Listener Candidate Statement

 

Ray Laforest (convener, WBAI Committee of Inclusion; also elected member of Pacifica National Board; labor and Haitian community organizer)

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Ray Laforest

I have been a fighter for social justice practically all my life. I was born in Haiti, and at age 13 joined an underground organization against the “Papa Doc” dictatorship. In 1968, I was forced to flee to the U.S.

I’m proudly running with the WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign (www.justiceunity.org), a progressive coalition whose candidates have a proven record of activism in the very communities that define Pacifica’s mission. We are acutely aware of WBAI’s importance as an educating and organizing tool, particularly in this time of imperialist war and heightening repression.

I have been on the WBAI Local Board since 2000 (when it was an advisory board) and on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) since 2001 (when it was an interim board on which I helped forge the present bylaws). I was elected to the Local Station Board in 2003 and the PNB in 2004.

I have been part of the leadership of the most progressive Haitian organizations in the Diaspora, such as the Haitian Coalition for Justice. I am currently active with the Haitian/Dominican Action Group and have long supported liberation struggles from Cuba to Central America to Southern Africa. I was a member of the National Coordinating Committee for Mumia Abu-Jamal. I am a longtime labor organizer, currently a staff organizer with AFSCME District Council 1707.

Even before the 2000 “Christmas Coup” at WBAI, I was involved with the struggle to reclaim Pacifica from the mainstream usurpers, including active work with Concerned Friends of WBAI.

I am the convener of the National Board’s Committee of Inclusion at WBAI. We’ve recruited a broad mix of members and will now begin identifying underserved communities and advocating their proper representation in programming and staffing. I also chaired the national coordinating body for inclusion until it was abolished this year. I worked with colleagues to obtain anti-racism training for the PNB and mandate it for all five stations. I also joined others to fight for a much-needed committee to review allegations of racism and sexism by board members.

I am also on the PNB’s Affiliates Committee, dedicated to encouraging more community radio stations to become Pacifica affiliates. I’ve been a member of the PNB’s Coordinating Committee for the past two years.

On our LSB, Justice and Unity board members have blocked irresponsible budget cuts, raised thousands of dollars for the station, and defended the rights of WBAI workers against other board members’ attacks. If re-elected, I will work to realize these initiatives:

- A capital campaign to acquire a permanent home for WBAI
- A Pacifica record label to raise funds and promote progressive artists
- Multi-channel expansion of WBAI to allow increased air time for various communities and rebroadcast of popular shows
- Ban on private funding that unduly influences LSB elections

I ask that you vote for me and my colleagues in this precise order to maximize the impact of your vote:

1. Fr. Lawrence Lucas
2. Nia Bediako
3. Berta Silva
4. Ray Laforest
5. Marianela Tricoche
6. Bernadette Ellorin
7. Sam Spady
8. Samia Halaby
9. Imani Henry
10. Tibby Brooks

Contact: ray@justiceunity.org