My name is Roland Sheppard, I am a retired Business Representative of Painters Local #4 in San Francisco. I have been a life long social activist and socialist. Prior to my being elected as a union official in 1994, I worked for 31 years as a house painter.
I was in the words of Robert Tressell, a Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, a phrase that Tressell used, in his book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, to explain the exploitation of workers, under capitalism, who willingly sell their labor and donate the surplus value, which their labor produces, to the boss.1
I have led a unique life. I am one, of the few people remaining, who was at the Audubon Ballroom when Malcolm X was assassinated.
House painting was my vocation, but working for a better world has been my lifelong avocation. I became especially interested in the environment when I was diagnosed with cancer due to my work environment as a painter.
I learned how to write essays, when I first got a computer, in 1998. Using the Internet and my word processor, I was able to put together all the medical legal arguments on my breakthrough workers’ compensation case in California, proving that my work environment, as a painter, had caused my cancer. During the course of the five-year struggle, I won a $300,000 settlement of my court case and, incidentally, I learned how to write.
In my retirement, I am writing about my life experiences as a socialist, as a participant in the Black Liberation Movement, the Union Movement, and almost all social movements.
My, essays are based upon my involvement in the struggle for workers democracy and freedom for all humanity. It is my hope that these essays, which I regularly update, when I discover more facts, will help future generations of Freedom Fighters.