Renewing Our Vows to Fight for Equality

Shane Murphy Goldsmith (left), her wife Monica Avina Granados, and their sons.

Shane Murphy Goldsmith (left), her wife Monica Avina Granados, and their sons.

Today, Liberty Hill Foundation’s President and CEO, Shane Murphy Goldsmith, spoke at a press conference called by Mayor Eric Garcetti to celebrate and comment on the Supreme Court decision handed down today in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide. Shane participated as one half of a married couple. In June 17, 2008, then acting Mayor Garcetti made Shane and her wife Monica the first gay couple to get married in the city of Los Angeles. Here is an excerpt from her remarks, which she began by holding up the photo above. 

This is my family. These are the people I love more than anything in the world.

My wife, Monica Avina Granados. My children, Jude Santiago Avina Goldsmith and Oliver Miguel Avina Goldsmith. If you can’t see it from where you’re sitting it’s on my Facebook page.

We were married June 17, 2008. Here at City Hall. Our anniversary was nine days ago.  I love my wife. Thank you,  Mr. Mayor, for marrying us that day.

Some of you may be thinking “oh no big deal we’re in California.” Let me tell you.#LoveWins @2

Monica and I were married here in June, 2008. We’d actually gotten married two years earlier, but of course, our marriage was all love and no law. Our marriage had no legal standing. And four months after our legal marriage by the Mayor, we were in legal limbo again when Prop 8 passed.

So it’s hard to express how good it feels to finally stand on solid legal ground so that Monica and I can raise our two boys in a stable, loving home that has the sanction of the us supreme court and the us constitution.

The Supreme Court released a decision this morning that we celebrate. But millions of gay and lesbian individuals have, for decades,  taken important action to make this possible.

I want to call out their courage. Their visibility. Their organizing. Their lawsuits. Their love.

Our victory for lesbian and gay equality is about love, about letting  everyone express their love.

Rather than today’s court decision representing the end of our advocacy, let’s make it a point of renewal. Our movement is not just about winning the protections of marriage for same-sex couples, it’s also about winning equal rights for transgender people, for LGBTQ immigrants, for young people who are questioning their identity– for all of us who struggle in the face of gender and racial discrimination.

This is a time for us to stand with others. Let’s shower people in this country who still yearn for acceptance and justice, let’s shower them with our love and make this great country a country of love and justice.


Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition Advocacy Scores Major Victory

By Crystal Shaw


Jerry (GSA), Malik (SJLI), and Michael (Strategy Center) presented BSS Coalition LCFF priorities around school climate to Board Member McKenna.

The Brothers, Sons, Selves CoalitionLiberty Hill Foundation’s Common Agenda initiative focusing on young men and boys of color and created in strategic partnership with The California Endowment—had very specific goals for the new campaign at the start of the 2014-15 school year.   The members were determined to get more funding for Restorative Justice practices on school campuses and to advocate that no supplemental or concentration of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars be spent on school police.  They didn’t want the local funds to continue to contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

Yesterday was a huge win for the coalition.  The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) met those demands with a vote ratifying the 2015-16 budget. The school police budget is no longer supported by LCFF dollars and the District has increased investment in Restorative Justice to $7.2 million from $4.2 million (up $3 million). These victories are particularly important because LCFF dollars are intended to support low income, foster and English-learning youth and this budget better reflects the resources needed for L.A.’s highest needs students.

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Want to be a Trans Ally? Watch This

By Crystal Shaw, Contributing Editor

Just in time for Trans Pride L.A., Liberty Hill Foundation has partnered with Gender Justice LA in an effort to uplift and acknowledge the lives of all Trans people, and honor the ones we’ve lost along the way in the fight for acceptance and equality.

“How to be a Trans Ally” is a video written and performed by Evolve Benton aka Emotions the Poet.  If you’ve found yourself wondering how you could be a valuable ally to Trans people, Emotions the Poet offers context and straightforward ways to be part of the solution.

