Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America

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Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America was re-established, circa 2006, largely due to the work of Milt Tambor, a "recently transplanted AFSCME union officer from Detroit who has utilized his considerable organizing skills to recreate a DSA local firmly linked to the labor and civil rights’ movements."[1]

Following an organizational meeting in January 2006, fifteen Atlanta DSA members petitioned the National Political Committee for a local charter covering the Metropolitan Atlanta Area. We formed a steering committee, adopted bylaws, and held monthly meetings. At those meetings, speakers discussed such issues as single-payer health care, environmental justice, and immigrant rights. We also contacted several DSAers who had been active in the Atlanta local in the 1980s.[2]

MADSA Working Groups, 2019

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America working groups April 2019.

2018 leadership

As of September 2018, the current executive committee members are:

Congratulations to the newly elected Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America officers!

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Members at large:

Personnel changes 2019

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America Chair Erin Parks led the March membership meeting, with help from Resolutions and Elections Working Group Chair Jen Garcia for items requiring votes.

The group elected Catie L. to be their third harassment and grievance officer, along with Anaia Jolie and Rachel Kahn .

Some leadership spots had opened. The officers appointed Jose Perez interim treasurer following Speck’s resignation. Gregory McKelvey became Membership Secretary following Lisa Ashway’s decision to concentrate on working group functions instead, leaving his at-large officer position open. Alexander Hernandez also stepped down from an at-large slot due to greatly increased travel at his job. José nominated Eric Robertson for one of the at-large positions. Q Benford presenting. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins


Starting a new tradition of including a brief political education presentation at each of our general meetings, our new Communications Secretary Quentin Benford spoke on the definition of democratic socialism In the discussion which followed, Benford said members expressed great interest in “how to combat propaganda, how to convey our vision to people who are on the other side, and generally what to say to people in those crucial interpersonal moments.”

Evan Seeds will head up “Air Bread and Roses,” to plan housing solidarity for delegates who can’t afford the hotel (more info at our April meeting). Catie L. will lead a committee to research and produce two information pieces for delegates: A handout on places near the hotel where they can “eat, drink and be Marxist”, and a “people’s radical history tour” of Atlanta sites (thanks to GSU history prof and long-time MADSA member Ian Fletcher for offering to help). Wendell Bohannan will lead a group to hold a social and fundraising event on the Friday night of the convention. they are already exploring an exciting possibility.[6]

2018 Working Groups

  • Accessibility Purpose: Working to make MADSA spaces and the metro area accessible to all. Contact: Jeff R
  • Afrosocialists Purpose: Creating socialist spaces that speak to people of color. Contact: Erin Parks
  • Digital Systems Purpose: Establishing and maintaining internal digital systems. Contact: Evan Seeds
  • Ecosocialism Purpose: Education on ecological issues and direct around climate change. Contact: David Hoffman
  • Education Purpose: Socialist education. Contact: Josh Tuccio
  • Electoral Purpose: Building direct political power in our local and national community. Contact: Jose Perez
  • FeministPurpose: Bringing a feminist lens to our internal workings, feminist education and reproductive rights. Contact:
  • Healthcare (Medicare 4 All) Purpose: Promoting a socialist solution to the healthcare crisis. Contact: Lisa Ashway
  • Mutual Aid Purpose: Direct-service projects and initiatives, such as our brake light clinics. Contact: Jeb Boone
  • Rainbow Roses Purpose: Create Queer and LGBTQIA community while exploring our intersections with socialism. Contact:
  • Immigrant Justice Purpose: Plan and coordinate actions to demand justice for immigrants and their communities in the US and abroad. Contact: Alexander Hernandez[7]

Democratic Party

In 2017 Jeff Corkill, seeing fascism and white supremacy on the rise due to the election of 45 and recognizing that the DNC held as much blame for this outcome as bigotry did by undemocratically pushing a toxic and unpopular candidate with no hopes of winning on the American electorate, decided he must try to change the Democratic Party from within.

