Barack Obama - Affiliated Organizations

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This page details President of the United States, Barack Obama's involvement with a number of radical and controversial organizations.

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"Obama can be linked to Democratic Socialists of America"

Writing in the radical (and Democratic Socialists of America connected) Chicago magazine In These Times, in March 2008, Joel Bleifuss asserted;

In particular, Obama can be linked to the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the Democratic Party-oriented organization that is a member of the Socialist International

Democratic Socialists of America

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) is the largest socialist organization in the US. It is one of two official U.S. affiliates of the Socialist International. It was formed in 1982 from a merger of the Michael Harrington led Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and the smaller New American Movement.

DSA works inside the Democratic Party and has cross membership with the Communist Party USA, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Socialist Party USA and the Green Party USA.

DSA has close ties to the radical Institute for Policy Studies, ACORN, Jobs with Justice, Congressional Progressive Caucus and publications including Dissent, The Nation and The American Prospect.

Marxism

While not overtly so, Democratic Socialists of America is essentially a Marxist organization.

In an article in DSA's Democratic Left, Spring 2007, DSA National political Committee member David Green of Detroit wrote in support of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA)-or "card check".[1]

What distinguishes socialists from other progressives is the theory of surplus value. According to Marx, the secret of surplus value is that workers are a source of more value than they receive in wages. The capitalist is able to capture surplus value through his ownership of the means of production, his right to purchase labor as a commodity, his control over the production process, and his ownership of the final product. Surplus value is the measure of capital’s exploitation of labor

Green went on to write;

Our goal as socialists is to abolish private ownership of the means of production. Our immediate task is to limit the capitalist class’s prerogatives in the workplace...

Socialist Scholars Conferences

Bogdan Denitch

Barack Obama makes an apparent reference to the Socialist Scholars Conference in his 1995 autobiography "Dreams From My Father"[2].

Discussing his time studying political science at New York's Columbia University, in the early 80s, Obama reveals that he "went to socialist conferences at Cooper Union and African cultural fairs in Brooklyn.”

"Cooper Union" is the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a privately funded college in Downtown Manhattan.

For many years, from the early 1980s until 2004, Cooper Union was the usual venue of the annual Socialist Scholars Conference-almost certainly what Obama was referring to.

Socialist Scholars Conference-now known as Left Forum was for many years the largest socialist gathering in the USA, attracting up to 2,000 participants.

Socialist Scholars Conference was founded by a group of radicals from City University of New York led by sociology professor Bogdan Denitch, as well as chairing the Socialist Scholars Conferences since 1980, Denitch is an Honorary Chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and has served as DSA's representative to the Socialist International.

Since DSA's formation in 1982 its City University branch has sponsored and organized the Socialist Scholars Conference.

The bulk of SSC's organising committees were have been DSA members, as were many conference speakers.

Other speakers came from the Communist Party USA and its offshoot, the Committees of Correspondence, the International Socialists and Freedom Road Socialist Organization as well as independent Marxists, Maoists, Trotskyites, black radicals, gay activists and radical feminists.

Barack Obama wrote of "conferences" plural, indicating his attendance was not the result of accident or youthful curiosity.

First known link to Chicago DSA

Lou Pardo

Barack Obama's first known contact with Chicago Democratic Socialists of America occurred in 1992, shortly after he returned to Chicago, from his studies at Harvard.

Chicago City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, a long time DSA associate, told the 2008 Democratic Party convention of his first meeting with Barack Obama;

I first heard of Barack back in 1992. The year 1992 was a little like 2008. Then, as now, we needed to save the country from the misguided policies of a president named Bush. I was working with my old friend, Lou Pardo, a retired machinist, on an effort to register Latino voters in Chicago. One day, we were talking about how we could reach more voters and cover more ground, but we needed more resources. Lou told me we should go see Barack Obama, who was directing a voter-registration drive called Project Vote. So Lou met with Barack and, without missing a beat, Barack Obama helped us out. Barack Obama made sure that the thousands of Latinos in Chicago were registered to vote. He helped empower the Latino community and ensure that we were full participants in our democracy.

Lou Pardo was a confirmed member of Democratic Socialists of America

An article in Chicago DSA's New Ground November 1994 says[3];

Lou Pardo, a volunteer with Senator del Valle, DSA member and activist with the Midwest-Northeast Voter Registration Education Project, emphasized how important it was to support independent progressive democrats.

DSA forum

Barack Obama spoke at a Democratic Socialists of America organized forum at the University of Chicago in early 1996.[4]

Over three hundred people attended the first of two Town Meetings on Economic Insecurity on February 25 in Ida Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago. Entitled "Employment and Survival in Urban America", the meeting was sponsored by the UofC DSA Youth Section, Chicago DSA and University Democrats.

The panelists were Toni Preckwinkle, Alderman of Chicago's 4th Ward, Barack Obama, candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District, Professor William Julius Wilson, Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago, Professor Michael Dawson, University of Chicago and Professor Joseph Schwartz, Temple University and a member of DSA's National Political Committee[5].

Barack Obama observed that Martin Luther King's March on Washington in the 1960s wasn't simply about civil rights but "demanded jobs as well".
One of the themes that has emerged in Barack Obama's campaign is "what does it take to create productive communities", not just consumptive communities. It is an issue that joins some of the best instincts of the conservatives with the better instincts of the left."
Obama felt the state government has three constructive roles to play.
The first is "human capital development". By this he meant public education, welfare reform, and a "workforce preparation strategy". Public education requires equality in funding. It's not that "money is the only solution to public education's problems but it's a start toward a solution... A true welfare system would provide for medical care, child care and job training. While Barack Obama did not use this term, it sounded very much like the "social wage" approach used by many social democratic labor parties."
The state government "can also play a role in redistribution, the allocation of wages and jobs. As Barack Obama noted, when someone gets paid $10 million to eliminate 4,000 jobs, the voters in his district know this is an issue of power not economics. The government can use as tools labor law reform, public works and contracts."
Finally, Illinois "needs an industrial strategy. How do we create more jobs for everyone? Illinois has no strategy for encouraging high wage, high productivity jobs".

DSA endorsement

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America endorsements in the March 19th 1995 Primary Election went to Danny K. Davis, Patricia Martin, Willie Delgado and Barack Obama[6].

In Chicago DSA's New Ground, Danny Davis was described only as...[7].

...certainly not foreign to Chicago DSA. From the very beginning, he has always been willing to help: appearing as a speaker with Michael Harrington, serving as a Master of Ceremonies without peer at the annual Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner.

...not as the full fledged Democratic Socialists of America member he actually was.

Barack Obama was given an extensive profile that covered his work with Project Vote, Developing Communities Project and Annenberg Challenge Grant, his education, community activities, education and work for Judson Miner.

Barack Obama is running to gain the Democratic ballot line for Illinois Senate 13th District. The 13th District is Alice Palmer's old district, encompassing parts of Hyde Park and South Shore.
Mr. Obama graduated from Columbia University and promptly went into community organizing for the Developing Communities Project in Roseland and Altgeld Gardens on the far south side of Chicago. He went on to Harvard University, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated with a law degree. In 1992, he was Director of Illinois Project Vote, a voter registration campaign that made Carol Moseley Braun's election to the U.S. Senate much easier than it would have been. At present, he practices law in Judson Miner's law firm and is President of the board of the Annenberg Challenge Grant which is distributing some $50 million in grants to public school reform efforts.
What best characterizes Barack Obama is a quote from an article in Illinois Issues, a retrospective look at his experience as a community organizer while he was completing his degree at Harvard:
"... community organizations and organizers are hampered by their own dogmas about the style and substance of organizing. Most practice ... a 'consumer advocacy' approach, with a focus on wrestling services and resources from outside powers that be. Few are thinking of harnessing the internal productive capacities, both in terms of money and people, that already exist in communities." (Illinois issues, September, 1988)
Luckily, Mr. Obama does not have any opposition in the primary. His opponents have all dropped out or were ruled off the ballot. But if you would like to contribute to his campaign, make the check payable to Friends of Barack Obama, 2154 E. 71st, Chicago, IL 60649.

Saul Mendelson's funeral

Saul Mendelson

The Memorial Service for Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Saul Mendelson was held on Sunday, March 29, 1998, at the First Unitarian Church, Chicago[8].

The service was MC'd by a retired colleague, Bob Clark. Carl Shier of DSA, spoke first and was followed by Saul's friend Deborah Meier, "a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient who is now starting a new school in Boston". Amy Isaacs, National Director of the Americans for Democratic Action, spoke of what "Saul had meant on foreign affairs to the ADA".

Other speakers included Communist Party USA aligned Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, State SenatorBarack Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and "a good friend from New York", Myra Russell.

The concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley, a former Trotskyist with Saul Mendelson in the 1940s, who was then Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami Medical School.

Eulogies also came from Quinn Brisben, (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1976, 1992) and David McReynolds (Socialist Party USA presidential candidate 1980, 2000).

Both Brisben and McReynolds are also members of Democratic Socialists of America.

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

Founded in 1961 and still active, the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights is one of the Communist Party USA's most successful and enduring creations-playing a major role in the near elimination of police spying against radical organizations.

In the early years Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights' personnel were virtually, all proven members or sympathisers of the Communist Party USA. In later years, supporters of the New American Movement, Democratic Socialists of America and Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism were more prominent.

In the 1970s, prominent members of the organization included Quentin Young, Timuel Black and Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf.

All three went on to join Democratic Socialists of America. All three went on to become friends and supporters of Barack Obama.

