Richard Walton 1928-2012

From GPUS:

Richard Walton died last week. He is an important part of our history as a party. He was always, from the getgo of our party and before, deeply wanting there to be a strong third party in the United States. As part of this, he ran for Vice President for the Citizens Party in 1984, a precursor of the Green Party. Sonia Johnson was the party’s presidential candidate that year. He helped found the Rhode Island Green Party several years later. Together with Tony Affigne and Greg Gerritt and others from that state, he also helped in founding the Association of State Green Parties in 1996/7/8. He served as Secretary of two vitally important early meetings of the ASGP – in Topsham. Maine in the fall of 1997 and in Santa Fe in the Spring of 1998. His extensive notes were crucial in giving depth and vibrancy to ASGP, the organization which morphed in a few years into the Green Party of the United States in 2001. Richard has been a stalwart member of its National Committee and its International Committee to the present day.

Richard has an amazing history of accomplishments as a journalist, a prolific author (of 12 books), as a teacher (including The New School for Social Research in NYC, and Rhode Island College, where among other achievements he helped unionize Adjunct Faculty), and as a political and community activist. He is well known as an activist against poverty, homelessness, and hunger. He has traveled to 50 countries, especially to Africa and the Mid-East. His participation in the USGP’s International Committee was steady and balanced in his ability to sort out the problems of a growing and often controversial Committee. In 2008, Richard was interviewed as part of a major feature article in The Providence Phoenix.

A personal friend, I mourn his passing and celebrate his life,

John Rensenbrink

additional information on Richard Walton can be found on wikipedia


Maryland Greens mourn passing of Bob Auerbach

The Maryland Green Party has posted a remembrance of Bob Auerbach. A long time Green who ran for office in Maryland’s 5th Congressional District several times, Auerbach was struck by a car as he walked in Greenbelt, MD. 92 years old, he died overnight. The full text of the Maryland Green’s recollection of Auerrbach is below the fold. Continue Reading


Wangari Muta Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement, Mazingira Green Party of Kenya, Nobel Peace Prize winner, dead of cancer at age 71

Wangari MaathaiIn a statement posted at their website, The Greenbelt Movement announced the death of Wangari Muta Maathai, the founder of the organization.

Prof. Wangari Muta Maathai started the Green Belt Movement in 1977, working with women to improve their livelihoods by increasing their access to resources like firewood for cooking and clean water. She became a great advocate for better management of natural resources and for sustainability, equity, and justice. A synopsis of her life and work can be read here.

In addition to her work with the Greenbelt Movement, Maathai founded the Mazingira Green Party of Kenya. The Daily Nation in Nairobi gives an interesting perspective on her brave efforts and extensive accomplishments. Greens and others of good will across the globe will miss her deeply.


Memorial bike ride honors Natasha Pettigrew, 2010 MD Green Party US Senate candidate

Gazette.net reports on a bike ride held in memory of Natasha Pettigrew, the Maryland Green Party’s 2010 US Senate candidate who was killed by a motorist while riding her bike last year:

Sophie Chan-Wood didn’t know Natasha Pettigrew, but when the avid cyclist heard about a Saturday morning memorial ride honoring the Cheverly woman, she saw an opportunity to ride to Prince George’s County via the Watts Branch Trail from Washington, D.C.

However, it wasn’t until the Rockville woman was hundreds of feet from the site of the Sept. 19, 2010, hit and run that claimed cyclist Pettigrew’s life that the car honking began, a reminder that both motorists and bicycles should be able to share the road. Continue Reading


Natasha Pettigrew Remembered

From the Washington Post, Dec. 22:

By Melissa Bell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010;
Natasha Pettigrew stood on the shore of Virginia Beach looking out at the choppy, wild waves of the sea before her first triathlon in 2005. Some of her fellow competitors demurred; conditions were rougher than expected, too risky, they thought, for the race’s first leg.

“I saw Natasha standing there in her wet suit, staring at the water,” said her mother, Kenniss Henry. “I thought, She’s going to swim. She’s going to do it.”

Pettigrew did. She charged in, dove under a huge wave and swam the kilometer out and back to shore. She came bounding out of the sea, grinning and waving to her mother. “My heart was in my throat, and she’s gushing about how cute the lifeguard was!” Henry remembered.

