Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

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Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

"Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists"

In 1992, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America members published a six-page leaflet, "Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists", welcoming progressives into membership. It features comments by United Steelworkers leader Ed Sadlowski; Dr. Ron Sable, the Illinois chair of the Physicians for a National Health Plan; Vicki Starr, who appeared in the film Union Maids; political scientist Jane Mansbridge;and theologians Rosemary Reuther and Michael Eric Dyson.[1]

NAFTA debate

On March 12 1993 the West Suburban branch of Chicago DSA held a major forum and debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Speakers included Carole Travis of the UAW, Marvin Golden of Greenpeace, philosophy professor Dennis Temple, and a staff member from the office of Representative Harris Falwell, a Republican.[2]

Save Our Security Illinois Coalition

In 2005, left opposition to Social Security privatization was organized in Illinois around the Save Our Security Illinois Coalition, which included Chicago Democratic Socialists of America. The Coalition’s first action in Illinois was a 90-person picket line outside the downtown Chicago offices of the Charles Schwab brokerage, a major advocate of privatization. A town hall meeting, with an overflow crowd of 400, on February 28 at Loyola University’s Water Tower campus featured Senators Richard Durbin and Barack Obama and Representative Jan Schakowsky. There was also a major rally in April.[3]

Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner

1990

Arthur Loevy, Secretary/treasurer of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, was honored at Chicago DSA's 32nd Annual Debs-Thomas- Harrington Dinner May 4, 1990, at the Midland Hotel.

Featured speaker was Cecil Roberts, vice president of the United Mine Workers, who talked on "Victory Over Pittston: Lessons and Strategies for Labor and the Progressive Movement in the 90s.".[4]

1991

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America's annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner was held on Saturday, May 11 at the Congress hotel. It honored labor stalwarts Steve Culen, Executive Director of Council 31, AFSCME, and Kathy Devine, Labor editor and Co-Coordinator of the Illinois Labor Network Against Apartheid.

Demma Strainville, Chair of the Ontario New Democratic Party Parliament Caucus spoke at the dinner.[5]

2002

The 44th Annual Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner, was held May 10, 2002, in Chicago. MC was Reverend Dr. Calvin Morris.

Carl Shier presented the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner Award to labor attorney Barbara Hillman

Roberta Lynch presented the Debs - Thomas - Harrington Award to Tom Balanoff of the SEIU Building Services Division.

Professor Douglass Cassel gave the 44th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Address.[6]

2008

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America held their 50th Annual Debs-Thomas-Harrington dinner, honoring Les Orear, founding member of and President Emeritus of the Illinois Labor History Society; Laurie Burgess, a labor lawyer with a special focus on workers’ centers; and Dr. Marge Cohen, AIDS activist and DSA comrade. [7]

2009

Chicago DSA held its 51st annual Eugene V. Debs- Norman Thomas-Michael Harrington Dinner on May 1st, honoring historian, activist, and DSA member Timuel Black and the executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Jane Ramsey. The featured speaker was the Reverend C.J. Hawking.[8]

2010

The 2010 Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner gathered together people representing Chicago’s legal, labor, liberal, and left communities to honor the People’s Law Office and the United Electrical Workers’ Western Regional President Carl Rosen, with author William Greider as featured speaker and Kim Bobo as master of ceremonies.[9]

Flint Taylor accepted the award to the People's Law Office from GOPDSA Co-Chair Tom Broderick. Taylor went on to recognize some of the people, present and not, who helped found the law collective and helped make it one of the major resources in defense of civil liberties in Chicago.

Carl Rosen accepted the Debs Thomas Harrington award from Chicago DSA Co-Chair Ron Baiman. ed make it one of the major resources in defense of civil liberties in Chicago.

The theme of this year's Dinner was "Bring America Home!" This was a deliberate variation on the title of William Greider's latest book, Come Home America, though it works very well as a demand the left should be making more vociferously of the Obama Administration. [10]

2011

The 53rd Debs Thomas Harrington Dinner was held at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on Friday the 13th of May, 2011.

William McNary of Citizen Action/Illinois was Master of Ceremonies.

Sandra Shimon, a Greater Oak Park DSA member and an Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty board member, presented the Dinner award to ICADP's Jeremy Schroeder. In accepting the award, Schroeder made reference to the politics and values represented by Eugene V. Debs. Despite the victory in abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, the work of Illinois Abolitionists is not over. Not only is there the Federal death penalty, but proponents of the death penalty in Illinois are already attempting to bring it back.

Chicago DSA co-chair Ron Baiman presented the Dinner award to AFSCME's John Cameron. In accepting the award, Cameron noted that while both public and private employees may be represented in the workplace by a union, public employees, as voters, have some say in the meaning of their work, and this is the essence of socialism.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky seized the time and the podium to second the Dinner's endorsement of Cameron's work. Despite now being in the minority in Congress, Schakowsky noted in passing, she was extremely optimistic as the conservatives in Congress have seriously over-reached themselves.

Featured speaker was Ralph Martire, the Executive Director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Martire, who began his career as a corporate lawyer. "Mergers and acquisitions," he sighed. But Martire wielded statistics with passion and clarity to reveal the intersection of tax policy, education, class, and racism.

The Dinner closed with the singing of "Solidarity Forever," this time led by Christine Steyer, a singer who graciously donated her talents.[11]

2013

The 2013 55th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner was held on May 3 at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza's Wolf Point ballroom.

Bill Barclay presented the award to the Chicago Teachers Union. And Jesse Sharkey provided a realistic assessment of the balance of power and the tasks ahead for the Chicago Teachers Union.

Peg Strobel included in her introduction of Keith Kelleher a much belated (from 2007) greeting from Barack Obama. It was revealed that Kelleher's first date with his wife was to a speech by Michael Harrington at Wayne State University.

Ron Baiman conspired with friends like Heather Booth to conduct a small William McNary roast. McNary emerged largely unsinged to warmly defend the Affordable Care Act as game changing legislation.

Amy Dean brought her own humor to the table.

A sincere gramercy to Rev. C.J. Hawking, who endured weather and traffic all the way from DC to be our Master of Ceremonies that evening. [12]

References

  1. Dem. Left, Jan./Feb. 1993. page 9
  2. Democratic Left March/April 1993, page 12
  3. Democratic Left • Spring 2005, pages 14,15
  4. DEMOCRATIC: LEFT MAY-JUNE 1990, page 8
  5. Dem. Left March./April 1991
  6. Chicago DSA website, 44th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner
  7. Democratic Left, Fall 2008
  8. Democratic Left, Summer 2009
  9. Democratic Left Fall 2010
  10. http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng130.html, New Ground 130, May/June 2010
  11. 2011 debs dinner
  12. [http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2013/index.html, 55th Annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner, New Ground 148