And check out these links “Matt Kailey’s Tranifesto,” “Op-ed: 6 Ways to Not Be a Terrible Trans Ally” and “Common Missteps of Trans Allies” for more info on being a Trans ally.

Trans Pride L.A. is a two day event celebrating the vibrancy and uniqueness of Los Angeles’ trans and genderqueer community. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center and takes place on Friday night, June 19 and Saturday, June 20. 

Gender Justice L.A. is one of more than 50 grassroots social justice organizations supported by Liberty Hill. These groups work lasting policy changes to advance economic, racial, LGBTQ and environmental justice.

Frontlines to Headlines May/June 2015



minwageL.A.’s minimum wage increase to $15 per hour by 2020 was big news this past month, thanks in part to the hard work of several Liberty Hill organizing partners. See Refinery 29 for an article that cites figures gathered by the Garment Worker Center (GWC) and Restaurant Opportunities Center-LA (ROC-LA). The Los Angeles Daily News quoted Giselle Mata of Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) calling for an earlier implementation date for the wage hike. ACCE members were also quoted in an article about how the new law will apply to workers who spend only part of their day within City limits. Read it in the L.A. Times.

KPCC reported on a related story. SB 588, a bill recently passed by the California State Senate, aims to strengthen protections against wage theft and help workers collect wages they are owed. The article quotes Alexandra Suh of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) on how difficult it is for victims of wage theft to reclaim their stolen earnings.
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Pomona Workers Lobby Successfully for Passage of Senate Wage Theft Bill

By Crystal Shaw, Contributing Editor

UPDATE, JUNE 9, 2015:  “I’m here to demand that the employer who hired us pay us. I already worked and completed the job but the employer took all the money including my pay. The employer did not consider the fact that I have rent, bills to pay or have a family to sustain. This abuse has to stop.”

Those were the courageous words spoken by Tomas C. Gonzalez, a day laborer and member of the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, a Liberty Hill grantee, during a day of lobbying to successfully pass the Wage Theft Prevention Act, SB588.  It was Tomas’ hard work along with many others that got the bill cleared through the California Senate and will now provide stronger mechanisms for enforcement of wage theft claims.  SB588 now moves to State Assembly.

Interview with Eddie Gonzalez

“Please help us help ourselves.”

That one line, taken from a letter of support for the Wage Theft Prevention Act, California State Senate Bill 588, written by one of the many groups fighting passage speaks volumes. Liberty Hill Foundation also supports SB588—ending wage theft is one of the three goals of our Push for Power— and good news came this week when the bill did indeed pass the Senate 24-12!


Members of The Los Angeles Coalition Against Wage Theft headed to Sacramento for a day of lobbying for SB588











The purpose of the Wage Theft Prevention Act according to its author, Senator Kevin de León, is just this: The basic promise of California’s labor laws—a fair day’s pay for an honest day’s work —is not being kept, despite the fact that we have good laws on the books. The Wage Theft Prevention law goes after the violators who are responsible for millions of dollars of wage theft violations each year and holds individuals responsible and accountable. The bill now begins to make its way through the State Assembly. This couldn’t have happened without the faithful and dedicated work of grassroots worker organizations including the Pomona Economic Opportunities Center (PEOC), whose members, many of them day laborers, traveled to Sacramento on Monday, June 1 for a day of lobbying just before the bill was voted on.

11_WMLI_pose_ind_E. Gonzalez

PEOC Organizer, Eddie Gonzalez

We spoke with Eddie Gonzalez, a PEOC Organizer, who traveled with two workers who were victims of wage theft themselves and went to tell their stories about how they were affected by this dirty practice. You hear a lot about how wage theft affects restaurant workers and car wash workers, but Eddie details why this bill is such an important piece of legislation in the fight against wage theft for day laborers, and what a day of lobbying really looks like. (For details on the bill’s provisions, read this background sheet.)

