The Local in Eclipse (2001- 2008)

history of metro dc dsa

After 2000, the local lapsed into general inactivity for eight years.  There were no regular meetings nor was there a newsletter or other regular local DSA publication during that time.

Nevertheless, the local continued to exist on paper (and on the national DSA website) and there remained a small network of DSA members who from time to time regrouped for specific activities.  Local members held a September 17, 2001 meeting to elect delegates to the November 9-11 DSA National Convention in Philadelphia.  Six people attended the meeting, and the discussion revolved around how the local might emerge from the convention with a strategy for revitalization.  The local elected delegates to fill out its slate, most of whom had not declared their candidacy; the members attending the meeting aimed to contact them after the fact and urge them to attend.  In the end, six local members attended the convention – Loretta Schuman, Dave Richardson, Woody Woodruff, Lucy Duff, Andrew Hammer and Bill Mosley.  At the convention, DC/MD/NOVA members once again distributed materials to delegates on DC’s disenfranchisement and urged them to contact their members of Congress to demand they not place restrictions on DC’s local budget.

The local held a small meeting – five members attending – on January 15, 2002.  There was a discussion of the recent convention, and the members attending decided to revive a small measure of DSA activity via a book discussion group – which subsequently never got off the ground.  This turned out to be the last membership meeting of the local for the next seven years.

Three local members had dinner with National Director Frank Llewellyn on May 13, 2002 to discuss national activities and prospects for reviving the local.  Llewellyn discussed plans for a conference on poverty in DC to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the publication of Michael Harrington’s The Other America, possibly to be held at Gallaudet University later that year.

The poverty conference did take place September 21-23, 2002, but at First Congregational Church on the first day and the Madison Hotel afterward.  Local members staffed the conference and about 100 people participated.  On the evening of Saturday the 22nd, Dave Richardson hosted a reception at his home which was attended by many of the local and national DSA members who participated in the conference.

However, the conference did not provide the hoped-for spur to revitalize local DSA activism.  The local lapsed into near-total inactivity after that.  It sent no delegates to the 2003 DSA convention in Detroit, and only one (Bill Mosley) attended the 2005 convention in Los Angeles.

Local members did regroup to organize a November 17, 2004 discussion with DSA Vice-Chair and American Prospect Editor Harold Meyerson about the national elections that year and what they meant for the left.  About 35 people attended the event at the Mott House.

The following year, on October 1, members hosted a small fundraising reception for Llewellyn at the home of Dave Richardson to help the national organization raise funds to fight a legal challenge against the DSA Fund’s nonprofit status.

Members also organized in 2006 under the flag of DSA-PAC to hold a September 20 fundraiser at the Mott House for Bernie Sanders’ initial campaign for Senate.  About 40 people attended the event, at which DSA Vice Chair Chris Riddiough emceed and speakers included Sanders, members of Congress Neil Abercrombie, Dennis Kucinich and Maxine Waters and DC Councilmember David Catania.  The event raised about $3,000 for Sanders’ campaign.

That would be the final local DSA activity for more than two years.  The local sent no delegates to the 2007 DSA convention in Atlanta.

Local DSA members mourned the August 2006 passing of Dorothy Healey, a major figure in the 20th-century American left and an active member of the DSA local since the early 1980s.  Many members attended her memorial service at the Josephine Butler Parks Center.

DSA lost another beloved leader in December 2007 with the passing of Hilda Mason, former DC Councilmember, DSA national vice chair and “grandmother of the world.”  A number of members attended her memorial service at 19th Street Baptist Church.