Quentin Young

Quentin Young is a long time member of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America.

In 1995, State Senator Alice Palmer introduced her chosen successor, Barack Obama, at a gathering in the Hyde Park home of former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

I can remember being one of a small group of people who came to Bill Ayers’ house to learn that Alice Palmer was stepping down from the senate and running for Congress,” said Dr. Quentin Young, of the informal gathering at the home of Ayers and his wife, Dohrn. “[Palmer] identified [Obama] as her successor.” Barack Obama and Alice Palmer “were both there,” he said.

Quentin Young described Obama and Ayers as “friends[9].”

Healthcare influence

Quentin Young is a long time friend and supporter of Barack Obama[10]. He was Obama's personal physician for more than 20 years[11].

Quentin Young, perhaps the most well-known single-payer advocate in America. He was the Rev. Martin Luther King’s doctor when he lived in Chicago and a longtime friend and ally of Barack Obama.
Quentin Young's 80th birthday, 2003

In the 1990s Barack Obama and Quentin Young were both supporters of "single payer" health care..

As a state Senator, Obama and another leftist colleague and state representative Willie Delgado presented the The Health Care Justice Act to the Illinois House and Senate.

According to blog Thomas Paine's Corner[12];

Barack Obama is quite familiar with the concepts and the specific merits of single payer. Back in the late 1990s, when he was an Illinois State Senator representing a mostly black district on the south side of Chicago, he took pains to consistently identify himself publicly with his neighbor Dr. Quentin Young.
He signed on as co-sponsor of the Bernardin Amendment, named after Chicago's late Catholic Archbishop, who championed the public policy idea that medical care was a human right, not a commodity. At that time, when it was to his political advantage, Obama didn't mind at all being perceived as an advocate of single payer.

Quentin Young has suported Obama politically for since at least 1995[13].

"I knew him before he was political, I supported him when he ran for state Senate. When he was a state Senator he did say that he supported single payer. Now, he hedges. Now he says, if we were starting from scratch, he would support single payer.”
“Barack’s a smart man, He probably calculated the political cost for being for single payer – the shower of opposition from the big boys – the drug companies and the health insurance companies. And so, like the rest of them, he fashioned a hodge podge of a health insurance plan.”

From a March 2009 Democracy Now! interview with Amy Goodman[14];

AMY GOODMAN: You’ve been a longtime friend of Barack Obama.

DR. QUENTIN YOUNG: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: How has he changed over the years?

DR. QUENTIN YOUNG: Well, Barack Obama, as we know, was a community organizer, a very lofty calling, in my book, and he made the decision, when the opportunity came, that he could get more done politically, and he accepted the nomination for the seat in the State Senate. It’s not that long ago, really. It’s about a six, eight years ago.

Barack Obama, in those early days—influenced, I hope, by me and others—categorically said single payer was the best way, and he would inaugurate it if he could get the support, meaning majorities in both houses, which he’s got, and the presidency, which he’s got. And he said that on more than one occasion, and it represented the very high-grade intelligence we all know Barack has....

AMY GOODMAN: This brouhaha over the last week with the White House healthcare summit, 120 people, there were going to be no single-payer advocates. Congressman Conyers asked to go. At first, he was told no. He directly asked President Obama at a Congressional Black Caucus hearing. He asked to bring you and Marcia Angell—

DR. QUENTIN YOUNG: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. You weren’t allowed to go. Do you have President Obama’s ear anymore? You have been an ally of his for years, for decades.

DR. QUENTIN YOUNG: Well, it’s mixed. I think we’re friends, certainly. At this gala that you mentioned, which was embarrassing, he did send a very complimentary letter. And I appreciate that, but I’d much rather have him enact single payer, to tell the truth. And we did—it’s fair to say, after a good deal of protest, I think we were told there was a—phones rang off the hook. They did allow our national president, Dr. Oliver Fein, to attend with Dr. Conyers—Congressman Conyers. That’s fine, but we need many more people representative of the American people at large to get this thing through the Congress, and Baucus, notwithstanding, be overruled.

Timuel Black

Timuel Black

Timuel Black is an historian, activist and nonogenarian icon of the Chicago left. Black is a veteran of the Socialist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America. For several years he has also served on the Committees of Correspondence advisory board.

Timuel Black's relationship to Barack Obama stretches back until at least the early 1990s[15];

So it’s no surprise that in 1991, when a community organizer named Barack Obama returned to Chicago with a Harvard law degree, he sought advice from Black. Seventeen years later, on November 4, 2008, Black and his wife, Zenobia, watched the election coverage in their home with friends. “When we learned that he had made it, that there was no turning back, the house just went wild

In 1995 Timuel Black attempted to mediate a dispute between Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer and her chosen successor Barack Obama.

Alice Palmer had allegedly promised Obama her State Senate seat if she was successful in a run for the U.S. Congress.

She wasn't successful, but Obama refused to stand aside and went on to win the seat unopposed-after getting all his opponents (including Palmer) disqualified on voting technicalities.

"I liked Alice Palmer a lot. I thought she was a good public servant," Obama said. "It was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently."

His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists.

"There was friction about the decision he made," said City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus Timuel Black, who tried to negotiate with Obama on Palmer's behalf. "There were deep disagreements."

Despite the mess, Timuel Black became and remains an admirer of the ambitious young politician.

"My first impression was this was a very, very brilliant young man," Black says.

Black said Obama's biggest obstacle would not be from whites, but from blacks.

"The biggest thing he has to face is the accusations by some blacks that he is not black enough...He has to overcome that without being so black that he alienates potential white supporters."

Timuel Black addressed a largely black audience at the Woodson Regional Library auditorium on Feb. 11, 2007[16].

Speaking of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign he said;

Obama is the test of how deep racism is in this country...Barack is the recipient of the struggle of other generations...That means that you feel proud of your ancestors, your successes...(Obama), based on the opportunities that were opened to him by others, is in the position to prove to the world whether the United States of America is a true democracy, or is a continuing hypocrisy.

Timuel Black was involved in Obama's campaign committee during his successful 2004 U.S. Senate race.

In December 2008 Barack Obama sent a note to Timuel Black's 90th birthday celebrations, which read in part[17];

For forty years, he shaped our young men and women into those citizens. And though he may have retired from the teaching profession nearly two decades ago, he never stopped being a teacher. We are all his students in a classroom that never closes.

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf

Wolf.png

In 2000, Rabbi Wolf was named as a member of Democratic Socialists of America in the DSA publication Religious Socialism[18].

In April 2008 Rabbi Wolf sent a "Shalom" to Chicago DSA's 50th annual Eugene V. Debs - Norman Thomas -Michael Harrington Dinner[19].

The famous 1995 meeting In the home of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, that launched Obama's political career was apparently one of several functions designed to introduce Obama to the Hyde Park set[20].

Around this time, Obama started to attend a series of coffees in the Hyde Park community where he lived, standard operating procedure for political rookies running in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Chicago.
"I was certainly (hosting) one of the first," said Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, rabbi emeritus at Chicago's KAM Isaiah Israel
"There were several every week," he recalled... "I remember what I said to him: 'Someday you are going to be vice president of the United States.' He laughed and said, 'Why not president?'

In 2008, Rabbi Wolf was a member of Rabbis for Obama, he has held Obama fundraisers in his home and was a big fan of the then Senator from Illinois[21].

Wolf came to Hyde Park before urban renewal. For 25 years he led the congregation at KAM Isaiah Israel, a synagogue across the street from Obama's mansion[22].

"Barack is perfect for the neighborhood!...You can't say Barack's a product of Hyde Park. He's not really from here. But everybody saw the potential early on. We had a party for him at our house when he was just starting, back in the Nineties. I said right away: 'Here's a guy who could sell our product, and sell it with splendor!' "

On "the product" Obama could sell?[23]

"The thing is, it's not what you might think...It's not radical. It's not extreme. It's a rational, progressive philosophy based on experience. You see it here. This neighborhood is genuinely integrated. We did it here, we really did it! Not just talk about it. Look around. And Barack and his family fit right in. This is their neighborhood."

In March 2008 Wolf told Jewish Week[24];

But it's not neighborly instinct that's led me to support the Obama candidacy: I support Barack Obama because he stands for what I believe, what our tradition demands.
I've worked with Obama for more than a decade, as has my son, a lawyer...
I am very proud to be his neighbor. I hope someday to visit him in the White House.

Danny K.Davis

Davis introduces Obama to Teamsters, Chicago, 2004

Danny K. Davis is the only Democrat remaining in Congress who is open about his membership of Democratic Socialists of America.

Davis' friendship with Barack Obama goes back at least to their days in the DSA influenced New Party in the mid 1990s.

Danny K. Davis joined the Chicago New Party (along with Barack Obama ) during his successful Congressional 1996 campaign on the Democratic Party ticket.

New Party News Spring 1996 page 1, celebrated the Davis’ Congressional victory and went on to say;

"New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary)..."these victories prove that small 'd' democracy can work' said Obama".

Most DSA members actively supported[25]Barack Obama in the November 2008 Presidential election;

DSA believes that the possible election of Senator Obama to the presidency in November represents a potential opening for social and labor movements to generate the critical political momentum necessary to implement a progressive political agenda...
An Obama presidency will not on its own force legislation facilitating single-payer health care (at least at the federal level) or truly progressive taxation and major cuts in wasteful and unneeded defense spending. But if DSA and other democratic forces can work in the fall elections to increase the ranks of the Congressional Progressive and Black and La-tino caucuses, progressive legislation (backed by strong social movement mobilization) might well pass the next Congress.

