2016 VPA Schedule

Look for the full schedule in mid April. The VPA will take place at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, 1720 Mechanicsville Turnpike, Richmond, VA, 23223.

Questions? (804)782-0222 or vpassembly@gmail.com

PROGRAM for the 2016 VPA

8 am:  Registration (continues all day)

9 am:  Opening of the 2016 Virginia People’s Assembly for Jobs, Peace & Justice

Welcoming remarks by the REV. RODNEY HUNTER, Pastor, Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church


MARGARET BRESLAU, Coalition for Justice (Blacksburg)

JACK BROOKS, Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

General orientation for the day


9:30 – 11:  1st Plenary Session: “WHO WE ARE & WHAT WE DO” – Each endorsing organization has an opportunity to explain what the group is, what it does and how it would like to network.


11:15 – 12:45 pm:  Workshops

(See list below)

1:00:  Lunch – Fried chicken & vegetarian options prepared by Wesley Memorial

2 – 3:30 pm: 2nd Plenary Session: “STANDING IN SOLIDARITY” – Panel discussion with representatives from various struggles and communities under attack.

Co-Chairs: ANA EDWARDS, Chair, Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project

REBECCA K.W. KEEL, Community Organizer with Southerners On New Ground (SONG); Member, Movement for Black Lives


“Islamophobia in Virginia” – NOORELHODA RAMADAN, Richmonder, Palestinian-American, employee of Henrico County School System, mother of four school-age children and a Muslim

“Immigrant Grassroots Organizing in Richmond: ICE Out of RVA Campaign & the intersection with other struggles” – CAROLINA VELEZ, Program Coordinator & Community Organizer, Wayside Center for Popular Education

“Issues Facing the Black Community Today” – ANA EDWARDS, Co-Founder, Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

“The Struggle for Transgender Rights in Virginia” – Statement by GAVIN GRIMM, trans teen whose court suit against the Gloucester County School Board “… could shape how schools across the country deal with the question of whether transgender teens have the right to use bathrooms in accordance with their gender identities.” (Washington Post)

“The Fight for $15 in Virginia” – PRISCELLA EVANS, a Wendy’s fast-food worker

“Dominion Resources & Our Environment” – TRAVIS L. WILLIAMS, Ph.D., Justice RVA

3:45 – 5:15 pm: Workshops

(See list below)

5:15 – 5:30: – Break

5:30 – 6:30 pm: 3rd Plenary Session: “HOW TO BUILD THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT IN AN ELECTION YEAR” – Moderated discussion with audience participation


WELUNA FINLEY, Nation of Gods & Earths, Richmond Chapter

PHIL WILAYTO, Editor, The Virginia Defender; Co-Founder, Virginia People’s Assembly

6:45 – 7:30 pm: Voting on resolutions. Wrap-up. Singing of “Solidarity Forever.”



(The exact schedule and room assignments will be posted closer to the conference.)


Electing Where Your $$$ Go: Having a say in the city budget

Sponsor: Rebecca K. W. Keel for City Council 2016

“An introduction to Participatory Budgeting, a method for creating a budget with public money, where project ideas and decision making come from the people instead of just elected officials. In the workshop we will practice what this can look like.”


Equality Under the Law for Transgender Individuals in RVA

Sponsor: TRANSgeneration 2016

“We will talk about the social injustices faced by transgender people in this state. Including, but not limited to, the ongoing fight to have legislation that specifically states that discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity is prohibited.”


Healthcare Matters

Sponsor: Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare

“Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare will bring literature and educational materials to educate consumers on healthcare coverage options healthcare issues, like Medicaid expansion/closing the coverage gap in Virginia. VCV also will share storytelling videos of those in that fall in the coverage gap. We will have staff available to identify and collect additional consumer stories. (Media release required.)”


How To Build A Struggle Committee

Sponsor: Richmond Struggle Committee Initiative

“This will be a presentation on building organization for the purpose of struggle in a specific site (such as a workplace, the school, in the neighborhood, etc) in order to build political power for poor and working class people to further their interests and aims against the capitalist, white supremacist system.”


Issues Affecting Richmond Homeless Communities

Sponsor: ASWAN: A Society Without A Name, For People Without A Home

A workshop about issues affecting Richmond homeless communities / navigating systems change and infrastructure fights as a grassroots organization.”


The Law: How it Pertains to You

Sponsor: International Liberation Council for All People

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so they say. So it’s time we learn what we need to learn to use it to our advantage. This workshop will teach you how to look up cases and use them whether you are the defendant or the plaintiff. This class will also discuss the blatant disrespect of the lower courts towards people who attempt to use the law to their advantage and what recourses we have when faced with that dilemma.”


US-Cuba Relations: Directly From Cuba!

Sponsor: African Awareness Association

“This workshop will give you a historical and current status of US-Cuba relations by a specialist on this subject area from Cuba. You also will be given an update on the current reality of life in Cuba from an African American medical student, who will be graduating from Latin American Medical School (ELAM) in the summer of 2017. Lee Robinson, who has just recently returned from Cuba, will present his report on this visit and will entertain questions and issues on this on-going relationship between the two nations.”


What is Washington Doing in Our Name to the People of the World? International issues & building the antiwar movement in Virginia

Sponsor: The Virginia Defender newspaper

“Speakers will address U.S. foreign policy in Africa, Cuba, Palestine and Europe, including Ukraine, as well as the special role of the CIA and the financial cost of war to those of us here at home. There also will be time to discuss building the antiwar movement here in Virginia.”

“The Cost of War to Our Communities Here at Home“ADRIA SCHARF, Director, Richmond Peace Education Center

“The Role of the CIA in Securing the Empire”RAY McGOVERN, Former CIA Analyst; Co-Founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

“The Palestinians: Who We Are & What We Want”ADEEB ABED, President, Arab American Association of Central Virginia *

“The Expanding U.S. Military Role in Africa”ANA EDWARDS, President, Virginia Friends of Mali *

“The U.S., Cuba & the Continuing Blockade”LEE ROBINSON, African Awareness Association

“NATO in Eastern Europe & the Crisis in Ukraine”PHIL WILAYTO, Member, Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

Youth Awareness “The Next Generation of Activism”

Sponsor: Urban Awareness Inc.

“A class built on the platform of different ways to engage the youth: which topics of discussion they relate to; and standards that help teach the youth about the political process.”


Ask Us About Islam

Sponsor: Noorelhoda Ramadan, Richmonder, Palestinian-American, mother of four school-age children and a Muslim

“Muslim teenagers discuss and answer questions about what it’s like to be Muslim in the United States in the midst of Islamophobia.”