwings, the first Black/white basketball team in New Haven. Provided space during the Great Depression for the unemployed to organize for jobs; housed the Connecticut CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) and was the initial meeting place for many of today's local unions. First celebration of International Women's Day in New Haven.
  • 1940s: organized rallies against lynching and against segregation; initiated New Haven’s first evening college “to fulfill the need of workers to advance their education” (it became the evening division of the New Haven State Teachers College, now Southern Connecticut State University
  • 1950s and 1960s: participated in civil rights and peace movements; struggled against the impact of McCarthyism on labor and other progressive organizations and activists. Organized a group to protect Paul Robeson at famous Peekskill, New York concert. Meeting place for Jewish and Ukrainian progressives.
  • 1970s-1980s: provided meeting space to working men and women organizing for better wages, for health care, for weekends off, for paid vacations: machinists at Winchester; workers at Yale and Yale-New Haven Hospital; health care providers at the Jewish Home; New Haven teachers; and Harco, and Circuitwise workers. Held weekly potluck suppers which served as a place for socializing and exchange by peace and justice, civil rights and women activists. Local coordination for national marches on Washington DC. Hosted dances and other youth activities. Opened a Crisis Information / Action Center to provide assistance and organize against utility rate hikes and other economic emergencies.

  • 1990s: housed the first in the country homeless run day time drop-in center. Solidarity work with unions on strike and organizing. Participated in labor-community coalitions to protect healthcare and pensions, and stop plant closings. Meeting place for peace organizations. Rehab of the building to upgrade. Home to 1199 Training and Upgrading Fund nursing home students. Research library developed. Designated as a site on the Connecticut African American Freedom Trail by the Connecticut Historical Commission.
  • 2000s: original meeting place of Unidad Latina en Accion. Meeting place of New Haven Peace Council. Became a chapter of Alliance for Retired Americans. Participant in Community Organized for Responsible Development and Connecticut Center for a New Economy. Home to New Growth Praise Center until 2009 when they found a permanent location. Home to Knowing God Ministries. Home to 1199 Training and Upgrading Fund. Home to Unite Here Joint Board during New England Linen organizing drive. First Friday Cafe with music, film and in 2009 the Free 2 Spit poetry venue. Location for poetry, music shows, forums and other cultural and educational activities.
  • 2010s: office for New Haven Workers' Center and ULA. The New Elm Cit Dream youth group was founded, holding weekly meetings, events, marches and activities training youth to organize.  SEIU 32 BJ opened an office here.  In 2012 a large celebration was organized to mark the 75th birthday of the Peoples Center, addressed by elected officials, labor and community leaders who pledged to help win support for the large project of repointing the bricks and other necessary updates.  In 2014 the Black and Hispanic Caucus of the New Haven Board of Alders presented the New Haven Peoples Center with a community service Heritage Award at their annual gala in recognition of the contributions of this all-volunteer institution which has continued to be a welcoming space for labor, community, youth, peace, immigrant and many other groups since it was founded.