DSA concentrated its forces on where it could serve[26]the Obama cause best;

For the past year, especially following the nomination of Barack Obama, many DSA members worked energetically on the presidential campaign, especially in swing states

DSA and Progressives for Obama

Formed in early 2008 Progressives for Obama was desined to unite the main sectors of the U.S. left behind the Obama presidential campaign.

Of the four main founders, two Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Barbara Ehrenreich are senior members of Democratic Socialists of America.

Of the website's endorsersPaul Buhle, Duane Campbell, Peter Dreier, Adam Hochschild, Jay Mazur, Frances Fox Piven, Christine Riddiough, Stanley Sheinbaum, Cornel West and Betty Willhoite have been Democratic Socialists of America members[27].

Supporting Obama in '08

Most Democratic SA locals committed themselves fully[28] to the Obama campaign in 2008.

Sacramento DSA worked intensely on the Obama campaign through Super Tuesday and continues electoral work with the Sacramento Progressive Alliance.

New York DSA members were especially[29]active;

Some got up “at the crack of dawn,” says Jeff Gold, to take buses to support Obama in various locations in Pennsylvania, sometimes side by side with experienced trade unionists from Working America and at other times with first-time campaign volunteers...Another member traveled all the way to south Florida to help turn out Jewish voters for Obama...

"Progressive" Democrats such as Mary Jo Kilroy also benefitted;

In Columbus, Ohio, DSA members campaigned for both Obama and congressional candidate Mary Jo Kilroy, who, after a suspenseful count of provisional ballots was declared the winner in December, raising the Democrats’ majority in the House to 257.

DSA campaign appointments

During Obama's 2008 presidential cycle at least three DSA connected activists were appointed to important campaign posts.

Obama appointments-DSA connected

The Obama administration has appointed several people with Democratic Socialists of America connections to key government positions.

References

  1. Democratic Left magazine, Spring 2007
  2. Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama, 1995, page 122
  3. http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng37.html
  4. New Ground 45, March - April, 1996
  5. New Ground 45, March - April, 1996
  6. New Ground 45, March - April, 1996
  7. http://www.chicagodsa.org/ngarchive/ng45.html
  8. Memorial Service program
  9. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8630.html
  10. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/11/dr_quentin_young_obama_confidante_and
  11. http://www.Facebook.com/posted.php?id=105544909634&share_id=12004239303
  12. http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/2007/02/barack-obama-hypocrisy-on-health-care.html
  13. http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/obama012808.htm
  14. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/11/dr_quentin_young_obama_confidante_and
  15. http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/January-2009/Bright-Knights/Timuel-Black/
  16. http://www.windycitizen.com/2007/02/21/bronzeville-oral-history-engages-new-generation
  17. http://theragblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/tim-black-barack-obama-and-all-that.html
  18. http://www.religioussocialism.com/pdf/2000.sum.pdf
  19. http://www.chicagodsa.org/d2008/2008book.pdf
  20. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/10/ayers_alone_did_not_launch_oba.html
  21. http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/1076922,CST-NWS-rabbi27.article
  22. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/197wxqsf.asp?pg=2
  23. http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/197wxqsf.asp?pg=2
  24. http://www.thejewishweek.com/viewArticle/c55_a5420/Editorial__Opinion/Opinion.html
  25. Democratic Left magazine, Summer 2008
  26. Democratic Left magazine, Winter 2009
  27. Progressives for Obama blog
  28. Democratic Left magazine, Summer 2008
  29. Democratic Left magazine, Winter 2009
Topleft.jpg

Strong in the mid to late 1990s the New Party was an electoral alliance dedicated to electing leftist candidates to office-usually through the Democratic Party.

Two organizations formed the backbone of the New Party- the Democratic Socialists of America and the U.S.'s largest radical organization, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now ). Radical labor union SEIU also had considerable input, as did members of the Communist Party USA breakaway group, Committees of Correspondence.

Another very strong influence was the far left Washington DC based "think tank" the Institute for Policy Studies.

In Chicago, the New Party founded an equally radical "sister organization" Progressive Chicago.

There is strong evidence that Barack Obama was a member of both organizations.

Chicago New Party

In Chicago, the New Party consisted mainly of ACORN, Democratic Socialists of America, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Committees of Correspondence (CoC). A breakaway from the Communist Party USA, CoC worked closely with DSA and many activists were members of both organizations.

The Chicago New Party began to get organized in January 1995.[1]

On Saturday, January 14, the New Party in Chicago took another step in its effort to establish itself as a political force by holding a major outreach meeting directed at Chicago's Left. About 100 people, with sizable delegations from DSA and CoC among others, heard Bruce Colburn and Elaine Bernard preach the gospel of the New Party...

Elaine Bernard, a Labor Studies lecturer at Harvard, is a prominent DSA member. Bruce Colburn was an officer of the Milwaukee Central Labor Council and the Chair of the local New Party affiliate in Milwaukee.

The meeting was held at the meeting hall of SEIU Local 880, a local that is tackling the extremely difficult task of organizing home health care workers in Illinois. SEIU Local 880 and ACORN share office space.

Potential third party

DSA and their CoC allies saw the New Party as a vehicle for major political change-to both move the Democratic Party leftward and to eventually prepare the ground for an entirely new third party.

At a meeting attended by Chicago DSA members Kurt Anderson and Bob Roman, plus CoC members Ronelle Mustin and Sandy Patrinos, CoC leader Carl Davidson explained the New Party's role in first working through the Democratic Party then eventually replacing it.[2]

On January 27th approximately 45 people attended the Chicago DSA and Chicago CoC organized public form at the ACTWU hall on Ashland Ave. Each organization had two representatives on the panel to present their particular elections '94 post-mortem perspectives. Chicago DSA was represented by Co-Chair, Kurt Anderson and Political Education Officer, Bob Roman. CoC was represented by Carl Davidson, who is a member of CoC's National Coordinating Committee and Ronelle Mustin, an activist from the 22nd ward. The event was chaired by Sandi Patrinos, chair of Chicago CoC...
Carl Davidson wanted to focus on "voting patterns." There were essentially two winners. Naturally the Republicans, but so were the most left in Congress such as the Progressive and Black Caucuses. The latter were re-elected while the neo-liberal and conservative Democrats were voted out. More importantly this election was the de facto defeat of the elitist Democratic Leadership Council who do not care about the poor or Labor.
To win elections, Davidson emphasized that there are two necessary coinciding factors. First, a passive majority... Secondly, a militant minority, which came to fruition for the Right wing with the Christian Coalition...
Hence Davidson emphasized that in this historical period the Left's strategy must be electoral politics not revolution. Consequently the Left must galvanize the "majority" - the working class and poor... Moreover the democratic left needs get active in the New Party which has won 20 of 30 local elections. Thus a short-term strategy of working with the Democratic Party and in the long-term work with the New Party.

Obama gets involved

Barack Obama clearly saw the potential of the New Party, because he was soon seeking their support -alongside Michael Chandler, Willie Delgado, Miguel del Valle, Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez and Jesse Garcia.[3]

About 50 activists attended the Chicago New Party membership meeting in July. The purpose of the meeting was to update members on local activities and to hear appeals for NP support from four potential political candidates. The NP is being very active in organization building and politics...
The political entourage included Alderman Michael Chandler, William Delgado, chief of staff for State Rep Miguel del Valle, and spokespersons for State Sen. Alice Palmer, Sonya Sanchez, chief of staff for State Sen. Jesse Garcia, who is running for State Rep in Garcia's District; and Barack Obama, chief of staff for State Sen. Alice Palmer. Obama is running for Palmer's vacant seat...
Although ACORN and SEIU Local 880 were the harbingers of the NP there was a strong presence of CoC and DSA (15% DSA)... Four political candidates were "there" seeking NP support.

Barack Obama won the 1996 election, by using legal technicalities to get all his opponents disqualified-but he still encouraged New Party volunteers to join his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration.[4]

The NP's '96 Political Program has been enormously successful with 3 of 4 endorsed candidates winning electoral primaries. All four candidates attended the NP membership meeting on April 11th to express their gratitude.
Danny Davis, winner in the 7th Congressional District, invited NPers to join his Campaign Steering Committee.
Patricia Martin, who won the race for Judge in 7th Subcircuit Court, explained that due to the NP she was able to network and get experienced advice from progressives like Davis.
Barack Obama, victor in the 13th State Senate District, encouraged NPers to join in his task forces on Voter Education and Voter Registration...

Did Obama join the New Party?

There is strong evidence that Obama actually joined the New Party.

Danny Davis joined the Chicago New Party during his successful Congressional 1996 campaign on the Democratic Party ticket.

New Party News Spring 1996 page 1, celebrated the Davis’ Congressional victory and went on to say;

"New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary)..."these victories prove that small 'd' democracy can work' said Obama".

This photo from New Party News names Obama and Danny Davis as "NP endorsed" candidates.

New Party News Spring 1996 page 2, Danny Davis center, Barack Obama right

These clippings from the same issue of New Party News page 1 name Obama and Davis as New Party "members".

Np3.JPG
Np4.JPG

Progressive Chicago

Progressive-chicagos.jpg

Progressive Chicago was founded in 1993 by members of the New Party, in particular Madeline Talbott and Dan Swinney.

