LaborFest kicks off 27th annual month-long programming

Online offerings address pandemic, focus on ‘building a new future’

LaborFest co-presents the first episode of the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s 2020 nine-part radio series, featuring, top row, from left, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Amos Glick, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Brian Rivera and Marie Cartier, and bottom, from left, Velina Brown, Andre Amarotico, Lizzie Calogero,Michael Gene Sullivan and Marissa Ellison. (Courtesy photo)

LaborFest, San Francisco’s 27th annual month-long series of talks, films and presentations inspired by local and international activists and history, is online this year, with the theme “Labor: Resist, Revolt, Building a New Future.”

Running July 1-31 with most programs free (donations are encouraged), the event opens with a timely group art show. “The Future Challenges Us Now,” curated by San Francisco artist David Duckworth, includes works by artists addressing “the nature and agency of work in a world rapidly transformed by pandemic and changing through political, societal and technological prerogatives.”

At 7 p.m. July 1, Duckworth speaks with artists Carol Denney and Marcia Poole and explores the online gallery, which features works by Denney, Poole & Louis Cuneo, Jessalyn Aaland, Philippe Barnoud, Michael Chomick, Clare Charles Cornell, Franck Duval, Robbin Légère Henderson, Roswitha Kandler, Doug Minkler, Herb Mintz, Jos Sances, elin o’Hara slavick and Gary Turchin.

On July 2, at 9 a.m., a Zoom event, “South Africa and COVID-19 and Class Struggle” features Martin Jansen, Workers World Media director in South Africa, reporting on and leading discussion on the pandemic in that country, where working-class people don’t have access to adequate health care.

On July 3, at 6 p.m., the 2005 documentary “Sir, No Sir — The GI Movement” by David Zeiger, about troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War opposing the war, screens, followed by a panel discussion on how racism in the military today and Donald Trump’s attempt to crush mass protests have lessons to working people and veterans.

“Sir, No Sir – The GI Movement,” a documentary about members of the U.S. military opposed to the Vietnam War, screens on July 3 in a LaborFest presentation. (Courtesy Displaced Films)

On July 4 at 7 p.m., “Police, Labor & Unions in America” includes comments by Bay Area and Seattle union leaders, who, in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police, have questioned whether police should be in unions.

Also on July 4, The San Francisco Mime Troupe, instead of presenting its signature outdoor musical political comedies in parks across California, kicks off “Tales of the Resistance,” a nine-part serial podcast, with its first show part of LaborFest programming.

The 25-minute radio comedies (in noir, science-fiction, horror and adventure) open with “The Mystery of the Missing Worker,” an episode from a detective series “Jade, for Hire!” set in a “nation in a race and class war with itself.”

With a cast including old-timers and newcomers Andre Amarotico, Velina Brown, Lizzie Calogero, Keiko Shimosato Carreiro, Marie Cartier, Marissa Ellison, Amos Glick, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Brian Rivera and Michael Gene Sullivan, shows are free on various outlets, but donations are suggested. Shows continue every two weeks on Saturdays, through Oct. 24. Visit for the schedule.

Other select LaborFest events include a look at the San Francisco General Strike of 1934 at 10 a.m. July 5 by historian Gifford Hartman, who offers a photographic chronology of how a two-month long waterfront strike along the West Coast burst into a four-day general strike that shut down commerce in San Francisco.

Two events examine the controversial 1936 Victor Arnoutoff murals at George Washington High School in The City, which show slavery and white settlers stepping on a Native American. At 5 p.m. July 8, writer Howard Pflanzer, who’s penning a play called“The Murals” about the issue, and Steve Zeltzer address concerns over artistic expression. And at 7 p.m. July 22, speakers analyze the history and struggle over the future of the murals in an event with Jack Heyman, Dewey Crumpler, Gray Brechin and Carol Denney focusing on labor issues.

At 2 p.m. July 18, “Angel Island: A History of Quarantine, Militarist Imperialism and Immigrant Exclusion” features activist, historian and Angel Island park worker James Dexter-Lee speaking on the colorful history of the California State Park, from Native Americans and their uses of the land to myriad racist governmental practices that continued for centuries.

For the full schedule and to register for live Zoom events, visit

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