Sue Purrington

Political activist, feminist, Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner honoree and erstwhile DSA member has died. As mentioned in the obituary, Purrington received the award in 1992 along with Dr. Quentin Young. Vicky Starr, Michael Lighty, Clara Day, Dr. Ron Sable, and Jose LaLuz also were on the program that year. Her award reads:

We honor you as a career fighter for women’s rights and equality.

You have been steadfast in your belief that discrimination against all people had to end.

Under your leadership, the Chicago Chapter of NOW has been able to represent the interests of women in all walks of life. You and NOW have led in battling for women’s right of choice against the vicious attacks of those fanatic forces who want to reverse Roe v. Wade, including the Bush Administration and its Supreme Court.

You helped make the recent March on Washington for Choice the largest demonstration in our country’s history. It was a wonderful spectacle of dedication to a righteous cause.

You were instrumental in persuading Carol Moseley Braun to start her campaign to become Senator from Illinois then you produced votes to back up your pledge of support.

You have always supported labor unions’ good fights.

For your dedication to the fight for true equality, the Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner Committee hereby presents to you its annual award this First Day of May, 1992.


The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan

Recorded 11.03.2016 — Chicago DSA’s Aaron Armitage interviews Cecily McMillan on her memoir. McMillan is a DSA activist who had been involved in the Wisconsin protests against Governor Scott Walker and in Occupy Wall Street. In an almost accidental connection with Occupy, she was arrested under dubious circumstances for assaulting a police officer, convicted, and sentenced to Rikers Island.

This interview explores the intersection of the personal and the political. In particular, McMillan describes growing up in an isolated rural Texas town, her dawning awareness of a larger world that leads to a continuing reassessment of her sense of identity. McMillan and Armitage discuss the Walker protests and Occupy Wall Street: It’s good, bad, and inadequate aspects.

In the end, many of the problems facing the poor and marginalized end up being regarded as personal problems. But, as McMillan notes at the end, “if it becomes personal, there is no language to deal with it.”

To listen to this episode, use the audio player below

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MP3 (34.3 MB) or OGG VORBIS (45.4 MB) (35:45)


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On Sunday, November 6, McMillan did a book talk at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. The talk was hosted by Maya Schenwar, editor-in-chief at Truthout. The book talk was co-sponsored by the Chicago City Branch of CDSA, with partial financing from the Local.

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Timuel BlackTimuel Black

will be among the honorees to be inducted into the Illinois Labor History Society’s “Union Hall of Honor” this year, the others being Milton McDaniel; Elwood Flowers, Sr.; and Elcosie Gresham. The theme of this year’s event is “Illinois Labor and the Great Migration: 100 Years.” To be held Friday, December 2nd, at Local 399 Operating Engineers Hall, you can find more information HERE.

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Ron Baiman

Did you take a class in economics? Could be high school, could be college; it doesn’t matter. What’s the one thing you’re most likely to remember? “Supply and demand.” What people often forget or don’t know: Most of the subsequent classes teach the various ways in which it ain’t necessarily so. Ron Baiman’s latest book, Ghost Curve Ideology and the Value Neutral Aspect of Neoclassical Economics, takes a hammer to the concept, proposes alternatives and, furthermore, asserts that claims of neoclassical economics as value neutral are not just untrue but have contributed to many of the public policy disasters we’re suffering through today.

Baiman appeared most recently on Chicago DSA’s Talkin’ Socialism in January of 2016. He and Bill Barclay discussed whether the aftermath of the “Great Recession” is the “Great Stagnation”.

William Pelz

Historian William Pelz has a new book that brings the spirit of Howard Zinn to European history: A People’s History of Modern Europe. “From the monarchical terror of the Middle Ages to the mangled Europe of the twenty-first century, A People’s History of Modern Europe tracks the history of the continent through the deeds of those whom mainstream history tries to forget.” You can watch Pelz’ discussion of the book HERE.

Pelz was interviewed on Talkin’ Socialism in June of 2015 on the occasion of a re-issue of an earlier book, Eugene V. Debs Reader: Socialism and the Class Struggle.

Margaret Power

Historian Margaret Power was interviewed on Talkin’ Socialism in November of 2015 about her forthcoming book (co-authored with Timothy Kelly and Michael Cary), Hope in Hard Times: Norvelt and the Struggle for Community During the Great Depression. As day follows night, the book has been issued by Penn State University Press.

Norvelt, a town in western Pennsylvania named for EleaNOR RooeVELT, was established as part of a New Deal program to create about 100 new towns, removing destitute families from desperate urban industrialism to a Jeffersonian cooperative community. The book examines a “still-unfolding narrative of transformation in one Pennsylvania town, and the struggles and successes of its original residents against the backdrop of one of the most ambitious federal endeavors in United States history.”

