The role of a CPUSA neighborhood club: action, vision, growth


The Winchester-Newhall club has a long history.  It was first formed during the movement to Free Angela Davis.  It was composed of comrades who worked at the Winchester factory located in the heart of the African American community where many families had relocated from the South.  Club members helped transform the union into a leader in the city and state.  When a company from Belgium bought the plant and moved it abroad, the workplace club transformed itself into a neighborhood club.

Now, our club serves as a filter on what’s going on in the neighborhood.  We meet on the first and third Tuesday each month. At some meetings, friends and elected officials come by to discuss problems and issues. Conclusions are reached that the club members pass on to others.

One example was the campaign to turn an abandoned building formerly used by the CT Department of Social Services into a place for jobs and youth needs.  The Newhall neighborhood has historically been left without opportunities.

In the summer of  2017 an intensive door to door campaign with voter registration and a youth survey was launched by the club along with the YCL.  By the end of the summer there were 120 households receiving the CT People’s World print edition at their door each week.  The survey showed that the top concerns were the need for recreational gathering spaces for young people, and the need for jobs.

The YCL/New Elm City Dream had marched for “Jobs for Youth – Jobs for All” downtown.  Now was the time for a march in the Newhall neighborhood to the site of the abandoned building.  Ally organizations Ice the Beef and New Haven Rising joined in and turned out.  Information was left with the houses on the march route in advance.  The march got good media and good reviews in the neighborhood.

It took a year and a half, but the abandoned building is now under renovation by the City of New Haven for a laundry co-op that will potentially employ 150 from the community and service Yale New Haven Hospital which is now sending its laundry out of town.  It will also have space for other activities.

At times it seemed like nothing would be done.  But the club kept the building on our regular agendas and shared tactical concerns with elected officials. We kept the neighborhood informed through fliers in the People’s World.

The ward has turned from one of the lowest turnout to one of the highest turnout wards in city and state elections, largely through the leadership of the Alder who is also a steward and group home worker in 1199.  Our club has contributed to an understanding of the importance of voting.

The club has taught us to grow. It enriches each of us. Some of us had never been to a hearing at city hall before.  Some of us had never been to a neighborhood management team before. We’ve learned what’s out there and how to overcome hurdles together so we can benefit from things that improve our lives, even things like neighborhood tree plantings.

Our club is a place for community members to come and talk about politics and filter out the lies.  Like incidents of police brutality. And the fact that the whole tax cut went to the super rich. We got nothing and paid more. As workers we deserve the best, we created the wealth.  Different young people have come to our club this year and last year. Socialism is being talked about more in the mainstream. Trump makes socialism a bad word, and that shows it must be a good thing. Who better to explain socialism than us?

Our club covers all generations. Each meeting we have a youth report and a retirees report. It is a very unifying space. You never grow old being in the Communist Party. There is always more to contribute and more to learn.

Our conclusion is that it is true that the club is the heart of the Communist Party. Rooting a club in a specific neighborhood unites our Party with the diverse working class.  It has united our club with the most exploited and oppressed.  The consistency and significance of what we are doing has made the club an important part of our lives, something that we plan around and look forward to.

Another conclusion is that our club could not maintain this level of education and action without the full support of the state committee and district leadership.  In that way our work is united with the work of all the other clubs in our state, and with our national policies.

Another conclusion is that there is no substitute for building relationships with the people one-on-one.  Bringing the People’s World to the doors has been a big tool for that.  At first one comrade was bringing  the People’s World to all the doors, but that was not possible to continue.  Now there are five comrades who bring the People’s World to the families on or near their block.

Our club is looking forward to making sure our neighborhood does its part to defeat Trump and the extremists with a new progressive majority in 2020.  Let’s learn from each other and build strong working class based grass roots organization that will make our Communist Party USA bigger and better in our 100th year plus.


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