Steve Max grew up in New York City. He cut his organizing teeth on the 1958 Youth March for Integrated Schools and was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society . In the late sixties, he turned his attention to electoral organizing and worked on a number of campaigns including those of Eugene McCarthy for President and Bella Abzug for Congress.
In 1973, Max was recruited by Heather Booth to join with her, Paul Booth, and friends from the student movement to create the first Midwest Academy curriculum. Over the last 30 years, Max has overseen improvements on the original core curriculum while maintaining the integrity of the founding principles. He has written the internal training curriculums for the Academy’s largest clients including AARP, US Student Association, American Cancer Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Planned Parenthood.
Max has taken several leaves from Midwest Academy to lead national and statewide issue campaigns to stop oil deregulation, reauthorize Superfund, develop wind power, and stop the privatization of Social Security. Most recently he has worked with USAction and its affiliates in Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
Michael Hirsch was 18 when he first met Doug Ireland in 1963. He was already a moving force in the early Students for a Democratic Society. With Steve Max and Jim Williams, Ireland formed the Political Education Project, an SDS work group that saw political action as doable by the New Left and a necessary adjunct to its ongoing campus, community and civil rights organizing.
In 1975 Steve Max was a member of the West Side chapter New American Movement.He wrote an article with Jim Williams "Strikes and Strike Support", for NAM Discussion Bulletin No. 9, March 1975, which was unpublished, but could be ordered, as a pamphlet from the Midwest Academy.
In June 1972 Jay D. Jurie hitch-hiked to Volo, IL, where New American Movement held "what I believe was its second national gathering, a conference for organizers. I got dropped off at the dirt road leading into the camp were the meeting was to be held. As I walked along, a car stopped and offered me a ride, which I accepted. It was Paul Booth."
Along with his wife, Heather Booth, Bob Creamer and Day Creamer, and Steve Max, Paul Booth was one of those who had put the conference together. Many will recognize it was this same "cast of characters" who later formed the Midwest Academy.
Socialist Scholars Conference
Jo-Ann Mort, Democratic Socialists of America, James Weinstein, Editor, In These Times, Chris Owens, Chair, Paul Robeson Independent Democrats, Steve Max, Midwest Academy and L. Donelle Gladwin, DSA Youth Section were speakers on the The 92' Presidential Election: What's a Democratic Socialist To Do? panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.
DSA Organizing Institute
Over fifty people attended the 1993 DSA Organizing Institute, which was held at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey during the weekend of June 25-27. The centerpiece of the weekend was an intensive series of training sessions, led by Steve Max, Deepak Pateriya, and Christine Riddiough, for DSA activists and organizers. These training sessions, which were based on the organizing methods developed by the Midwest Academy, helped build DSA local and national leaders' skills in developing political strategy, recruiting activists into DSA, and working in coalitions.
The Institute's training sessions were framed by two plenary discussions about DSA's mission. On Friday evening, DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich and DSA Vice Chairs Steve Max and Frances Fox Piven discussed the contemporary political climate and the most effective roles for a democratic socialist organization. On Sunday morning, National Political Committee member Jack Clark, DSA Youth Organizer Ginny Coughlin, and DSA National Director Michael Lighty spoke more concretely about how DSA can work to become a highly visible organization projecting a compelling political vision.
Campaign for America's Future
In August 2004, Young Democratic Socialists, the youth section of Democratic Socialists of America, held a national conference in New York City, "Life After Bush: Youth Activism & the Fight for Our Future". Speakers included;
- Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers, who led a well-received presentation on democratic socialism.
- John Mason, a Patterson University professor and London Tribune columnist, who offered alternatives to the U.S.-led occupation, observing that the bring the troops home now slogan is insufficient, given the dangers of civil war, Islamic fundamentalism and pervasive insecurity in Iraq.
The Future of Radical Democracy speakers included;
- Steve Max of the Midwest Academy, Princeton professor and DSA
- Cornel West
- Bertha Lewis, Executive Director of New York ACORN and co-chair of the Working Families Party.
Democratic Socialists of America Vice-Chairs in 2009 were;
Democratic Socialists of America Unity
DSA North Star
In 2018 Steve Max was an original signatory of the DSA North Star founding principles statement.
- Midwest Academy, Previous Recipients: Lifetime Achievement Award
- [ http://www.dsausa.org/remembering_doug_ireland, Dem Left,Remembering Doug Ireland: Comrade and Friend, Posted by Michael Hirsch on 11.07.13]
- NAM Disscussion Bulletin No. 9, March 1975, page 104
- A companion to post-1945 America, page 291 By Jean-Christophe Agnew, Roy Rosenzweig
- SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
- Dem. Left July/August 1993, page 8
- CAF Co-Founders
- The Yankee Radical, Nov. 2004