In an April 27, 1993 letter to prospective Progressive Chicago members, Dan Swinney wrote;

I recently have become interested in the New Party as well as committed myself to see if we can build a Progressive Chicago network, working with Madeline Talbott of ACORN - the local New Party convener.
I wanted to introduce you to the NP and Progressive Chicago and would like to talk to you about it to see if there is a role you want to play.
Enclosed is a brochure, a longer description of the NP and the ideas behind it...

A circa 1993 Progressive Chicago introductory pamphlet stated;

Progressive Chicago was started by members of the New Party who wanted to be able to put together an organization strong enough to win: If that means supporting a candidate running as a Democrat, then fine. If that means running our own candidates in aldermanic or state representative races on whatever line that gives them the best chance of winning, fine.

Obama involvement in Progressive Chicago

Barack Obama was probably approached to join Progressive Chicago as early July? 7, 1993 as this unsigned handwritten note suggests.

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According to the same note Obama was "more than happy to be involved";

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By September 1993 Obama was one of 17 people listed as a signatory on all Progressive Chicago letters - as shown by the second page of this September 22 Progressive Chicago letter to Joe Gardner.

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On December 31, 1993, Progressive Chicago wrote to all key members, including Obama, inviting them to a January 19, 1994 meeting.

Clearly Obama's involvement in Progressive Chicago was high level and lasted at least several months.

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Socialist control

Like its "sister organization", the New Party, Progressive Chicago was heavily infiltrated by supporters of Democratic Socialists of America and the Communist Party USA off-shoot Committees of Correspondence.

In late 1993 Progressive Chicago letters were always signed by 17 people;[5]

People targeted or solicited to join Progressive Chicago included Obama political mentor and Communist Party USA affiliate Alice Palmer, Communist Party member Frank Lumpkin, Rev. Jim Reed of Christians for Socialism and Democratic Socialists of America associates Miguel Del Valle, Carole Travis, Clem Balanoff, Sue Purrington and Jane Ramsey.

References

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Communist leader on Obama

On November 15, 2008, Sam Webb, National Chair of the Communist Party USA delivered an address to the Communist Party USA National Committee. During his address, he noted the following concerning the party's relationship with Obama,

"The left can and should advance its own views and disagree with the Obama administration without being disagreeable. Its tone should be respectful. We are speaking to a friend."

Frank Marshall Davis

Frank Marshall Davis

Barack Obama's first known connection with a Communist Party USA supporter was his boyhood relationship with communist poet Frank Marshall Davis in Hawaii.

Barack Obama's relationship to Frank Marshall Davis, first came to light through a March 2007 speech[1] at New York University's Tamiment Library by Communist Party USA supporter and historian Gerald Horne.

Commenting on the alleged leftist sympathies of Hawaiians, Horne said;

When these sources are explored, I think scholars of the future will be struck by, for example, the response in Honolulu when tens of thousands of workers went on strike when labor and CP leaders were convicted of Smith Act violations in 1953 – a response totally unlike the response on the mainland. Of course 98% of these workers were of Asian-Pacific ancestry, which suggests that scholars have also been derelict in analyzing why these workers were less anti-communist than their Euro-American counterparts.
In any case, deploring these convictions in Hawaii was an African-American poet and journalist by the name of Frank Marshall Davis, who was certainly in the orbit of the CP – if not a member – and who was born in Kansas and spent a good deal of his adult life in Chicago, before decamping to Honolulu in 1948 at the suggestion of his good friend Paul Robeson.
Eventually, he befriended another family – a Euro-American family – that had migrated to Honolulu from Kansas and a young woman from this family eventually had a child with a young student from Kenya East Africa who goes by the name of Barack Obama, who retracing the steps of Davis eventually decamped to Chicago.
In his best selling memoir ‘Dreams of my Father’, the author speaks warmly of an older black poet, he identifies simply as "Frank" as being a decisive influence in helping him to find his present identity as an African-American, a people who have been the least anticommunist and the most left-leaning of any constituency in this nation

Frank Marshall Davis' communism

Information from Davis' 601 page FBI file reveals that Davis (born 1905) became interested in the Communist Party USA as far back as 1931.

Certainly from the mid/late '30s to the early '40s Davis was involved in several Communist Party fronts including the the National Negro Congress, the League of American Writers, the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties and the Civil Rights Congress.

The FBI first began tracking Davis in 1944 when they identified him as member of the Communist Party's Dorie Miller Club in Chicago-card number 47544.

Davis taught courses at the party controlled Abraham Lincoln School in Chicago and attended meetings of the party's Cultural Club until he left for Hawaii in 1948.

Hawaiian activism

Frank Marshall Davis' move to Hawaii was influenced by two secret Communist Party USA members Harry Bridges and Paul Robeson.

When contemplating moving to Hawaii, Davis "wrote to Harry Bridges, whom I had met at Lincoln School. Bridges suggested I get in touch with Koji Ariyoshi, editor of the Honolulu Record..."

The Lincoln School was run by the Communist Party USA. Koji Ariyoshi was a leader of the Hawaiian Communist Party which controlled the ILWU affiliated Honolulu Record- which Davis went to work for.

Before going underground in 1950, the Hawaiian Communist Party was one of the most dynamic in the U.S. at the time. The mainland put huge resources into the Hawaiian party because the Soviets wanted the U.S. military presence on the islands shut down. The Hawaiian communists were charged with agitating against the U.S. military bases at every opportunity. Several times the FBI observed Davis photographing obscure Hawaiian beaches-possibly for espionage purposes.

Through its control of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) the Hawaiian Communist Party USA had considerable influence on the local Democratic Party. In the mid '50s, while still a confirmed communist, Davis like many of his comrades, became an official in the local Democratic Party.

At the time the underground Communist Party was divided into two or three person independent cells. Davis led one such cell "Group 10" with his wife Helen Canwell and one other comrade.

An extensive Senate Security Investigation in 1956 shattered the Hawaiian Party, driving the remnants completely underground .

The FBI continued to monitor Davis into the 1960s and he was marked down for immediate arrest should war break out between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Still a communist?

ACPFB letterhead April 12, 1973

Frank Marshall Davis met Barack Obama in 1970 or 1971 when Obama was about 10 years old. The relationship lasted until Obama left Hawaii for Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1978.

As late as 1973, Frank Marshall Davis was still listed as an endorser of a major Communist Party USA front organization, American Committee for Protection of Freign Born.

Known Communist Party USA members listed with Frank Marshall Davis at right include Richard Criley, Abe Feinglass, Hugh DeLacy, Stanley Faulkner and James Dombrowski.

Frank Marshall Davis and Obama

In an article by Toby Harnden published in the Telegraph on August 22, 2008, Communist Frank Marshall Davis's influence on the young Barack Obama was uncovered. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Barack Obama's half-sister, told the Associated Press that her grandfather had seen Davis as "a point of connection, a bridge if you will, to the larger African-American experience for my brother (Barack Obama)".

Dawna Weatherly-Williams, a close friend of Frank Davis stated that Obama's maternal grandfather, Stanley Dunham and Davis were close friends, adding that they would spend evenings together, playing scrabble, drinking, cracking jokes and smoking marijuana. She said that Davis was first introduced to Obama in 1970 at the age of 10:

"Stan had been promising to bring Barry by because we all had that in common - Frank’s kids were half-white, Stan’s grandson was half-black and my son was half-black. We all had that in common and we all really enjoyed it. We got a real kick out of reality."[2]

Chicago Communists first recorded interest in Obama

Peoples Weekly World, August 22, 1992 (view full article)

In an article entitled Voter enthusiasm on rise in Chicago by Judith M. Hochberg, published in the Communist Party USA paper People's Weekly World on August 22, 1992, Barack Obama, then Illinois State Director of Project VOTE! is quoted as saying:

"The main point is that awareness of the importance of voting, ehe excitement of voting this year is getting out there".[3]

Vernon Jarrett and Barack Obama

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Vernon Jarrett was a prominent Chicago journalist and was a family friend and later father-in-law of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

In the 1940s Jarrett worked in several communist influenced organizations in Chicago, including serving on the publicity committee of the communist controlled Packing House Workers Strike Committee, with Frank Marshall Davis.

He also ran a radio show with Communist Party USA member Oscar Brown, Jr.

Vernon Jarrett was also a fan of Barack Obama. He watched his career from its early stages and became an influential supporter.

In 1992 Obama worked for the ACORN offshoot, Project Vote to register black voters in aid of the Senate Campaign of Carol Moseley Braun-who had strong Communist Party USA ties and was Harold Washington's legislative floor leader.

Obama helped Carol Moseley Braun win her Senate seat, then took it over himself in 2004-backed by the same communist/socialist alliance that had elected Washington and Moseley Braun.

Commenting on the 1992 race, Vernon Jarrett wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times of August 11th 1992;

Good news! Good news! Project Vote, a collectivity of 10 church-based community organizations dedicated to black voter registration, is off and running. Project Vote is increasing its rolls at a 7,000-per-week clip...If Project Vote is to reach its goal of registering 150,000 out of an estimated 400,000 unregistered blacks statewide, "it must average 10,000 rather than 7,000 every week," says Barack Obama, the program's executive director...

Dee Myles, a Chicago based chair of the Education Commission of the Communist Party USA penned a tribute to Vernon Jarrett, for the People's Weekly World of June 5th, 2004.

Readers like me can be extremely selective of the journalists we read habitually... We are selective about the journalists to whom we become insatiably addicted, and once hooked we develop a constructive love affair without the romance...

Such was my experience with Vernon Jarrett, an African American journalist in Chicago who died at the age of 86 on May 23. I became a Vernon Jarrett addict, and I am proud of it!

