Part 2 here.
While officially extinct for 25 years gone, the ultra-militant, habitually violent and loyally pro-China CWP is still having an impact in New York, The Bay Area and Southern California, through covert networks of former members.
Judy Chu led a CWP front, the Federation for Progress, in the 1980s, while beginning her ascent of the Democratic Party ladder. Now it appears that Chu is still working closely with residual CWP networks.
In 1985, the CWP dropped Maoism, changed its name to the New Democratic Movement and began a deliberate program of infiltrating the Democratic Party at the highest levels. The CWP never abandoned Marxist revolution as its goal. It merely exchanged the subtle long term infiltration of the institutions as recommended by Italian Communist Party leader, Antonio Gramsci, for the outdated, confrontational street-marching tactics of Mao Tse Tung.
A key part of CWP/NDM strategy was to exploit racial and ethnic divisions as a means of achieving p0wer.
A perfect example occurred in Monterey Park, East Los Angeles, in the mid-1980s. The area, previously largely white and Latino, was experiencing an influx of immigrants from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Eventually, some longtime residents sought a ban on Chinese-language storefront signs. When a divided City Council voted in 1986 to support a resolution endorsing, among other things, English as the nation’s official language, Judy Chu, by then on the local school board and her husband Mike Eng (a lawyer), fought back by forming the Coalition for Harmony in Monterey Park.
Another key CHAMP member was Jose Zapata Calderon, then an academic in Sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College in Claremont.
“Judy and Mike were always trying to find ways to bring people together,” said Jose Calderon, another member of CHAMP who is now an associate professor at Pitzer College in Claremont. They started “harmony days” to celebrate the city’s various cultures and they led a petition drive that moved the council to rescind its divisive resolution.
Chu, Eng and Calderon did succeed in reversing the language ban, an action which boosted Judy Chu’s political career through a local Mayoralty, Assembly, and eventually onto Congress.
Coincidentally, all three activists were linked to the Communist Workers Party – with Calderon, a confirmed leader of the group.
Calderon was not a local. He grew up in a small town in Colorado, where he went on to earn a B.A. from the University of Colorado, Greeley, in Communications.
In Greeley in the 1970s, Calderon started the Al Frente de Lucha (meaning in the forefront of the struggle), which worked on the United Farm Workers boycott of lettuce and grapes. He took California students to work with the UFW and also worked with the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan or MEChA, a radical Marxist/separatist Chicano group, as well as the League of United Latin American Citizens.
One of Calderon’s first actions after graduation, was a visit to the National Headquarters of the United Farm Workers in Delano, California. The organization’s radical leader, Cesar Chavez, told the young graduate: “You have only so much time in your life… And you can easily throw your life away… Or, you can use your life in service to others; empower others in building a more just and equal society.”
By the late 1970s, Calderon was a full fledged member of the Colorado branch of the Communist Workers Party.
After 5 CWP members were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan at Greensboro North Carolina – the infamous “Greensboro Massacre,” Calderon protested the killings in downtown Denver.
Calderon got his name splashed nationwide in August 1980 when he infiltrated the National Governor’s Conference to protest lack of punishment for the killers of his comrades.
Independent Presidential candidate John Anderson was midway through his speech to the conference, when Jose Calderon ran to the front of the meeting room screaming at the candidate and threw eggs at both of them. The eggs missed their mark and security agents quickly subdued the 33 year-old comrade Calderon.
Calderon has since developed more affinity for the political process and in 2012, was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
After his burst of glory in Colorado, Calderon moved to Los Angeles to pursue his studies at UCLA.
He quickly hooked up with Mike Eng and Judy Chu, and he and his wife Marilyn Calderon have worked closely with them ever since.
Marilyn Calderon actually served on Chu’s legislative staff in the California Assembly. Mrs Calderon, who later became president of the United Farm Workers, worked closely with Chu in the mid-2000s, trying to build support for Chu’s proposed legislation to protect field hands from sunstroke.
Judy Chu has always supported Jose Calderon’s militant actions. In a show of opposition to Pomona College’s decision to terminate 17 employees who could not verify their employment documentation before a December 1, 2011, 5 p.m. deadline, 15 supporters of the terminated employees were arrested for refusing to move from the middle of an intersection.
CPD officers arrested the protesters, a group that included professor Jose Calderon.
“Many years from now, I know your children and students will ask you, ‘Where were you on that day when they fired those workers that brought the food to your table?’” Calderón told the assembled protestors, “All of you are going to be able to say to your children, ‘I was there and I was fighting injustice.’”
The terminated workers received a message of support from only one politician – Judy Chu. Bryan Urias, a member of Chu’s staff, attended the protest on behalf of the Congresswoman.
“She wanted me to be here to let all of you know, to let the workers know, to let Pomona College know, that she is watching what is going on and she is disgusted with the process that happened here,” Urias said.
Urias added that Chu had personally called College President Oxtoby to ask him to reconsider his decision to terminate employees who could not update their documentation by Dec. 1. He also said that Chu’s office intended to help the terminated workers who wanted to fix their documentation and get re-hired by Pomona.
Friday 30 March 2012, Jose Calderon organized the Annual Latino and Latina Roundtable Cesar Chavez Breakfast at The Avalon, 1098 W McKinley Ave, Pomona.
In keeping with the tradition of honoring leaders in our region who have exemplified the principles and values of Cesar Chavez, the Roundtable is honoring Congresswoman Judy Chu.
Further evidence of Judy Chu’s ties to Jose Calderon and to a wider network of former Communist Workers Party members, is contained in this invitation to a July 10, 2011 “conversation” with Judy Chu and Oakland mayor Jean Quan at the Empress Pavillion, in LA Chinatown.
Jean Quan, is a former member of the Communist Workers Party.
The Honorary Host Committee, totally gives the game away.
- Judy Chu – US Representative.
- Mike Eng – California Assembly member.
- Stewart Kwoh – founding President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles and is very prominent in the Los Angeles Chinese community. Once very close to, and probably a member of, the CWP.
- Kent Wong – Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, where he teaches Labor Studies and Asian American Studies. Long time associate of Judy Chu, and former member of the CWP.
- Jose Zapata Calderon – a former member of the CWP.
- Jai Lee – the Senior Program Officer and Manager of the Southern California Region at the California Endowment. Kent Wong’s wife.
A gathering of the old comrades? Just reminiscing about past campaigns? Or evidence of ongoing co-operation between Judy Chu and former Communist Workers Party comrades?
Part 4 coming soon…
Trevor Loudon is the author of Barack Obama and the Enemies Within and is nearing completion of a new title: “The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the US Congress.”