DSA Convention: "Coming Out Swinging in the Age of Obama"

By Duane Campbell

The 2013 DSA convention held in Emeryville, Cal. Oct. 25-27 brought together socialists from all areas of the country to build mutual support, solidarity and motivation to continue the activism needed in these difficult times. 

The Friday convention plenary began with reports from Maria Svart, our national director, as well as members of the National Political Committee and co-chairs of the Young Democratic Socialists, plus presentations on the politics of the current situation by Honorary Chair Gus Newport and Michael Lighty, political director of National Nurses United and former DSA national director.

The East Bay local chapter hosted a packed house of delegates and Bay Area supporters for a public event featuring rousing speeches by writer John Nichols, organizer Steve Williams and Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, followed by the local hip-hop artist Mario de Mira aka Nomi of Power Struggle. The Saturday banquet was addressed by David Bacon, author of The Right to Stay Home: How U.S. Policy Drives Mexican Migration(2013); SDS founder and prolific author Tom Hayden; and political comedian Nato Green.Maria_Svart.jpg

Photo: Maria Svart

David_Bacon.jpgThe NPC had set as a goal for the convention to initiate a two-year, grassroots member discussion of an updated political strategy for DSA, including  revising or replacing Building the Next Left-The Political Perspective of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Photo: David Bacon 

Delegates and observers benefited from an impressive and diverse series of speakers and workshop leaders, including former national YDS chair Angie Fa; immigrant rights activist Alma Lopez; director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute Clayborne Carson; worker-owner and cooperative association board member Jenn Shepard, and many in the volunteer leadership of DSA.  The speakers, along with dialogue in workshops, hallways -- and the usually malfunctioning elevators – enriched the delegates’ discussion.

Personal sharing and exchanges at the convention strengthened our work by humanizing our activism.  We learn from each other.  Email, internet exchanges, and those painful conference calls can at times lead to divisions, while working together provides needed support for community building and to keep our energy and enthusiasm for the long haul to advance democracy and socialism in the U.S.

Resolutions on our national priorities for the next two years and on the need to defend voting rights were passed after some healthy debate, and will soon be posted on this website.

Finally, the new National Political Committee was elected:

Jared Abbott, Philadelphia

Theresa Alt, Ithaca

David Duhalde, Boston

Stuart Elliott, Wichita

Amber A’Lee Frost, New York City

Paul Garver, Boston

David Green, Detroit

José Gutierrez, Washington, D.C.

Barbara Joye, Atlanta

Simone Morgen, Columbus

Maxine Phillips, New York City

David Roddy, Sacramento

Joseph Schwartz, Philadelphia

Peg Strobel, Chicago

Alexandra Deane and Matthew Porter, Young Democratic Socialists Co-chairs

 

DuaneC.jpgDuane Campbell is the Chair of Sacramento DSA.

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Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 50 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 17 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 11 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.