The challenge of that first race had Pettigrew hooked. But five years later, she would dive into a very different kind of race, where the prize was not a medal but a U.S. Senate seat.

Pettigrew, 30, had spent her Washington-area childhood tagging along with her mother to political demonstrations, museums and documentaries about social issues. Henry said Pettigrew was a statistic: the child of a single, black mother. But Pettigrew, who grew up watching her mom work three jobs to make sure her daughter could get a good education, wanted to show that hard work could overcome the dire predictions often lobbed at women such as her. She took a leave of absence from her final year of law school at the University of Miami and returned to Largo with plans to run for Senate.

Pettigrew knew the race would be an uphill battle when she walked into the office of Brian Bittner, the co-chair of the Maryland Green Party, and asked if his party would back her candidacy. It was a bold request, given that she and Bittner had not previously met.

“We don’t really relish being in the role of the underdog,” Bittner said. “But we try our best to get our voice out there.” Pettigrew hadn’t been active with the party before, but her values lined up with theirs: social justice, environmental issues, feminism and grass-roots democracy. Pettigrew’s enthusiasm, and her willingness to enter the long and likely unwinnable battle, persuaded Bittner that she was the right voice for speak for the party.

The official campaign photograph on her Web site (headlined “Natasha for Senate: Running for the People!”) shows Pettigrew wearing a huge smile. Her hair is long and loose. Her face gleams with excitement. She relished time out in the field, meeting new people, stumping on ways to strengthen the education system, advocating for health care reform, talking to children about the need to stay in school. That she was a third-party candidate running against incumbent Barbara Mikulski — a Democrat popular with voters and the longest-serving female senator in U.S. history — did not dissuade Pettigrew; rather, she felt invigorated by the task.

“It cannot be the easy route. It always had to be a little bit different. She thrived in that mentality,” said her best friend, Imani Gamble. “The rest of us try to find the way we can do something with the least resistance. Not her.”

Winning the election was a long shot, Pettigrew knew, but garnering the most votes was not the only victory she sought. She wanted to offer people another option to incumbent politicians. She hoped to get votes without raising corporate money. She wanted to show people her own age that they didn’t have to wait around for someone else to fix things. If she could inspire some people, if she could make a difference, that would be a success.

“If you want to see change happen,” Pettigrew had told friends, “do it yourself, because it’s not going to happen otherwise.”

Despite the pressure of the campaign trail, Pettigrew made time for triathlon training. She was up and out of her mother’s house before dawn on the morning of Sept. 19 for a bike ride. She had often complained to friends in Miami how terrible the city was for bikers and praised the trails and bike lanes in Maryland.

She set out on one of those bike lanes along Route 202 in Largo. At 5:30 a.m., a Cadillac Escalade crashed into her; the driver didn’t realize she’d hit a person until she got home. Pettigrew died two days later, just five weeks before Election Day. An investigation is ongoing, according to police.

When Pettigrew died, her Facebook page filled up with notes from voters promising to write her name onto the ballot. Her mother stepped in to finish out her daughter’s campaign. “She had already won the race,” Henry said. “I just had to make the sprint to the finish line. That was the least I could do.”

Henry received 20,717 votes — just over 1 percent, but a win in her mind. On Election Day, a man approached a Green Party pollster and said Pettigrew’s story had inspired him to vote outside his party for the first time in his life. “We collectively completed what she set out to do,” Henry said.

Now Henry has taken on a new challenge: pushing the Maryland General Assembly to adopt stronger safety laws to protect bicyclists and pushing for tougher penalties for drivers who hit them.

It’s exactly what Pettigrew would have done — worked to fix the problem.


Margo Adair Remembered

Sent to me earlier this evening:

Margo Adair Remembered ~ by Rick Whaley and Ellen Smith (Milwaukee)

Margo Adair (San Francisco, Seattle) passed away in early September 2010 surrounded by loved ones.