Vernon Jarrett’s career as a journalist in Chicago began and ended at the Chicago Defender, the African American daily paper. In between, he was the first Black journalist at the Chicago Tribune, and I first began to read his articles during his tenure at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jarrett’s claim to fame is that he was a partisan of the cause of African Americans in the broad democratic tradition of Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois...

Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois were both Communist Party USA members. On April 9th, 1998 at Chicago's South Shore Cultural Center, Vernon Jarrett hosted a Paul Robeson Citywide Centennial Celebration event, with his old comrade and Party sympathiser Margaret Burroughs and former Communist Party USA members Studs Terkel and his old friend Oscar Brown, Jr.

Dee Myles went on to say;

Jarrett was fanatical about African Americans registering and voting in mass for socially conscious candidates. He championed Harold Washington like a great warrior, and this March, from his hospital bed, wrote an article appealing to Black Chicago to turn out to vote for Barack Obama in the Illinois primaries. Obama astounded everyone with an incredible landslide victory as the progressive, Black candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. From his sickbed, Vernon Jarrett issued a clarion call, and the people responded.

Communist Party support in Obama's 2004 Senate race

The Communist Party USA was supportive of several candidates in the 2004 election cycle including Frank Barbaro, Cynthia McKinney, Barack Obama, Betty Castor, Nancy Farmer and Inez Tenenbaum[4];

It would be helpful for each district to single out House seats that can be swung from Republican to Democrat to develop our list of key races, which includes progressive Frank Barbaro in New York and Cynthia McKinney in Georgia.
A number of exciting candidates are emerging in the Senate, in the first place Barak Obama in Illinois, and also several progressive women including Betty Castor seeking to retain retiring Bob Graham's seat as Democrat; Nancy Farmer seeking to defeat Kit Bond in Missouri; Inez Tenenbaum seeking to retain retiring Fritz Hollings seat as Democrat.

The Communist Party USA actively campaigned for Obama during his successful 2004 Illinois Senate race[5].

Activists from Illinois were immersed in the campaign to elect Barak Obama to the U.S. Senate. Obama won a landslide victory in the March 16 Democratic primary. If Obama wins in November, he would be only the third African American senator since Reconstruction.
“This was a historic victory. It was a victory for political independence and grassroots, coalition, and issue oriented politics over the machine and money,” said John Bachtell, Illinois CP district organizer.

In an October 23 2007 report to a Chicago Special District Meeting on African American Equality, Communist Party USA National Board member John Bachtell wrote:[6]

The historic election of {Harold} Washington was the culmination of many years of struggle. It reflected a high degree of unity of the African American community and the alliance with a section of labor, the Latino community and progressive minded whites. This legacy of political independence also endures...
This was also reflected in the historic election of Barack Obama. Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election. Once again Obama’s campaign reflected the electoral voting unity of the African American community, but also the alliances built with several key trade unions, and forces in the Latino and white communities.
It also reflected a breakthrough among white voters. In the primary, Obama won 35% of the white vote and 7 north side wards, in a crowded field. During the general election he won every ward in the city and all the collar counties. This appeal has continued in his presidential run.

According to a November 20 2004, election report[7] from Young Communist League USA national coordinator Jessica Marshall confirms Young Communist League USA support for Obama's campaign through Youth for Obama.

In New York YCLers were delegates and founders of the local organizing committees of the National Hip Hop Political Convention. In Providence, Miami and Chicago YCLers helped head up the League of Pissed Off Voters efforts. YCLers staffed Democratic Party operations and headed up precincts in Ohio and Florida. A YCLer from Virginia was a canvas director for a progressive young candidate in a tight race in Ohio. In Miami, the newly formed club helped ACT organizing efforts at Miami Dade Community College.
In Chicago YCL members were very active in the Youth for Obama efforts and one member worked with the United States Student Association and his student government to register over 1,000 new voters.

"Revolutionary mole" letter

Frank Chapman is a long time Communist Party USA supporter. In the early 1980s he chaired a party front National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. In the mid '80s he served on the board of another communist front, the U.S. Peace Council, alongside two future Obama colleagues and supporters Alice Palmer and Barbara Lee.

Just after Obama won the pivotal Iowa primary Chapman wrote a letter to the January 12, 2008 edition of the CPUSA's Peoples Weekly World;[8]

Now, beyond all the optimism I was capable of mustering, Mr. Obama won Iowa! He won in a political arena 95 percent white. It was a resounding defeat for the manipulations of the ultra-right and their right-liberal fellow travelers. Also it was a hard lesson for liberals who underestimated the political fury of the masses in these troubled times.
Obama’s victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle. Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface. This is the old revolutionary “mole,” not only showing his traces on the surface but also breaking through.
The old pattern of politics as usual has been broken. It may not have happened as we expected it to happen but what matters is that it happened. The message is clear: we can and must defeat the ultra-right, by uniting the broadest possible coalition that will represent an overwhelming majority of the people in a new political dynamic. We must quickly shed yesterday’s political perspective and get in step with the march of events.

Message of support to a Communist Party "front"

In March 2008, Barack Obama sent a message of support to the Communist Party USA controlled Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday organization.

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April 1, 2008 Washington DC--Evelina Alarcon, Executive Director of Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday welcomed the backing for a Cesar Chavez national holiday from Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama who issued a statement on Cesar Chavez’s birthday Monday, March 31, 2008. “We at Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday appreciate the backing of a national holiday for Cesar Chavez from presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama. That support is crucial because it takes the signature of a President to establish the holiday along with the Congress’s approval,” stated Evelina Alarcon. “It is also encouraging that Senator Hillary Clinton who is a great admirer of Cesar Chavez acknowledged him on his birthday. We hope that she too will soon state her support for a Cesar Chavez national holiday.”

Alarcon’s remarks were part of a statement made at a press conference at our nation’s Capitol on April 1st called by Chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) in support of HR 76, a resolution he authored with 62 Co-Sponsors that encourages the establishment of a Cesar Chavez national holiday by the Congress[9].

Barack Obama’s statement for a Cesar Chavez national holiday:

"Chavez left a legacy as an educator, environmentalist, and a civil rights leader. And his cause lives on. As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago. And we should honor him for what he's taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That's why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez's birthday a national holiday. It's time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union."
Senator Barack Obama March 31, 2008.

Obama's sister given communist "front" award

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standing Evelina Alarcon left, Maya Soetoro-Ng, right

In June 2008, Communist Party USA leader and Executive Director of Cesar E. Chavez National Holiday, Evelina Alarcon presented an award from the organization to Barack Obama's younger sister Maya Soetoro-Ng at a gathering in East Los Angeles[10].

Addressing a largely Latino audience in East Los Angeles yesterday, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng shared stories about her childhood with her older brother, Barack Obama, and the effect he has had on her life. Held in El Sereno’s Hecho en Mexico restaurant, the event drew more than a hundred enthusiastic community activists, local elected officials, and regular citizens...
Evelina Alarcon, a notable Obama supporter and the sister of long-time Los Angeles politician Richard Alarcon, presented a poster to Obama’s sister commemorating the life of Cesar Chavez.
Alarcon recounted the accomplishments of the late Chicano leader and argued persuasively for honoring his accomplishments with a national holiday. Reminding those in attendance that Barack Obama supports the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. Alarcon trusts that if Obama is elected president the holiday will become a reality.
Obama has been quoted recently to say:“As farmworkers and laborers across America continue to struggle for fair treatment and fair wages, we find strength in what Cesar Chavez accomplished so many years ago and we should honor him for what he’s taught us about making America a stronger, more just, and more prosperous nation. That’s why I support the call to make Cesar Chavez’s birthday a national holiday. It’s time to recognize the contributions of this American icon to the ongoing efforts to perfect our union.”

Communist support in '08

The Communist Party USA and the Young Communist League USA, put in a huge effort to elect Barack Obama in 2008.

Individual party members who actively propagandized for Obama, or worked on the ground to get him elected include;

References

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Founding

The process of forming Committees of Correspondence (CoC) began in late 1991 when approximately one third of the Communist Party USA membership split from the party to form a new organization.

The former communists joined with former Maoists, Trotsyites, socialists and anarchists to launch CoC at Berkeley, California in 1992 and to convene the official founding conference in Chicago in 1994.

In 2000, Committees of Correspondence (CoC or CofC) became Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS).

Obama and the Committees of Correspondence

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The Committees of Correspondence (CoC) worked with Obama in Chicago through the New Party, the Alice Palmer campaign and the anti Iraq War movement.

In 2008 Committees of Correspondence actively campaigned for Obama and several supporters were endorsers of the Progressives for Obama website.

CCDS leader Manning Marable, writing in the December 2008 issue of British Trotskyite journal Socialist Review, explained Obama's relationship to the Chicago left.[1]

What makes Obama different is that he has also been a community organiser. He has read left literature, including my works, and he understands what socialism is. A lot of the people working with him are, indeed, socialists with backgrounds in the Communist Party or as independent Marxists. There are a lot of people like that in Chicago who have worked with him for years...

Manning Marable was almost certainly referring to the numerous former Chicago Communist Party USA members working with Obama who had become members or supporters of Committees of Correspondence.

Timuel Black

Timuel Black

Timuel Black is an historian, activist and nonogenarian icon of the Chicago left. Black is a veteran of the Socialist Party USA and Democratic Socialists of America. For several years he has served on the Committees of Correspondence advisory board.