So I showed up one December night to a meeting of the DeKalb County Democratic Party that was even more dysfunctional and unorganized than I had expected. Luckily, I was not alone in recognizing the crisis taking place within the Democratic Party. Amid the throngs of desperate yet determined citizens were two comrades who, with myself and others, would spend the next two years trying to turn what had become a dysfunctional social club into an organization that could fight against fascism in DeKalb Co., Georgia, and at the national level.
While it sometimes felt like our efforts were as effective as banging our heads against the wall to affect change, the three of us quickly worked our way onto the Steering Committee, the executive body, of the county party and tirelessly worked to create a functional party that would both represent and be able to fight for the progressive views of the people and not the elitist views of the party leaders of the DPG and DNC. Two years later we are starting to see our hard work paying off. Not only were we recently able to unseat Republicans from various GA State House and Senate seats which they had held for years, as well as flipping Newt Gringrich’s old seat in the 6th Congressional District, we did so by first defeating centrist Democrats in many of the primaries, proving that left and progressive policies and candidates are better able to defeat Republicans than milquetoast, centrist liberals are.
Then last night another victory came for socialism within the Democratic Party. The DeKalb Democratic Party elected the two comrades I mentioned above, DSA member Karen Mixon (who was also elected in December as 1st vice chair of DeKalb Democrats) and Metro Atlanta DSA Chair Erin Parks, to the Democratic Party of Georgia State Committee. This was after a rousing speech given by comrade Erin telling those present that the Democratic Party needed us socialists and our policies to remain a viable party and to continue our victories against the increasingly fascist Republican Party. This is a huge victory because it is the State Committee that will be writing the party platform for the DPG along with its other duties. We will now have voices within the DPG to push for a party platform that will reflect our values through policies such as Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, green energy, and significant criminal justice reform, to name only a few. While there is no guarantee that we will achieve all that we want to in the immediate future, one thing is certain; the Democratic Party of Georgia will not be able to ignore the socialist voices in its midst. We will be heard and we will win. Solidarity Forever![8]

Backing Stacey Abrams

From Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America September 2018 EQUALITY:

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Brian Kemp must not be governor. The Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America stand in solidarity with our fellow Georgians against the government that we have been promised under four more years of Republican leadership. We stand with the workers who work harder than any of the wealthy elite in our state. We stand with those who continue to suffer under white supremacy in the state.

We stand with those who braved unspeakable odds to immigrate here for a better life. We stand in solidarity with every- day Georgians who just want a decent home near the people they care about, a living-wage job with dignity and meaning, and the ability to create a better future for their children.
We stand with all of these working families who want Stacey Abrams to be the next governor of this state. For many reasons, we cannot endorse Abrams ourselves, but neither can we stand aside while our friends and allies fight for something they know will make their lives better. We voted to encourage our members, if they feel so moved, to stand up and fight in this election cycle.
Whether it be for a campaign, registering voters, or work against voter suppression, we will support our members in their efforts. After this election, we will be working tirelessly to hold whoever wins accountable to the people of Georgia. They are there to serve us, not multinational corporations or their friends in business.
We will also be developing and running our own candidates for office—candidates who will run with or without the blessing of the Democratic Party and will stand in opposition to the elite neoliberal capitalist establishment. We will also build working-class power through independent organizations that will always put the people over parties.
First go vote, then come fight![9]

March for Life

March 2018, several Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America members turned out to support the Grady H.S. students who walked out as part of the nation-wide protest demanding effective gun control legislation in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre. It seemed that the whole school, including teachers and the principal, participated in the demonstration, which they held in the Grady sports stadium. After a moment of silence a few students gave brief, eloquent speeches and then the whole group marched around the track a few times before returning to classes, well beyond the announced 17 minutes. Barbara Joye, Reid Jenkins, Evan Seed, Lisa Ashway, Lorraine Fontana, Cecelia Cantrell and Ann Mauney were there from MADSA; Cecelia Cantrell, Lorraine Fontana, Ann Mauney and Barbara Joye were also members of Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, which had brought many of the supporters.[10]

Afro-Socialists Black Power Bowl

The Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America Afro-Socialists' first event, the Black Power Bowl, drew this great crowd to a get-together at the Phillip Rush Center, Feb. 4. 2018. Attendees included South Fulton Councilman Khalid Kamau; MADSA officer Erin Parks; BLM and Rise Up activist Dawn O'Neal; attorney and Atlanta NAACP Vice-President Gerald Griggs; attorney and political commentator Anoa Changa; and representatives of several other organizations, educators, and small business owners. The group came together for a moment of fellowship and trivia fun. Councilman khalid explained on FB: "#SuperBowl quarterback with a multimillion-dollar #NFL contract, took a knee — not just for a game, but an entire season — and brought a national conversation about police brutality and the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the homes of Americans desperate to avoid it. And when the NFL, in retaliation, stripped him of his career, it sparked an #NFLBoycott that cost the league 2 MILLION viewers. Around the country, #NFLBlackOut parties & protests are creating networks of new activists."[11]