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Timuel Black

DSA member Timuel Black will be among the honorees at the Metropolitan Tenants Organization’s annual spring event. Appropriately, this year’s theme is “Fifty Years After Freedom Summer / And the Fight Goes On.” The event will be on Tuesday, May 10, 6 PM at Revolution Brewing, 2323 N. Milwaukee in Chicago. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Bogdan Denitch

Bogdan Denitch was a major organizer of what is now DSA though he had been spending the majority of the past few decades in Croatia. He died on March 28. Ian Williams has remembrance at The Nation. Jo-Ann Mort has a memorial essay at Dissent. Harold Meyerson also has a memorial essay at Dissent. And as Denitch was on the publication’s Editorial Board, Dissent also posted a bibliography of his articles. The Socialist International posted a memoriam at its web site.

Dr. Quentin Young

by Bob Roman

If you live in the Chicago area or if you’re in any way involved in the ongoing struggle to bring about a universal health care system here in the States, you have got to have heard that Dr. Young has died at the age of 92. For the details of his political career (which frequently intersected with his medical career), consult any of the obituaries published in Chicago media. I’ll only add that in the fight for universal health care, Dr. Young was a pleasure to work with, he was a DSA member, and he was, along with Sue Purrington, our 1992 Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner honoree:

Dr. Quentin Young
Dr. Young at the 1992 Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner

Quentin Young

We honor you because for decades you have been in the forefront of the campaign for universal and comprehensive health care for all Americans.

Before you graduated from medical school you maintained that health care is a matter of right for all and not just for those who have the means to purchase it or have strong unions that negotiate for it.

As President then Chair of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, you have worked to educate those in the health field that a comprehensive universal single-payer system is to everyone’s advantage. You have ably answered the lies spread against the Canadian system in existence today.

You have been there in the struggles for Civil Rights, for social and economic justice, and against all forms of discrimination. You were there in 1951 to fight against discrimination in Chicago medical institutions. You were there in 1983 for Harold Washington to win the mayoralty. You were there when Carol Moseley Braun announced her intention to run for the U.S. Senate. You have demonstrated your understanding that trade unions are a social force for Progress and Justice in our country.

For you dedication in the fight for universal and comprehensive health care for all and for your lifetime commitment to change our society to the better, the Debs – Thomas – Harrington Dinner Committee hereby presents to you its annual award this First Day of May, 1992.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership: More Thumbs Down

The negotiating process for trade agreements like the TPP includes a Labor Advisory Committee. In early December, that committee issued a report on the recently concluded TPP negotiations:

While the TPP may create some limited opportunities for increased exports, there is an even larger risk that it will increase our trade deficit, which has been a substantial drag on job growth for more than twenty years. Especially at risk are jobs and wages in the auto, aerospace, aluminum and steel, apparel and textile, call center, and electronic and electrical machinery industries. The failure to address currency misalignment, weak rules of origin and inadequate state-owned enterprise provisions, extraordinary rights provided to foreign investors and pharmaceutical companies, the undermining of Buy American, and the inclusion of a labor framework that has proved itself ineffective are key among the TPP’s mistakes that contribute to our conclusion that the certain risks outweigh the TPP’s speculative and limited benefits.

As part of our work to create this report, the LAC reviewed our NAFTA report from more than 20 years ago and the history of trade agreements implemented since that time. What is stunning is that despite the mounting evidence that neoliberal trade and globalization rules do not create shared prosperity and inclusive growth, and despite the fact that some of NAFTA’s biggest supporters, including former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now agree with us that corporate-driven trade doesn’t work for workers, we are essentially having the same debate as we had regarding NAFTA.


Chicago Political Economy Group

The latest issue of CPEG Notes is online. In this issue, Prof. Joseph Persky examines the limping U.S. economy, Mel Rothenberg’s International Note examines the European refugee influx and economic crisis, Ron Baiman talks labor and the fight for $15, Bruce Parry talks trade and the TPP, and finally Bill Barclay dives into high frequency trading and a court case regarding “spoofing”. Download it HERE. (PDF)

Partial Victory at Kohler

The UAW and Kohler in Wisconsin reached an agreement that retains a two-tier wage structure, but radically closes the gap between the tiers. For details, there is a report at The Guardian.


People, us lefties in particular, often claim that Chicago is the most segregated city in the county, and after a time, it comes to seem like a cliche. Is it really true? At least among major metropolitan areas, it most certainly is. And not simply by race but by income as well, according to the Brookings Institute report that you can view HERE.

Green Convention

The Illinois Green Party will be holding its state convention in Chicago on March 5. For more information, CLICK HERE.