Timuel Black's relationship to Barack Obama stretches back until at least the early 1990s[2];

So it’s no surprise that in 1991, when a community organizer named Barack Obama returned to Chicago with a Harvard law degree, he sought advice from Black. Seventeen years later, on November 4, 2008, Black and his wife, Zenobia, watched the election coverage in their home with friends. “When we learned that he had made it, that there was no turning back, the house just went wild

In 1995 Timuel Black attempted to mediate a dispute between Illinois State Senator Alice Palmer and her chosen successor Barack Obama.

Alice Palmer had allegedly promised Obama her State Senate seat if she was successful in a run for the U.S. Congress.

She wasn't successful, but Obama refused to stand aside and went on to win the seat unopposed-after getting all his opponents (including Palmer) disqualified on voting technicalities.

"I liked Alice Palmer a lot. I thought she was a good public servant," Obama said. "It was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently."

His choice divided veteran Chicago political activists.

"There was friction about the decision he made," said City Colleges of Chicago professor emeritus Timuel Black, who tried to negotiate with Obama on Palmer's behalf. "There were deep disagreements."

Despite the mess, Timuel Black became and remains an admirer of the ambitious young politician.

"My first impression was this was a very, very brilliant young man," Black says.

Black said Obama's biggest obstacle would not be from whites, but from blacks.

"The biggest thing he has to face is the accusations by some blacks that he is not black enough...He has to overcome that without being so black that he alienates potential white supporters."

Timuel Black addressed a largely black audience at the Woodson Regional Library auditorium on Feb. 11, 2007[3].

Speaking of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign he said;

Obama is the test of how deep racism is in this country...Barack is the recipient of the struggle of other generations...That means that you feel proud of your ancestors, your successes...(Obama), based on the opportunities that were opened to him by others, is in the position to prove to the world whether the United States of America is a true democracy, or is a continuing hypocrisy.

Timuel Black was involved in Obama's campaign committee during his successful 2004 U.S. Senate race.

In December 2008 Barack Obama sent a note to Timuel Black's 90th birthday celebrations, which read in part[4];

For forty years, he shaped our young men and women into those citizens. And though he may have retired from the teaching profession nearly two decades ago, he never stopped being a teacher. We are all his students in a classroom that never closes.

Carl Davidson

Carl Davidson

Carl Davidson was a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society, a staff writer for the Maoist publication The Guardian and an activist with the pro China Communist Party USA (Marxist-Leninist) and the League for Revolutionary Struggle[5], before joining Committees of Correspondence on its founding in 1992.

One of the Committees of Correspondence's early projects involved establishing the radical New Party in the early 1990s.

Committees of Correspondence played a leading role in the orgainization, alongside activists from ACORN, SEIU, Democratic Socialists of America and the Institute for Policy Studies.

In the mid 1990s Carl Davidson was leading activist in the Chicago New Party, where he worked closely with New Party member and candidate Barack Obama[6].

I'm from Chicago, too, and known Obama from the time he came to the New Party to get our endorsement for his first race ever. I've been in his home, and as an IL legislator, he's helped or community technology movement a number of times. He said all the right things to the ACORN and New Party folks, and we endorsed him, but I noticed too, that he seemed to measure every answer to questions put to him several tmes before coming out with it.

Carl Davidson was one of several Chicago area residents, including Don Rose, Marilyn Katz and James Weinstein, who first came together as Chicagoans Against War in Iraq in September 2002 to campaign against the war in Iraq.

In June 2003, they changed their name to Chicagoans Against War and Injustice[7].

On October 2 2002 Chicagoans Against War in Iraq organized the famous anti war rally in Federal Plaza Chicago, where Illininois State Senator Barack Obama made his name as a strong opponent of the war. Some of the people around Davidson, later held a fundraiser for Obama when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004[8].

He spoke at our first antiwar rally. He spent most of his speech detailing all the wars in history he supported, then finally made a distinction between just wars and 'dumb' wars, and going into Iraq, which was still six months down the road then, was a 'dumb war,' and he flatly opposed it. Good, that put him on our side, and some of us organized a fundraiser for him for his Senate race.

Danny K. Davis

New Party News Spring 1996 page 2, Danny Davis center, Barack Obama right

Illinois Congressman Danny K. Davis is a member of Democratic Socialists of America and also has connections to Committees of Correspondence.

According to Chicago DSA’s New Ground of September 1994[9];

"Over 500 delegates and observers (including 140 from Chicago) attended the founding convention of the Committees of Correspondence (CoC) held here in Chicago in July.

New Ground reported that speakers…included Charles Nqukula, General Secretary of the South African Communist Party, Dulce Maria Pereira, a senatorial candidate of the Workers Party of Brazil, Angela Davis of CoC, Andre Brie of the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany (a revamp of the old East German Communist Party). Guests during the Convention included Cook County Commissioner Danny Davis, Chicago Aldermen Helen Shiller and Rick Munoz, a representative of the Green Left Weekly of Australia and a representative of the Cuban Interest Section."

In 1994 Danny Davis, Chicago, was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence[10].

Davis has been a long time friend and supporter of Barack Obama-one his most loyal political allies.

In the mid 1990s, Danny K. Davis joined the Chicago New Party (along with Barack Obama ) during his successful Congressional 1996 campaign on the Democratic Party ticket.

New Party News Spring 1996 page 1, celebrated the Davis’ Congressional victory and went on to say;

"New Party members won three other primaries this Spring in Chicago: Barack Obama (State Senate), Michael Chandler (Democratic Party Committee) and Patricia Martin (Cook County Judiciary)..."these victories prove that small 'd' democracy can work' said Obama".

Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers

In 1994, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Chicago, were listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, former leaders of the terrorist Weather Underground Organization hosted Obma's first known political gathering in their home in 1995.

Bill Ayers' ties to Obama run deep[11];

The two men were involved in efforts to reform the city’s education system. They appeared together on academic panels, including one organized by Michelle Obama to discuss the juvenile justice system, an area of mutual concern. Mr. Ayers’s book on the subject won a rave review in The Chicago Tribune by Mr. Obama, who called it “a searing and timely account.”

Mr. Obama further expanded his list of allies by joining the boards of two well-known charities: the Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation.

These memberships have allowed him to help direct tens of millions of dollars in grants over the years to groups that championed the environment, campaign finance reform, gun control and other causes supported by the liberal network he was cultivating. Mr. Brazier’s group, the Woodlawn Organization, received money, for instance, as did antipoverty groups with ties to organized labor like Chicago Acorn, whose endorsement Mr. Obama sought and won in his State Senate race.

Earl Durham

A former member of the Communist Party USA national committee, Earl Durham's name appeared on 1994 "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Professor Durham went into "education reform" in the 1970s and in the 1990s founded the organization Community Organizing and Family Issues.

Barack Obama served on the organization's sponsoring committee in 1994/95[12].

Marilyn Katz

Marilyn Katz

Now a prominent Chicago public reations professional and Democratic Party activist, Katz has a background in Students for a Democratic Society and the socialist New American Movement.

In 1994 Marilyn Katz, Chicago, was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Katz, with Carl Davidson helped organize Obama's appearance at the 2002 Chicago anti Iraq War rally.

She has worked closely with Barack Obama since meeting him through his position at Miner, Barnhill & Galland in the 1990s.

It was through the law firm that Mr. Obama met Marilyn Katz, who gave him entry into another activist network: the foot soldiers of the white student and black power movements that helped define Chicago in the 1960s.
“For better or worse, this is Chicago,” said Ms. Katz, who has held fund-raisers for Mr. Obama at her home. “Everyone is connected to everyone.”''

Katz was a major fundraiser and a delegate at the Democratic Party convention for Obama.

Mike Klonsky

Mike klonsky.JPG

Mike Klonsky is a former leader of the Students for a Democratic Society, the pro China October League and the Communist Party USA (Marxist-Leninist).

In 1994 Mike Klonsky, Chicago, was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Mike Klonsky is a long time friends with Carl Davidson and Bill Ayers and was involved with some of the educational project which Ayers and Obama worked together on.

Until June 2008 Mike Klonsky ran a Blog on Barack Obama's campaign website.

It was pulled at very short notice after adverse publicity began surfacing on the blogosphere.

Alice Palmer

Alice Palmer

A long time Communist Party USA sympathiser, Alice Palmer traveled extensively in the old Soviet Bloc and was a leader of the Soviet front International Organization of Journalists.

In 1994 Alice Palmer and her husband Buzz Palmer, Chicago, were listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Barack Obama was Alice Palmer's chief of staff when she ran for Congress in the mid 1990s. She was the main sponsor of Obama's early political career until he took her old Illinois State Senate seat in 1996.

It was Alice Palmer who introduced Barack Obama to the meeting in the home of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Lou Pardo

Also a member of Democratic Socialists of America, Lou Pardo worked with Obama on voter registration in 1992. In the mid 1990s Pardo was active, with Obama in the Chicago New Party.

In 1994 Lou Pardo, Chicago, was listed on a "Membership, Subscription and Mailing List" for the Chicago Committees of Correspondence.[10]

Committees of Correspondence and Progressives for Obama

Progressives for Obama was originated by socialists, for socialists.

Of the four main founders, two Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Barbara Ehrenreich are senior members of Democratic Socialists of America. The fifth founder, Chicago activist Carl Davidson, the organization's webmaster is now one of four co-leaders of Committees of Correspondence.

Of the website's endorsers[13] James Campbell, Barry Cohen, Van Gosse, Zenobia Johnson-Black, Marilyn Katz, Fred Klonsky, Eric Mar, Jay Schaffner, Dan Swinney, Harry Targ, John Trinkl and Mildred Williamson have proven Committees of Correspondence connections.