New leadership

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America new officers elected at Sept. 16, 2017 membership meeting They were: Chair - Adam Cardo; Membership Secretary - Michael Lavender; Recording Secretary - Jeb Boone; Treasurer - Seth Ellingson; At-large (3) - Anat Fintzi, Erin Parks, Eric Robertson. [12]

Campaigning for Fort

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Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America, was out campaigning for Vincent Fort on October 16, 2017.

With Nate Knauf, Larry Pellegrini, Matthew Golden, River Grana, Megan Harrison, Krupesh Patel, Heather Marie Laveau, Josh Tuccio, Aaron Thorpe, Patrick Guinn, Matthew Wolfsen, Tyler Daws, Daniel Hanley, Barbara Landay, Bob Wohlheuter and Barbara Joye.

Sanders fundraiser

One of Atlanta DSA's first actions was a fundraiser for Senate candidate Bernie Sanders. . At the same time, there was some reluctance to take on an assignment that would be too difficult and demanding. DSA nationalleadership provided the necessary assistance to facilitate planning, with DSA PAC house-party organizing kits that included program suggestions and time lines for organizing the event. The locals drafted sample invitation and contribution forms, and DSA local representatives who were planning fundraisers in their own cities shared useful information in telephone conferences.

A DSAer and faculty member at the Emory School of Medicine with many ties to Atlanta’s "progressive community", Henry Kahn, accepted the invitation to co-host. Two other community leaders – an attorney and former city council member, John Sweet, and the president of the North Georgia-Atlanta Labor Council, Charlie Flemming – had worked together in past political campaigns and agreed to co-host as well. John and Midge Sweet offered to host the Sunday afternoon party at their home, a gathering place for progressive activists. The three co-hosts signed the letter of invitation that would be sent out four to six weeks before the meeting. The Atlanta DSA local PAC consisted of six members – Jeff Bragg, Kempton Haynes, Barbara Joye, Norm Markel, Austin Wattles, and Milt Tambor.

We began by compiling a list of invitees– DSA members, friends, names submitted by John Sweet, and a PAC member active with Atlanta’s alternative radio station. That list, however, was limited to only 125names. This changed quickly when we were able to secure from the Sanders campaign a list of 500 Georgia contributors – two thirds living in the Atlanta area.

The program for the party included Frank Hamilton – formerly of The Weavers – and Mary Hamilton who agreed to entertain with folk music free of charge. Following the entertainment, Sanders, who was to attend a Detroit DSA fundraiser that same afternoon, would call in. The fundraising and collecting of checks then followed.

The party raised over $3,000. The grand total, including checks received in the mail, reached $5,200 from seventy individual donors.

Beyond raising the $5,200, Atlanta DSA realized other benefits. They signed up several new members, our mailing list grew by fifty names, and, at a meeting following the party, we had our highest turnout. The fundraiser has set the stage for Atlanta DSA to become a serious player in the progressive community. We also feel proud that we were able to contribute to DSA PAC’s national effort to raise $50,000 for Bernie’s campaign.[13]

2008 officers

2008 election

DSA members in Atlanta worked separately with a variety of organizations on various aspects of the presidential and senatorial elections: canvassing with the Democratic Party, phone banking with the North Georgia Labor Council and True Majority, registering voters with Women’s Action for New Directions, dropping banners on expressway overpasses, and helping the NAACP monitor the voting process.

