As an activist in the student movement against the Vietnam War and a supporter of Black liberation, Jon Melrod embraced the ideology that the working class held the power to transform society. He left the campus for the factory in 1972. For 13 years he immersed himself in the struggles of Milwaukee’s working class. He organized a militant rank-and-file caucus and rose to a top leadership position in UAW Local 72. After a mass workforce cutback imposed by AMC’s joint-venture partner Renault, he left to attend Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1985. He earned a JD and opened a law firm in San Francisco that successfully represented hundreds of political refugees. Since his 2019 marriage to Filipina actress and human rights activist Maria Isabel Lopez, Jon has engaged with the movement to defend the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.