The main locations for the Third U.S. Social Forum were San José, Calif., June 24-28, and Philadelphia, Pa., June 25-28.
The diverse San José gathering drew activists involved in grassroots movements from around the state, the western United States and a number of other countries. Attendees joined together in dozens of workshops, plenaries and “people's movement assemblies” to network, discuss strategy and tactics, and plan actions and campaigns under a militant, unifying slogan: “Another World is Possible. Another System is Necessary.”
Other Forum happenings included exhibits, direct actions, cultural events and film festivals, all aimed at educating on issues and solutions and improving movement cohesion and effectiveness. Among the issues addressed were single-payer health care, disability rights, housing, the environment and climate change, war and militarism, and racism and police brutality.
BALSC sponsored a panel at the Unitarian Church Friday evening featuring Frank Lara, ANSWER Coalition; Alice Loaiza, Marcha Patriótica; and Porfirio Quintano, Frente de Resistencia Hondureño, speaking on Mexico, Colombia and Hondurus, respectively. Some 40 attended and engaged in a lively question and answer session following the informative presentations. All three speakers addressed the topic: “How the U.S. Exports its Militarism to Latin America: Honduras, Colombia, Mexico.”
The next morning, a panel discussed “Cuba and Venezuela: Another World is Possible.” Hosted by St. Paul's Methodist Church, the event again drew some 40 Forum participants. Speakers were Gloria La Riva, ANSWER Coalition; Carlos Ron, Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Washington, D.C.; and Roger Harris, Marin Task Force on the Americas. Gains of the Cuban and Venezuelan revolutions made in the face of unremitting U.S. hostility and sabotage were outlined along with the challenges both countries currently face.
In Philadelphia, activists from as far away as Texas gathered. ANSWER Coalition members participated in workshops, People’s Movement Assemblies and plenaries that brought together organizers from a variety of struggles.
In addition to education and planning, the U.S. Social Forum in Philadelphia included several demonstrations. Following a workshop sponsored by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, participants marched to a nearby Wendy’s to demand the corporation respect the rights of farm workers. On the third day of the social forum, a march to Philadelphia’s City Hall was held to protest the cuts to vital social services that have done great damage to poor and working people in recent years.
This demonstration was joined by another march organized by the Coalition for REAL (Racial, Economic and Legal) Justice in solidarity with the victims of the Charleston massacre. Addressing the crowd, ANSWER organizer Eugene Puryear stated, “This type of racist terror has been used throughout American history to try to stop the struggle for Black liberation, but we will not be intimidated.”
In both San Jose and Philadelphia, U.S. Social Forums participants recommitted themselves to the struggle for justice and liberation.