“The experience was good,” says Carol Coney, a poll monitor. “If I hadn’t been there when polls opened at 7 a.m. to report that the computers were all down, who knows how long it would have taken to get them on line? I had Election Protection at that precinct within 20 minutes. It was good teamwork, and I felt good that the computers were only down for the first hour.” Unfortunately, even with our help, neither Obama nor the liberal senatorial candidate Jim Martin – who could have helped the Democrats achieve a filibuster-proof majority – were able to overcome the superior Republican organization in the state. Jorge (Jorge A. Lawton) traveled twice to North Carolina during the primaries to organize Latino voter registration in Winston Salem and Charlotte and help deliver votes that proved key to the Obama campaign and later the governor’s and senatorial races in that state..”[15]

2011 DSA National Conference

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America delegates attending the November 11-13, 2011 National Convention in the Washington DC area included Barbara Joye, Jorge A. Lawton, Minnie Ruffin, Milt Tambor and Bob Wohlheuter.[16]

2012 officers

2012 officers of Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America were Marcia Borowski, Barbara Joye, Barbara Landay, Norm Markel, Ray Miklethun, Barbara Segal and webmaster Bob Wohlheuter. Adam Shapiro died during the year.[17]

MLK Day Parade: DSA and Georgia for Bernie

Atlanta Monday 18 January 2016, MLK Day Parade: "DSA and Georgia for Bernie Contingent" organized by Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America

Those indicating intention to attend on Wherevent included Kelly Rhyne, Scott Darce, Angela Noel, Julian Harden, Julius John Hayden III, Erica Darragh, Mazlum Koșma, Kylee Reed Fulton, Dougie Hanson, Nick Langley, Daniel Hanley, Lamarcus Davis, Josh Thurmond, Barbara Segal, Melissa O'Shields, Adam Leonard, Adam Joseph Cardo, Steve Wise, Mandie Turner Mitchell, Asher Emmanuel, Tim Franzen, Joshua Collins, Jamie Mize, Rebekah Joy, Josh Martin, Steve Gill, Michelle Jones, Shelley Elise Berlin, Caroline Mask, Adriana Barros-Woodward, Debra Poss, Glenda Arrington Poindexter, Denise Woodall, Peggy Stentz Casey, Arletta Faheemah Saafir, Barbara Joye, Beth Ensign.[18]

DSA Street marchers

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America marching October 2015. ·

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With Rebekah Joy, Daniel Hanley, Keith Beaver, Nina Dutton, Barbara Joye, Adam Joseph Cardo, Leon Clymore, Bob Caine, Travis Reid and Scott Brown, Hope Adair, Brandon Payton-Carrillo Bob Wohlheuter, Steve Gill.

National Conference delegates

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America elected a full slate of 13 delegates and 2 alternates to represent the group in August 2017 at the Democratic Socialists of America's National Convention! The delegates: Jeb Boone, Adam Cardo, Scott Douglas, Anat Fintzi, Chad Floyd, Daniel Hanley, Barbara Joye, Brad Lathem, Erin Parks, Eric Robertson, Maxwell Ruppersburg, Ron Spears, and Matthew Wolfsen, and alternates Reid Jenkins and Tom Ladendorf.[19]

Michael Lavender and Eric Robertson were also delegates.[20]

Peoples Summit delegates

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Metro Atlanta Democratic DSA joined incredible activists and friends from Our Revolution Georgia and United Students Against Sweatshops at the The People's Summit 2017 this weekend! We strengthened our bonds with coalition partners around the country, articulated a positive platform for human rights -- beyond the resistance -- and attended trainings and workshops for movement organizers. — with Michelle Sanchez Jones, Anoa J. Changa, Emmanuel Morrell, Susana Duran Perez, JT Pennington, Erin Parks, Scott Brown, Daniel Hanley and Adam Cardo.

Eat, Drink, & Be Marxist

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Eat, Drink, & Be Marxist. Hosted by Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America.

Friday, April 21 at 7 PM - 10 PM EDT

Georgia Beer Garden, 420 Edgewood Ave SE, Atlanta, Georgia 30312.

Invited on Facebook

Interested

Going

ABCs of Socialism

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ABCs of Socialism: Identity and Intersectionality: Hosted by Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America

Saturday, March 4 at 2 PM - 4 PM EST

The Central Library 1 Margaret Mitchell Sq NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Invited on Facebook

Interested

Went

Rainbow Roses Atlanta

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Rainbow Roses Atlanta Closed Facebook Group, as of April 28, 2018;

Admins and Moderators

Members

More names were added by June 3, 2018;

Facebook discussion group

Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America Closed Facebook group, as of April 2017;

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Discussion group for the Democratic Socialists of America—Metro Atlanta chapter. Orienting new members, coordinating Facebook outreach, and organizing, organizing, organizing![22]

Admin Scott Douglas

Members

By September 23 2017, the group had almost tripled in size.

More members had been added by April 27 2018;

References