2008 election

Shortly before the November 2008 election CCDS issued a statement "A Critical Moment-a message to CCDS membership" calling for a major effort to defeat the Republicans and elect Obama.[14]

With less than three months remaining before the November 4th general election, CCDS members together with all left and progressive forces are urged to work wholeheartedly to ensure a massive defeat at the polls for John McCain and his war-mongering, neo-conservative, right-wing sponsors.
Only a massive turnout of new, young, African American, Latino, Asian American, trade union, and progressive voters casting a ballot for Barack Obama can insure this defeat. We must find ways to argue the stakes inherent in a McCain win on key issues: ending the war, the faltering economy, creating “green” jobs, a sustainable environment, universal health care, and restoring the right to organize unions.
The various smears, racism and fear mongering surrounding the first viable African American presidential candidacy are making inroads among large segments of the public. CCDS members have a role to play in challenging the racism, joining with broad efforts like that of the petition campaign against Fox TV’s racist characterizations of the Obamas organized by the Color of Change. Hip hop artist, Das and 150 others delivered 620,000 signatures to Fox TV’s studios in Manhattan in July.
It is important to find ways to pressure the Obama campaign from an independent platform, and resist efforts to demoralize, sidetrack, and divide the movement to elect Obama. Progressives For Obama (P4O) is one such vehicle. It emerged in March 2008 during the primary campaign and has become a viable voice of critical support from the left, aiming to countervail the growing right-wing pressures on the Obama campaign.
We urgently ask CCDS members to link up with local campaigns and organizations like Progressives for Obama (P4O) to infuse the election campaign with the issues that matter most – and making the campaign at the base a deeply progressive project.
The NEC, at its most recent meeting, discussed issuing a message urging members in local areas to help build Progressives for Obama. At the launch of P4O, a draft call was issued by Tom Hayden, Bill Fletcher, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Danny Glover. Carl Davidson, a member of the NCC of CCDS, is a key organizer and moderator of the P4O web blog. The list of endorsers has grown impressively to include leaders of labor, peace and justice organizations, and leading progressive individuals.

Carl Davidson added his own addendum to the message, urging CCDS members to work with Tent State, Progressives for Obama, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice and The Nation magazine.

Work locally to expand the electorate in a younger, more progressive direction. Register new voters, and work with other groups, including the young people around the Obama campaign. If it's a normal election, McCain can win. If it's not, and turnout is new and different, we have a good shot. It really boils down to that.
Get out the vote. Registering doesn't help if they don't go to the polls. Again, work with others and the Obama youth, to do this. Be resolute, don't get sidetracked by the bumpy ride, stick to the slogan, “Stop McCain, Stop the War, Vote Obama 2008!
Get outside the usual comfort zones and make new allies. We're going to need them to wage struggle with the Obama White House in 2009...
Hook all this up with a local progressive blog or two or three, or start one yourself...Be a public face, then link to others across the country and with us nationally. This is the scaffolding of a national network.
If you're up for adventure, come to Denver for the Democratic National Convention. Hook up with Tent State, P4O, PDA, UFPJ and the Nation Magazine. We’ll put you to work!
CCDS members have a lot to contribute as an independent force committed to advance the fight for peace and for a massive jobs program in this year’s crucial elections. From this perspective we urge members to consider joining and or supporting Progressives for Obama with our ideas, activism and financial support.
For those members and friends who are supporting other independent candidates, we urge that we go forward together to register new voters, fight hard on the issues and lay the groundwork for expanding and consolidating the progressive majority.[14]

Barbara Lee

In 1991/92, the Communist Party USA split, with many members leaving to form, the Committees of Correspondence.

At the Committees of Correspondence founding conference, Berkeley California, July 17-19, 1992, Barbara Lee was a candidate for the CoC National Coordinating Committee, while still a Democratic California State Assembly person.[15]

Barbara Lee endorsing Barack Obama

While most California Democrats initially supported Hillary Clinton, in December 2008, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, became the first California Democrat to endorse Barack Obama.

Lee wrote in the December 10 2008 Huffington Post[16];

I wanted to share some exciting news with you, as today I announced my endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.
Like so many Americans, I first heard Senator Obama when he delivered his electrifying speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Deep down, I knew I'd witnessed history in the making.
Barack Obama represents a bridge to the future. He embodies the hope and new direction that our country so desperately needs. As I've watched Senator Obama campaign for the presidency, I am convinced that he is a real agent of change; a man who can lead our nation in a new and positive direction.
This century cries for social, environmental, diplomatic, global, and neighborhood solutions to the misery that confronts far too many people in our own country and around the globe. I share Senator Obama's vision and active commitment to building a society based on activism, progressive values and a keen sense that we must act now and outside of the usual bounds of partisanship and expediency.
I know that a President Obama would find a prompt and effective way to end the occupation of Iraq and that he would strengthen U.S. diplomacy and international development as an instrument of national policy to prevent crises that lead to war and conflagration.
I know that a President Obama would place education, health care, poverty, economic security, criminal justice reform, climate change and all of the important domestic issues at the top of his agenda.
And, I know that a President Obama would make the eradication of HIV/AIDS at home and abroad a top priority.
I founded One Voice PAC as an organization dedicated to helping elect truly progressive candidates who will challenge the status quo. To that end, I am honored to endorse Senator Obama's candidacy and I hope you will join me in helping him secure the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

Van Jones and the Committees of Correspondence

Van Jones and Barack Obama

Barack Obama's former "Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones also had strong ties to the Committees of Correspondence.

Van Jones and his own Marxist-Leninist organization, STORM worked closely for years with members of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

Bay Area left identity Betita Martinez, a CCDS Advisory Board member[17]was close to Jones and helped "mentor" his Ella Baker Center for Human Rights staff. Martinez, Committees of Correspondence supporters Max Elbaum and Felicia Gustin, Van Jones and Adam Gold of STORM served together on the organizing committee[18]of anti-Iraq War newspaper War Times.

When leading Committees of Correspondence member Max Elbaum released his book "Revolution in the Air: Sixties Radicals Turn to Lenin, Mao and Che" in 2002- Van Jones contributed these comments on the flyleaf;

By unearthing a hidden history of radical U.S. politics, Max Elbaum has erected an invaluable bridge between the generations. Finally, we have one book that can successfully connect the dots between the battles of the 1960s and the emerging challenges and struggles of the new century."

In February 2006 Van Jones was guest speaker at a Committees of Correspondence fund raiser in Berkeley. Kendra Alexander was a Communist Party USA and Committees of Correspondence leader[19].

The second annual CCDS and Kendra Alexander Foundation Banquet will take place on Sunday, February 19 at the Redwood Gardens community room in Berkeley with Van Jones, a pioneering human rights activist known as a steadfast opponent of police brutality and mass incarceration, as keynote speaker.
Jones is now working to create environmentally friendly, "green-collar" jobs for formerly incarcerated persons.
The banquet is titled "Towards Building a Progressive Majority" and benefits the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and the Kendra Alexander Foundation. The Foundation was named in honor of the visionary leader of the Committees of Correspondence.

References

"Labor Movement is the Solution"

The Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World January 31st 2009 quoted President Barack Obama as saying;

"I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem. To me, it's part of the solution."[1]

Obama and the SEIU

According to SEIU president Andy Stern[2];

"There has never been a fight in Illinois or a fight in the nation where our members have not asked Barack Obama for assistance and he has not done everything he could to help us,"

On February 15 2008 SEIU announced its endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

A press statement by the union stated;

Nurses, childcare workers, janitors and other service workers endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president today, calling him the candidate with the best vision, best plan and best strategy to lead the country to a new American Dream....
SEIU members are supporting Obama with an aggressive political effort. With more than 150,000 members in the upcoming primary states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas, SEIU will mobilize thousands to go door-to-door, work the phones, and will send mail about their support for Obama. SEIU also will have a substantial presence on television and radio in every critical state.

Andy Stern stated, "Barack Obama is creating the broadest and deepest coalition of voters we’ve ever seen."

Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of SEIU and chair of the Change to Win federation of unions that includes SEIU, said[3];

“This is one of the most important presidential elections workers have faced. Families are struggling, we’re fighting two wars, and a majority of Americans are now worried that their children will be worse off than they are. Obama is the right person at the right time to lead the change we so desperately need in our country.”

References

ACORN.png

President Barack Obama's involvement with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now and its voter regestration arm, Project Vote and allied organization Demos.

ACORN

Obama acorn.jpg

Obama's affiliation with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, began in the early 1990s.

In 1995, former Illinois Republican Governor Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal "Motor Voter" law, which Republicans argued could invite fraud and which some Republicans feared could swell the ranks of Democratic voters.

The law mandated people be allowed to register to vote in government offices such as driver's license renewal centers.

Obama sued on behalf of ACORN, the League of Women Voters and other public-interest groups joined in.

"He and his client were the ones who filed the original case -- they blazed the trail," said Paul Mollica, who represented the League.

Transcripts show that at court hearings, Obama identified himself, then let Mollica begin speaking. Maria Valdez of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund sometimes spoke. The U.S. Justice Department joined in.

Obama's side won, even without him talking.

"Obama was involved to some extent in the legal work, but he was not the leader in actually litigating the thing -- Paul [Mollica] probably was the leader of the coalition and did most of the legal work," said David Melton, who represented Cook County Clerk David Orr. "Obama did have some expertise in certain constitutional aspects of the case."[1]

In the video below left, Deepak Bhargava opens the Heartland Democratic Presidential Forum December 10 2007 - a forum exclusively for thousands of "community organizers" including ACORN personnel.

