“People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.” ~James Baldwin, from Notes of a Native Son
The Sorro-Milanese kitchen table
Guiliana “Huli” Milanese and Bill Sorro, nurtured and incubated countless projects, movement-building ventures, electoral campaigns and individual freedom-fighters at their home in Bernal Heights, San Francisco. CPE is proud to have been one of those projects. We love and appreciate the Sorro-Milanese family and greatly miss our beloved Bill Sorro, who passed away in August 2007.
The Center for Political Education began with discussions around the Sorro-Milanese kitchen table, in 1997. A broad range of activists from the Bay Area left including established community activists, organizers, cultural workers, writers and educators engaged in a series of dialogues to analyze left movements and the future of movement-building in the U.S., particularly the Bay Area. The needs were clear: organizers did not have enough time or space nor adequate tools to analyze the political, economic and social trends impacting their work. These gaps in turn made it difficult for organizers and activists to develop strong, clear political strategies that would result in revolutionary transformation and fundamental shifts in power.
These dialogues confirmed the need for a center dedicated to building strong movements and a strong left through education, analysis, theory, dialogue, and activism. From these roots the CPE was born.
522 Valencia St.
The CPE is housed at 522 Valencia St in San Francisco. The building became a movement resource in the early 1970s, commonly associated with the Communist Party USA. The CPUSA published the national newspaper People’s World out of 522 Valencia. In 1994, a broad spectrum of left activists, most of whom were no longer in the CPUSA, took on the responsibility for the building and the associated assets which has been a home for progressive left organizations since. They formed the Kendra Alexander Foundation, in honor of Kendra Alexander, long-time organizer and agitator who passed away in May 1993, to oversee this invaluable movement resource.
518 Valencia the Eric Quezada Center for Culture & Politics
518 Valencia is named for beloved Mission dweller, CPE collective member, and Guatemalan activist Eric Quezada, who lost his battle with cancer in 2011. The Eric Quezada Center is a community event space staking out a radical refuge in the rapidly gentrifying Mission neighborhood.