Margo’s activism and commitment in Green circles was always at the highest level. She facilitated early, national Green Party (GP/GPUSA) meetings. Over the decades, Margo fearlessly facilitated mediations among some Green titans at various bioregional and Green gatherings (notably at Amherst in the very beginning of Greens, 1987). She was a main facilitator at GPUSA gatherings at Estes Park, Elkins, and Twin Cities, and it was a great gift to the formative stages of the Green movement in the United States. The “Racism and the Land” workshop she did at the Turtle Island Bioregional Congress in Squamish, British Columbia, was Olympian.

Her work directly and indirectly aided our regional environmental-justice work in Wisconsin, including the boat landing Witness for Non-Violence around Chippewa treaty rights.

She gave Chippewa activist, the late Walt Bresette, a national audience and even hosted Walt and his kids in San Fran as well in his California political tour in 1991. Her Green Letter/Greener Times was the first national environmental justice journal (unless I count The North Country Anvil as national) to publish my (RW) Green writing and theory.

Just as important as her political leadership has been the breadth of her political ideas, especially the integration of spirituality into politics…meditations I still use…this notion of personal transformations as part of the highest citizenship …alliance building skills and principles that she did with Shea Howell…her vision and relentless activism…all of it was immensely helpful. She managed to make a living doing her politics (not merely bring her politics to her job like most of us) and that was no small accomplishment.
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Greens mourn the passing of Billy McKinney, Cynthia’s father

WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders expressed sadness and sympathy for the family of former Georgia State Rep. James Edward “Billy” McKinney, father of Cynthia McKinney, after his passing on Thursday, July 15, following a long illness.  He was 83.

Billy McKinney served as a state legislator in Georgia for 30 years.  Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party’s 2008 presidential nominee and a former six-term Georgia member of the US House of Representatives, also served in the Georgia legislature.  They became the first father-daughter duo in the Georgia House when Ms. McKinney was first elected in 1992. Continue Reading


Billy McKinney, Cynthia McKinney’s father, dead at 83

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that Billy McKinney has died of cancer at the age of 83. He supported Cynthia McKinney’s Presidential bid with the Green Party in 2008, attending the nominating convention with her.

McKinney, like his daughter, was a Georgia state legislator. He was a police officer and a community activist. His Wikipedia entry is here.


Vice President of Rwandan Democratic Green Party murdered

In an article written by San Francisco Green Ann Garrison, San Francisco Bay View is reporting the murder of Rwandan Democratic Green Party vice-president Andrei Kagwa Rwisereka. Garrison writes that Rwisereka was

found dead, his head almost completely severed from his body, in the wetlands of the Makula River near Butare, Rwanda, on the morning of July 14, 2010.

The Rwandan Greens have tried to find a place in civil and political life in Rwanda, but the government of President Paul Kagame has made that participation almost impossible. Reports from Greens in Rwanda make mention of armed thugs breaking up meetings, police and political figures refusing to allow Greens to register their party and ignoring requests for investigations of violence done to Green leaders and their supporters. Non-violent representatives of other political parties have suffered similarly, and arrests and detentions for long stretches appear to be a tool of repression. Continue Reading


Green Party mourns Njere Alghanee, national leader in the movement for reparations

WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders, mourning the recent death of Njere Akosua Aminah Alghanee (‘Sister Courage’), national co-chair of National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA, http://www.ncobra.org), reaffirmed the party’s dedication to reparations for the descendents of enslaved Africans in the United States.

On June 24, Njere Alghanee had just returned from the US Social Forum in Detroit with plans to attend the annual meeting of N’COBRA in New Orleans the next day when her life was taken in a tragic auto accident.  June 24, 2010 was her 58th birthday.

“The Green Party, especially the party’s Black Caucus, has had a strong alliance with N’COBRA and has supported the demand for reparations.  We send our condolences and solidarity with Sister Courage’s family, friends, and fellow leaders in N’COBRA.  We honor her leadership,” said Alfred Molison, candidate for Houston City Council, District C (http://votealfred.com).

Members of the Green Party in attendance at the US Social Forum and the Green Party’s Annual National Meeting in Detroit heard the news on June 25.  The Detroit meeting began a process of considering revisions to the Party’s national Platform; including an amendment offered by the Georgia Green Party and the Green Party Black Caucus on which Ms. Alghanee had been consulted, to strengthen language supporting reparations already in the Green Party Platform (http://www.gp.org/platform/2004/socjustice.html#999024). Continue Reading