Every time the Community Alliance asks for support from this community, you come through with the love and do-re-mi that keeps this newspaper humming. Not just printing every month but growing, expanding and moving in new directions.
The purpose of the fundraiser, of course, was to raise money for the newspaper, and we are pleased to announce it was a huge success. This was one of our most successful Fall Fundraisers ever. Executive Director Mike Rhodes said that more than “$11,000 was raised, which will keep us going in the right direction in 2024.”
At the fundraiser, Rhodes talked about the past, present and future of the newspaper. “We have gone from being a small photocopied newsletter in 1996 to a newspaper that is building a progressive movement and telling the story of those working for peace, social and economic justice.”
Rhodes believes the future of the paper will mean hiring younger journalists who will create a social media project that can deliver the news from a progressive perspective to a whole new generation.
“Even my own children get most of their news from social media platforms,” says Rhodes. “We need to reach young people where they are at and only young journalists are able to do that. That is our challenge, and with your support we will be a vibrant part of this community for many years to come.”
The other significant area of expansion for the newspaper is the Spanish-language section. With small regional newspapers collapsing all over the San Joaquin Valley, having content in Spanish is more important than ever. We are expanding our reach in rural areas where the need is greatest and will continue providing high-quality content for our monolingual Spanish-speaking audience.
Other notable developments with the paper are our ability to receive grants through the San Joaquin Valley Media Alliance, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We have already received multiple grants that have allowed us to grow and expand.
The Stop the Hate grant we received from the State Library system made possible the four Stop the Hate town halls we organized. Each event exceeded our expectations. The next event will be on Jan. 24.
Another project, also made possible by a grant, is “The Cycle of Exclusion in the San Joaquin Valley,” which will feature information about the incarceration of the Japanese in this region during World War II.
Our keynote speaker at the fundraiser was Robin McGehee, who gave a marvelous presentation. McGehee is the new City of Fresno LGBTQ+ liaison. She was instrumental, on a national level, in getting marriage equality laws passed.
McGehee told us how she came from Mississippi and ended up in Fresno. She was an important part of Meet in the Middle, an exciting organizing project that brought out 7,000 people to the steps of City Hall. McGehee said “at that time we were fighting against Alan Autry (the former mayor of Fresno), who was taking our City Hall and using it as a bully pulpit for Jim Franklin to speak out against our families.”
That demonstration at City Hall resulted in some dialogue with the powers that be about the issue of LGBTQ+ rights, but McGehee and Meet in the Middle organizers realized that a larger action was needed. They helped organize a march in Washington, D.C., with 250,000 people.
You can view McGehee’s entire presentation at our fundraiser at youtu.be/dAwJyspQiSg.
Retired Judge Dale Ikeda, our other primary speaker, said that more than “125,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were interned for approximately three years during World War II.” These people did not stand trial; they were forced to leave their homes and businesses and were put in concentration camps around the country. Two gathering locations were in Fresno: one at the Fairgrounds and the other in Pinedale.
“I think the topic is relevant today because of 9/11 and, more recently, former President Donald Trump has stated that his goal is to round up and intern hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are in the country without papers,” Ikeda said.
More details about events related to this civil liberties issue will be available soon.