Who’s doing the groundwork on this bill with PEOC?

We’re part of a coalition called The Los Angeles Coalition Against Wage Theft with organizations like Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), and at this point too we have the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) who’s involved. We really do see this bill going through, although it’s not going to alleviate all the suffering but at least it will be one important step for the social justice movement.

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Power to the People: These Grassroots Orgs Received Liberty Hill’s Rapid Response Fund Grants

By Joe Rihn


From Ferguson to New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles, police violence is claiming the lives of unarmed Black men at an alarming rate.  As communities cry out for justice, mass movements like #BlackLivesMatter, are forming and the fight for racial equality is gaining momentum.  Though impossible to predict, it is times like these when community organizers on the frontlines of change need resources the most.  That’s why Liberty Hill Foundation established the Rapid Response Fund for Racial Justice.

Twelve organizations from Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and the Central Valley were chosen to receive year-long grants of up to $10,000 to support the urgent work of pushing back against the criminalization of communities of color, fighting to reform the criminal justice system, and uplifting Black lives.  Liberty Hill’s role included administering the Southern California funding pool, and the fund also received support from The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, the Rosenberg Foundation, and the Sierra Health Foundation.  Liberty Hill began receiving contributions during its annual Uplifting Change event, which supports African American philanthropy in L.A.  The fund has since brought in $150,000 from foundations and $20,000 from individual donors.

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Building Power for Grassroots Organizing through LA County Commissions

By Crystal Shaw

LH-Comm-Trng-Laurie Jones Neighbors-2015-0028

Laurie Jones Neighbors


On a sunny April morning, I joined more than 62 grassroots leaders, organizers and influencers from across L.A.’s diverse communities on the beautiful grounds of the LA84 Foundation in the Historic Adams District. We were there for Liberty Hill’s Wally Marks Leadership Institute For Change training on L.A. County commissions.  I attended the training session with a level of excitement to learn about an aspect of government I only had limited knowledge of.  I had no idea I would gain information that could impact my own community.

Commissions? Does the word bring to mind a picture of a line of authority-figure types sitting like judges through some boring meeting? What could commissions have to do with Liberty Hill’s focus on supporting leaders in the movement for social justice?

Just this: Power.

If you’ve ever wanted to do something to effect positive change, becoming an advocate-commissioner on one of L.A. County’s almost 200 commissions or boards is one of the most strategic ways available to get your voice heard and bring grassroots community perspective to the table on important issues. The whole point of these commissions is to get the public involved in County-related issues and to advise and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.

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Liberty Hill President and CEO Shane Goldsmith


Liberty Hill President and CEO Shane Goldmith, who also sits on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, opened the program by pointing out that “Liberty Hill exists to build power for people who are left out of the power structure every single day.  And we do that by making sure that government is accountable to everyday Angelenos, especially people who are excluded from the decisions that affect low income people, people of color, LGBTQ people, women.”

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Frontlines to Headlines Spring 2015










When Section 8 residents of color in the Antelope Valley faced widespread discrimination and harassment by law enforcement, Liberty Hill made a rapid response grant to The Community Action League to bring community members together to push for justice. Residents took legal action and now the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has agreed on a settlement that will curb discriminatory practices and grant monetary compensation to the victims. See the L.A. Times for recent developments, and hear from the families whose rights were violated in a video “How Liberty Hill changed Antelope Valley” created by a Community Action League leader to thank Liberty Hill for its support.









Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) helped organize a rally in downtown L.A. seeking justice for the hundreds of people killed by Los Angeles police since 2000. Demonstrators carried cardboard coffins decorated with the names of victims of police violence. Check NBC Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Daily News, and Annenberg TV News for the story.

