Daniel Hanley and Barbara Segal, among other MADSA members, marched for science with thousands of other Atlantans, April 22.
Khalid kamau, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member and endorsed candidate for City Council in South Fulton, Georgia (center in photo), won in today’s election with 67 percent of the vote. Kamau defeated Charlean Parks, who finished second in the five-way primary race on March 21st. In addition to DSA, he was endorsed by Our Revolution, Teamsters Local 728, and Street Groomers.
“Far too many elected officials start their day thinking of your boss instead of you — but the working people of South Fulton will have a City Council member on their side: khalid kamau,” explained Maria Svart, Democratic Socialists of America's national director. “Khalid’s win today is a tremendous victory for his community and a shot across the bow for politics as usual nationwide.”
Erin Parks, a Metro Atlanta DSA chapter member and kamau campaign volunteer expressed enthusiasm: “Khalid's campaign and victory prove that teamwork and a people-centered platform can prevail against all odds. His win is a harbinger of things to come in the Metro Atlanta progressive movement.”
Khalid is a co-founder of the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter and a labor organizer for the Amalgamated Transit Union. As an active member of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Planning Units, he helped develop a neighborhood watch program and negotiated on behalf of his community in development projects. Khalid is also active in environmental justice and LGBTQ rights advocacy.
Khalid entered today’s runoff election after coming in first place in a five-way primary election held in March with 43%. In that race, khalid won twice as many votes as the next runner up, and the highest percentage of any candidate running for any office in South Fulton. DSA members across the country made thousands of phone calls on behalf of khalid for both rounds of the election.
Khalid is the second DSA member to win local office this month. Dylan Parker was elected to Rock Island, Illinois’ City Council as 5th Ward Alderman on April 4th. There are now 14 DSA members holding public office, including Carlos Rosa, Chicago’s 35th Ward Alderman; Mike Sylvester, of the Maine House of Representatives; and Julie Ann Nitsch, Austin Community College Board of Trustee in Texas.
When I received an email invitation from Gus Cochran inviting me to speak to his April 17 political science class on democratic socialism at Agnes Scott, I jumped at the opportunity. Talking up democratic socialism and the work of DSA would be an experience I could only relish. In my conversation with Gus I learned that the Sanders campaign had prompted him to offer a first-time class on democratic socialism entitled the "Politics of Social Democracy." Gus had begun teaching at Agnes Scott in the 70's and helped bring Michael Harrington to speak at the campus in the early 80's.
The syllabus included readings by Marx, Bernstein and Lenin in a survey of socialism in the first part of the 20th century. In assessing the prospects of democratic socialism in the 21st century, he examined movements in the US - Occupy, Black Lives Matter and the Sandernista political revolution - as well as the alternative left political parties in Europe - Die Linke, Syriza and Podemos. A most pleasant surprise was the inclusion of The ABCs of Socialism (Jacobin) as a key reading.
My presentation revolved around a packet of literature I distributed to the 20 students in class: Isserman's history of the American Left, Cornel West's flier on the alternative to capitalism being socialism, and copies of our own MADSA pamphlet, newsletter and Douglass Debs 2016 program booklet.
The students raised interesting questions: “How does democratic socialism differ from social democracy? How can millennials talk to their parents about democratic socialism? How does the Democratic Socialists of America as an organization relate to the Democratic Party?” A high point of the morning came after class when several students expressed interest in starting a Young Democratic Socialists chapter on their campus.
(Note: Our national office now employs a YDS organizer to help campus groups form chapters of our youth section. See http://www.ydsusa.org/start_a_chapter)
MADSA member Josh Tuccio brought this flag to the Tax Day rally and march April 15, demanding that President Trump release his tax returns. Way to go, Josh!
MADSA and United Students Against Sweatshops member Patricio Cambias was among five people, including four Georgia State U. students, arrested April 10 for sitting in at the GSU president's office. They were demanding a meeting to discuss the Community Benefits Agreement which the Turner Field Benefits Coalition, representing long-established communities neighboring the stadium and in danger of displacement, has presented to the university and the developer for months in vain. For details see the Atlanta Progressive News story. Photo courtesy of APN; Cambias is seated center, in plaid shirt.
The defeat of the Ryan/Trump plan to replace the Affordable Care Act - itself a compromise measure based on Republican Governor Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health insurance program - with something much worse gives progressives a chance to renew our decades-long call for a "single payer" system, also known as "Improved Medicare for All." Bernie Sanders championed single payer during his campaign, and says he will soon propose legislation to that effect. In Atlanta, on April 8, about 150 people rallied in front of Grady Hospital to show their support for this cost-effective and common-sense measure. Above, Dr. Henry Kahn, a MADSA member and Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) activist, addresses the crowd. For more info see healthcare-now.org and pnhp.org. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
Activists from the Atlanta Jobs With Justice and GA J20 coalitions met Thurs. 4/6 at the tent city at 755 Hank Aaron Drive. Turner Field neighbors fighting displacement and supporters from the Housing Justice League and Ga. State U. student groups have been camped out there for some days now despite rain and cold, demanding that the Turner Field developer and GSU sign a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) which the affected communities have been working on since the stadium changed hands (#TentCityATL). (MADSA is a member and/or supporter of all these coalitions and groups.)