Obama promises to invite community organizers to the White House even before his inauguration, to contribute to setting his "agenda for change".

Project Vote

Project Vote was and still is, the voter registration arm of ACORN.

Article in Chicago Magazine January 1993, focused on Barack Obama's work with project vote and specualed he he might go on to higher things[2].

A huge black turnout in November 1992 altered Chicago's electoral landscape-and raised a new political star: a 31-year-old lawyer named Barack Obama...
The most effective minority voter registration drive in memory was the result of careful handiwork by Project Vote!, the local chapter of a not-for-profit national organization. "It was the most efficient campaign I have seen in my 20 years in politics," says Sam Burrell, alderman of the West Side's 29th Ward and a veteran of many registration drives.
At the head of this effort was a little-known 31-year-old African-American lawyer, community organizer, and writer: Barack Obama...In 1984, after Columbia but before Harvard, Obama moved to Chicago. "I came because of Harold Washington," he says. "I wanted to do community organizing, and I couldn't think of a better city than one as energized and hopeful as Chicago was then."
Obama at Heartland Forum December 10 2007
By 1991, when Obama, law degree in hand, returned to Chicago...black voter registration and turnout in the city were at their lowest points since record keeping began.
Project vote.JPG
Six months after he took the helm of Chicago's Project Vote!, those conditions had been reversed...Within a few months, Obama, a tall, affable workaholic, had recruited staff and volunteers from black churches, community groups, and politicians.
He helped train 700 deputy registrars, out of a total of 11,000 citywide. And he began a saturation media campaign with the help of black-owned Brainstorm Communications...The group's slogan-"It's a Power Thing"-was ubiquitous in African-American neighborhoods. "It was overwhelming," says Joseph Gardner, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the director of the steering committee for Project Vote! "The black community in this city had not been so energized and so single-minded since Harold died."
"I think it's fair to say we reinvigorated a slumbering constituency," says Obama. "We got people to take notice."
As for Project Vote! itself, its operations in Chicago have officially closed down. Barack Obama has returned to work on his book, which he plans to complete this month..."We won't let the momentum die," he says. "I'll take personal responsibility for that. We plan to hold politicians' feet to the flames in 1993, to remind them that we can produce a bloc of voters large enough that it cannot be ignored."
Nor can Obama himself be ignored. The success of the voter-registration drive has marked him as the political star the Mayor should perhaps be watching for. "The sky's the limit for Barack," says Burrell.
Some of Daley's closest advisers are similarly impressed. "In its technical demands, a voter-registration drive is not unlike a mini-political campaign," says John Schmidt, chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and a fundraiser for Project Vote! "Barack ran this superbly. I have no doubt he could run an equally good political campaign if that's what he decided to do next."
Obama shrugs off the possibility of running for office. "Who knows?" he says. "But probably not immediately." He smiles.

Project Vote political connections

During Project Vote, Obama met many of Chicago’s liberal fund-raisers. According to David Axelrod:

“He met people not just in the African-American community but in the progressive white community...The folks who funded Project Vote were some of the key progressive leaders.

Obama met Axelrod through one of Project Vote’s supporters, Bettylu Saltzman, whose father, Philip Klutznick, was a Chicago shopping-mall tycoon, a part owner of the Bulls, and a former Commerce Secretary in the Carter Administration. Saltzman, a soft-spoken activist who worked for Senators Adlai Stevenson III andPaul Simon, took a strong interest in Obama.[3]

“I honestly don’t remember what it was about him, but I was absolutely blown away...I said to several people that this guy, who is now thirty years old, is someday going to be President. He will be our first black President.”

Demos, Barack Obama connection

Washington DC based "think tank" Demos was founded in 1999 by "social entrepeneur" Charles Halpern. Most of Halpern's recruits to Demos were well known politicians or activist such David Callahan, Rob Fersh, Stephen Heintz, Sara Horowitz, Arnie Miller, David Skaggs, Linda Tarr-Whelan. Why did Halpern recruit a then obscure State Senator from Illinois named Barack Obama to help him[4].

By 1999, Halpern had assembled a talented working group to develop Demos. Among them were David Callahan, a fellow at the Century Foundation; Rob Fersh, a long-time policy advocate; Stephen Heintz, Vice-President of the East-West Institute; Sara Horowitz, founder of Working Today; Arnie Miller, a leading executive recruiter; Barack Obama, then a state senator from Illinois; David Skaggs, a congressman from Colorado; and Linda Tarr-Whelan, an internationally recognized expert on women and economic development. This working group would eventually form the core of Demos' staff and Board of Trustees.

Demos/ACORN/Project Vote

Rapoport defending ACORN, October 14, 2008
2005 report on Demos/ACORN/Project Vote motor registration project

Demos has worked extremely closely with ACORN and its voter registration wing Project Vote on several projects.

In 2008 Demos Fellow Lorraine Minnite served on the Project Vote board of directors.[5]

Demos President Miles Rapoport was one of ACORN's most ardent defenders when the organization was accused of widespread voter registration fraud during the 2008 election.

References

Organizing in Chicago

As a community organizer, Obama tried to turn a partnership of churches into a political force on the South Side. But he accomplished little.[1]

When I started organizing, I understood the idea of social change in a very abstract way...It was to some extent informed by my years in Indonesia, seeing extreme poverty and disparities of wealth and understanding sort of in a dim way that life wasn’t fair and government had something to do with it. I understood the role that issues like race played and took inspiration from the civil-rights movement and what the student sit-ins had accomplished and the freedom rides.
But I didn’t come out of a political family, didn’t have a history of activism in my family. So I understood these things in the abstract. When I went to Chicago, it was the first time that I had the opportunity to test out my ideas. And for the most part I would say I wasn’t wildly successful. The victories that we achieved were extraordinarily modest: you know, getting a job-training site set up or getting an after-school program for young people put in place.

Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland

In 1993, after finishing work with Project Vote, Obama took a job at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a boutique civil-rights firm led by Judson Miner, formerly counsel to Harold Washington.

Miner had perfect anti-Daley credentials, routinely filing lawsuits against the city, and was a founding member of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, which was to Chicago’s legal élite what the Independents were to the Democratic machine.

Working at Davis, Miner enhanced Obama’s profile. “When you go work for Judd Miner’s law firm, that’s another kind of political statement,” says Don Rose, a longtime Chicago political consultant.[2]

Obama was cautious about joining his law firm. According to Miner it took “a series of lunches” and hours of discussion before Obama made his decision.[2]

Annenberg Challenge

In 1995 Obama was the founding President of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1995–1999. According to CNS news, during that time[3];

As chairman, Obama oversaw the disbursement of $49.2 million in Annenberg grants, most of which went to non-profit groups with the stated intent of improving Chicago’s public schools.
Since the start of his political career, Obama has received a total of $331,528 in campaign contributions from people who served as staff and board members of non-profit groups that received grants from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC).
In 2005 and 2006, board members and staff of non-profit groups that had received grants from CAC gave another $34,500 to the Hope Fund, Obama’s federal political action committee.
A review of publicly available IRS 990 forms for the years 1998 through 2002, shows that Annenberg grants went to 94 different projects during that period. The CAC grants required a 2-1 match, with the other two parts coming from other public and private sources, so a total of $147 million in grants were made as consequence of the CAC program over its 6-year lifespan, although only $49.2 million was issued directly by the CAC to grant recipients.
Through the course of Obama’s political career, 91 people who served at some time as staff or a board member for one of the groups that received CAC money also contributed money at some time to one of Obama’s political campaigns, which include his runs for the state Senate, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Senate and the presidency.

COFI

Community Organizing and Family Issues is a Chicago based non-profit. COFI Sponsoring Committee -1994-95 members included Pastor Alvin Bergh, Lina Cramer, Barbara Engel, Jacky Grimshaw, Anne Hallett, Judy Hertz, Maria Mangual, Della Mitchell, Barack Obama, Elce Redmond, Amanda Rivera, Mary Scott-Boria, John Schmidt, Coretta McFerron, Kaye Wilson, Ellen Schumer, Founding Director and President, Nancy Aardema, Founding Vice-President, Sandra O’Donnell, Founding Vice-President[4].

IVI-IPO

In 2003, both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama were members of Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization[5];

The organisation endorsed Obama during his 2004 U.S. Senate race

Independent Voters of Illinois was set up to campaign for endorsed candidates-especially "progressive" candidates. w

The government took an interest in IVI as far back as 1944, over quite justified allegations of communist infiltration[6].

In 1944 the FBI prepared a more extensive intelligence report on an active political group, the Independent Voters of Illinois, apparently because it was the target of Communist "infiltration." The Independent Voters group was reported to have been formed;
"...for the purpose of developing neighborhood political units to help in the re-election of President Roosevelt and the election of progressive congressmen. Apparently, IVI endorsed or aided Democrats for the most part, although it was stated to be "independent."

Prominent IVI and later IVI-IPO activists included Communist Party USA member Milton Cohen, and Socialist Party USA members Timuel Black Saul Mendelson.

In July 2004 IVI-IPO celebrated its 60th anniversary. Members of the event committee included[7];

Democratic Socialists of America and Committees of Correspondence member Timuel Black, Socialist Party USA veteran Leon Despres DSA and Progressives for Obama member Betty Willhoite, David Orr, Carol Moseley Braun, one time Communist Party USA member David Canter and Barack Obama.

References