Los Angeles Community Action Network (L.A. CAN) has frequently been cited in news stories on policing. The most significant mention was L.A. CAN founder Pete White’s comments in a far-ranging Harper’s Magazine analysis of “broken windows” policing and how police departments have used technology to become increasingly militarized. Other mentions were in an L.A. Times story after the police-shooting death of Skid Row resident Charley Leundeu Keunang, describing L.A. CAN founder Pete White’s calls for an independent investigation. Becky Dennison was quoted in coverage by the L.A. Times, Raw Story and others, of a new report finding that homelessness in L.A. has increased despite annual expenditure of more than $100 million by the City on homelessness, most of which was spent on policing.

According to NBC News, Khmer Girls in Action (KGA) was among the Asian American groups that signed a national open letter calling for justice for Akai Gurley, an unarmed African American man who was killed by the NYPD in 2014. A KPCC report about Long Beach Cambodian Americans reflecting on the events of the Khmer Rouge quoted KGA executive director, Lien Cheun on how trauma can affect multiple generations.
L.A. Voice, Community Coalition, and All of Us or None were among the groups that sponsored a town hall meeting to discuss implementation of Prop 47, which downgrades certain nonviolent low level felonies to misdemeanors and has resulted in thousands of prison releases and potential changes to individual criminal records. Check Witness L.A. for the story and see coverage from New American Media that also mentions L.A. Voice.










Activists held a May Day rally in West Hollywood that emphasized the intersection between immigration and LGBTQ issues. Frontiers Media covered the story with quotes from Yordy Cancino of GSA Network and Eileen Ma of API-Equality L.A.



On May Day people took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles for marches that addressed labor issues as well as immigration and police violence in communities of color. Several news sources covering the demonstrations quoted activists from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA). See The Guardian, CBS Los Angeles, EGP News, the Los Angeles Daily News,,, and Gulf Live for more.







A Los Angeles Daily News article about how a minimum wage increase will impact undocumented workers quoted Jacqueline Mejia of CHIRLA, while street vendors held a rally outside the LAPD’s headquarters to protest harassment by law enforcement and call for citywide legalization of their trade. Xiomara Corpeño of CHIRLA spoke out in support, as reported by the Daily News, EGP News and others.

Quoting Joseph Villela of CHIRLA, Fox Latino reported on California lawmakers presenting a series of bills that would increase rights and protections for undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, on the national front, CHIRLA is facilitating a series of meetings between members of Congress and families with mixed immigration statuses, in order to draw attention to the struggles these families face. The Press Enterprise has the story.








The debate continued with CBS Los Angeles noting CHIRLA’s support of California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s statement that undocumented immigrants are not criminals and Daily Kos and Buzz Feed reports of Angelica Salas of CHIRLA’s calls for statements from candidate Hilary Clinton on immigration, and prompt action on the issue.

In a round-up of immigration-issue news: Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) and Pilipino Worker Center (PWC) reach out to Asian American immigrants who qualify for DACA, encouraging them to enroll. Asian Journal has the story. Orange County Weekly reports that Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) helped organize a concert and demonstration outside the Santa Ana City Jail to protest the pending deportation of Omara Gomez-Aviles. And the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin covered a Pomona Economic Opportunity Center (PEOC) event celebrating the success of undocumented immigrants who earned their drivers licenses under the new law AB 60.

A group of women held a fifteen day fast outside City Hall to support a higher minimum wage, including Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) member, Martha Sanchez. Think Progress quoted Sanchez on how hunger is an all too common experience among low wage workers. Check NBC News for more.


The L.A. Times noted CLEAN Carwash Campaign’s opposition in an article about community resistance to a proposed new carwash in Highland Park, across the street from a unionized carwash.

More and more tenants are being evicted from rent-controlled apartments under the Ellis Act, which allows landlords to take their properties off the rental market provided they meet certain qualifications. KPCC’s coverage quotes from Coalition for Economic Survival (CES) executive director, Larry Gross. A Daily Breeze article on activists working to lower parking ticket fines talked to Larry Gross about disparities in how street sweeping tickets affect neighborhoods, and an NBC Los Angeles piece on how Southern California rents continue to climb quoted him as well.

