Tonight is Halloween, and as I open my door to neighborhood children full of joy and excitement, I reflect on the origins of this autumn holiday and what it means to honor those who have died.

For more than 4,000 years the pre-Celts and Celts of Europe celebrated of the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter with Samhain (sow-in), which later became All-hallows-eve or Halloween.

On this night our Celtic ancestors invited home their family and clan ancestors roaming nearby fields and roads. They also feared the harmful souls with scores to settle. People wore masks and ghostly gear to fool the spirits and to pass as one of them.

Like in other celebrations around the world, food and treats were prepared for the living and the dead. In Mexico the 3,000-year-old pre-conquest festivities honoring Mictecacihatl, the Lady of the Dead, continues in the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

Tonight my thoughts are a mix of children’s joy and adults’ sadness. My mind and heart go out to the 50,000 Native American Californians killed under Spanish rule before 1834; the 140,000 Native American Californians killed after the U.S. conquest of California, the 110,000 Californians killed by others, mostly by gun violence, during my lifetime; the 6,300 young Californians killed in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan; and the 22,000 Californians who died of opioid overdoses since 1999. I also grieve for all the Californians who died because of homelessness, or because they lacked medical insurance, or were killed by police, or were burned alive by fires sparked by the negligence of a powerful utility company, and so on … and these are just the Californians!

Tonight I acknowledge the pain of all these past Californians and their families, and re-commit myself to give everything I have to work for a society where things are more just, healthier, and much happier. It won’t be easy, but a Better California is Possible!

I ask you to work with me: Get involved in your city, in your union, in your neighborhood. Celebrate life, honor your ancestors, remember those who we failed as a society, and connect with your friends and neighbors so we build a community where we do not fail anyone.

Be a volunteer in my campaign and/or help my campaign to reach out to many in California with the successes of the Richmond Progressive Alliance. This video gives you a flavor of the message I’m taking all over California: Organize locally for corporate-free political power!

Let’s celebrate this Halloween and many more to come by honoring those who have died with activism and resistance.