The lively meeting of activists moved forward on plans to hold a joint day of action on May Day/International Workers Day on issues ranging from immigrant rights to neighborhood rights to the fight for a $15/hr minimum wage for City of Atlanta workers. The groups will hold a rally in front of City Hall at 11 am on Monday, May 1, then join a City Council meeting scheduled for 1 pm (#MAYDAYATL).
Coalition members will prepare for the May 1 actions with a speak-out/teach-in at 2pm the previous day, Sunday April 30, in Rev. James Orange Park, 1305 Oakland Drive, Atlanta 30310 (everyone welcome!). The program will include a presentation by MADSA about the history of May Day and a reprise of last year's popular theater piece presenting historic heroes and heroines of U.S. labor. See also AtlJwJ.org and previous stories on GA J20 and MADSA's tour of neighborhoods resisting displacement and gentrification.
At our general membership meeting April 1, progressive State Rep. Renitta Shannon (email@example.com) provided a no-fooling rundown of the mostly toxic bills passed by the Ga. General Assembly and currently on Gov. Deal's desk for him to sign into law - or not - within 40 days from March 30. Her clear presentation of the bizarre ways some bills were pushed through and their implications was a wake-up call. Here is a superficial summary of just one example: HB452 (look it up). At the last minute, language from two failed bills was added to HB452 to 1) make many forms of protest while committing a felony "domestic terrorism" and 2) set up a public registry of formerly incarcerated undocumented immigrants who have served their time and still live in Georgia, potentially setting them up as targets for hate crimes.
We also heard reports on current MADSA and allied activities, including our Education and Social Media working groups, the Jacobin reading group, the IBM workers' petition campaign (see story below), and Atlanta Jobs With Justice's May Day/International Workers' Day celebration and action (look for more on May Day soon, plans are evolving). Finally, we formed an important committee to plan the 2017 Douglass-Debs Dinner, our major fundraiser, so that Chair Milt Tambor (in photo at left) can be relieved of his 10-year duties as the lead organizer of this very popular community event. To volunteer contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following the meeting, many of us fought traffic to get downtown just in time to join the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition and the Housing Justice League as they rallied and marched to Turner Field demanding that Ga. State U. sign a community benefits agreement so that residents of adjacent inner city neighborhoods will be assured of "development without displacement." Many marchers set up tents to camp out overnight in front of Turner Field.
Photos by Reid Freeman Jenkins
MADSA member and 10-year IBM employee Daniel Hanley has spearheaded a petition campaign to demand that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty distance herself and the corporation from the Trump administration (and improve certain employee benefits and working conditions). Rometty joined the president's economic council after sending him a letter congratulating him on his election victory and offering to help carry out his programs. This contradicts the corporation's declared values of diversity and tolerance, according to the IBM workers who delivered their petition to the Atlanta headquarters Monday and to the New York City headquarters on Tuesday, with the names of more than 1,000 of their fellow employees.
Hanley, joined by others at all levels of the company, urged that IBM workers support "democracy in the workplace, and resist any collaboration between our CEO and Trump that results in civil liberties violations impacting Muslims, immigrants, people of color, trans people, and other marginalized groups." In Atlanta, Asma Elhuni of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Jovan Julien of Project South spoke for some of the groups potentially affected by IBM's actions, and 10 MADSA members attended the event. (Note: IBM notoriously provided equipment to the German Nazis that helped them create a registry of Jews to be targeted by the Holocaust. Trump during his campaign called for a registry of Muslims in America.) For videos of the petition delivery events, see MADSA's Facebook page. Photo: Reid Freeman Jenkins
On March 25, MADSA co-sponsored our 6th annual bus and study tour of inner-city African American neighborhoods resisting displacement by gentrification and stadium development, together with the Peoplestown Revitalization Corporation, the Housing Justice League, and #ATLisREADY. DSA members, housing justice activists, 14 Georgia Tech students and community leaders visited four neighborhoods that are threatened by corporate interests - with the support of City Hall.
Columbus Ward, president of the Peoplestown organization, who was honored at MADSA's Douglass-Debs awards dinner in November, led the tour, with Tim Franzen of the Housing Justice League and MADSA member and Ga. Tech Prof. Emeritus of Planning Larry Keating (above, standing, third from left). Avery Jackon of #ATLisREADY, Ga. State U. Prof. of sociology Deirdre Oakley, and housing justice organizer Allison Johnson also briefed us on the history and current issues affecting the communities. The highlight as always was our visit to the threatened Peoplestown homes of GSU law professor Tanya Washington (left) and Bertha and Robert Darden, and the home of Ms. Mattie Jackson (center) - who after a courageous campaign with community support was told last year that she will not be displaced, and celebrated her 95th birthday during our visit! Photos: Reid Freeman Jenkins