Members of the Los Angeles Black Worker Center (LABWC) demonstrated at a downtown L.A. construction site to call for greater employment opportunities for Black workers. My News L.A. and Westside Today were among outlets covering the story. Meanwhile, according to Press TV, City officials have acknowledged a LABWC study which found widespread discrimination against Black workers in construction site hiring practices. Also see the Los Angeles Daily News for a piece by LABWC founder, Lola Smallwood Cuevas, on the relationship between racial justice and economic justice.

People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER) appeared in an L.A. Times article about vacation rental websites such as Airbnb, which POWER and other community groups criticized for removing rentals from the market.

California will now observe Larry Itliong Day on October 25 to honor the Filipino American labor leader. has the story, and mentions the Pilipino Worker Center (PWC)’s affordable housing development, also named for Larry Itliong.

KPFK’s Uprising Radio and KPCC’s Air Talk both hosted members of Restaurant Opportunities Center Los Angeles (ROC-LA) to discuss the importance of including tipped workers in a minimum wage increase.









The Long Beach Post published an update on efforts by Housing Long Beach (HLB) to establish a Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP) in Long Beach, which would allow the City to hold rent from delinquent landlords until units are brought up to code. HLB executive director, Kerry Gallagher, also penned a piece on the importance of affordable housing for the Grunion Gazette.













Eric Mann, director of the Labor Community Strategy Center (LCSC) took time during his Voices from the Frontlines show on KPFK to deliver a tribute to Michele Prichard, one of 2015’s Upton Sinclair Dinner honorees.

See Good Magazine for ideas on organizing community cleanups from Yvette Lopez-Ledesma of Clean Up Green Up organizing partner, Pacoima Beautiful.

A Streets Blog L.A. article about the contested 710 Freeway extension and other related construction projects quoted Mark Lopez of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ).







A Think Progress article about an oil refinery explosion in Torrance last February quoted Julia May of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), who called for a more detailed investigation into the danger of the ash given off by the blast that coated the surrounding area.

Following the closure of the contaminated Exide plant in Vernon members of EYCEJ, CBE and others celebrated at a community meeting. However, activists from the two organizations are demanding that Exide face repercussions for decades of polluting surrounding communities. EGP News and Streets Blog L.A. have the story.








The L.A. Times covered a recent protest against an oil drilling site in a residential neighborhood near USC, where residents are concerned about noise, noxious odors, and dangerous chemicals. The story includes a quote from Richard Parks of Fund for Environmental Health and Safety grantee, Redeemer Community Partnership.


Relive These Incredible Upton Sinclair Award 2015 Moments

The 33rd Upton Sinclair Dinner was one for the books.  Honorees and program participants alike delivered poignant speeches that were both motivational and moving.  Relive those moments again – or experience them for the first time as you watch Upton Sinclair Award Honoree and Erika Alvarez speak to a room of visionaries, rabble rousers and activists .




A Soundtrack for Social Justice, as Heard at Liberty Hill’s Upton Sinclair Dinner

The All of Me Tour

At the 33rd annual Upton Sinclair Dinner, Liberty Hill Foundation celebrated the new generation taking up the struggle for social justice.  As young leaders backed by Liberty Hill are pushing for restorative justice in schools, fighting for a cleaner environment and stopping families from being split apart by deportation, musicians from all genres are proving that protest music is alive and well.  Here you will find the Upton Sinclair Dinner soundtrack, which includes social justice songs from local artists, national chart-toppers and everyone in between.

While some of these songs reference political music from the ’60s and ’70s, others are rooted firmly in the sounds of today.  There are topical responses to injustices in Ferguson, Los Angeles and elsewhere, as well as songs that meditate on the broader concepts of solidarity and movement building.  In Oscar winner John Legend’s case, the fight for justice goes beyond music.  The singer campaigned to pass Proposition 47 in California, and recently launched a new campaign called “Free America,” which will target mass incarceration nationwide.

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