by Bob Roman
The 2016 Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner was held Friday evening, May 20, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on Chicago’s near west side. And what an evening it was! The room was packed with maybe no more than 3 empty seats.
The speakers, Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza, Jorge Mújica and Michael Lighty, were all sharp and inspiring. They left no doubt that democratic socialism has become a visible part of U.S. mainstream political discourse where once it was ignored. The brief space available to this account really cannot do justice to their work at this event. We hope to have audio recordings of the event up on the chicagodsa.org web site soon, but courtesy of Alec Hudson, a video of most of the keynote is posted at both the Chicago DSA Local and City of Chicago Branch Facebook pages. Photos of the event are at the Chicago DSA Facebook page. Comedian and DSA member Walker Smith did well as our Master of Ceremonies, and we were privileged to have Michael Miles provide music during the “cocktail hour”. Bill Barclay and Tom Broderick made excellent presentations to the honorees.
The people we had as honorees and as speaker are individuals I respect, like, and admire. This made this particular dinner a pleasure for me to do. Many thanks to Tom Broderick who, besides setting up the literature table and collecting post cards that lobby against the TPP, also kept tabs on seating at the dinner. Thanks to Alec Hudson who helped at the ticket table. Thanks to Alex McLeese who helped set up. Thanks to Ron Baiman for transportation and fiddle accompaniment. Thank you to John Scott and Rita Maniotis for recording the event. And thanks to all those heroes of envelope stuffing and brainstorming.
The activists who began this annual event back in 1958 are mostly gone, but they had to have started it in a spirit of hope, even optimism, that was not always repaid by events. Let’s hope that we can continue this tradition in that same spirit.