Even though the local was not active, a local member (Bill Mosley) continued to be listed on the national DSA website as the DC-area contact. From time to time people had contacted the local asking about meetings and activities only to find there were none.
But in early 2009 a number of new members contacted the local expressing an interest in helping to reactivate it. After a number of informal contacts, several members – mostly longer-term members but also new ones – met on May 9 at Dos Gringos Café in Mount Pleasant. The group made plans to hold a larger meeting the following month.
That meeting took place on June 13 at the home of Trudy Scanlan in Rockville. A total of 23 people showed up, several of them recent alumni of Young Democratic Socialists. DSA National Director Frank Llewellyn attended and discussed national DSA projects. The group scheduled a further meeting for the following month.
The July 25 meeting drew 13 people, nearly all of them newer members. The group agreed to prioritize internal education and being a presence at ongoing events, including a single-payer health-care rally later that month. At the following meeting, held September 12, local members elected four delegates to the November DSA convention in Evanston, Ill.
Meanwhile, the local expanded its visibility in the local community. In October members handed out DSA literature at a local showing of Michael Moore’s film Capitalism: A Love Story.
In the end two local members attended the November 13-15 convention: Ben Kreider and Bill Mosley. As with previous conventions, DC/MD/NOVA delegates circulated a letter to convention participants asking for support for the DC statehood struggle.
The local members rebranded the revived local as “Metro-DC DSA,” dropping the old name DC/MD/NOVA DSA.
The local continued regular meetings into the new year. It also initiated a monthly happy hour and began advertising its local meeting and events on Meetup. By the spring it also was holding regular discussion forums, known as Socialist Salons, most of them at Hunan Dynasty restaurant on Capitol Hill.
DSA members made up a large part of the attendance at an April 10 fundraiser for the Rosenberg Fund for Children featuring the organization’s founder – and son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg – Robert Meeropol, at the home of Bill Mosley. About 40 people attended and contributed $3,000 to the fund, which supports children whose political-activist parents have been incarcerated. Many of the attendees were friends and supporters of Kurt Stand and Terry Squillacote, both of them still in federal prison, and the Fund’s support for their children was noted at the event.
DSA National Vice Chair Joe Schwartz traveled to DC to give a talk at a local meeting on May 10 at MLK Library. The following month national director Frank Llewellyn had dinner with several local activists where he broached the idea of holding the 2011 DSA convention in the DC area.
At its July meeting the local discussed the proposal to hold the convention in DC; there was sentiment pro and con and the local made no decision on whether to endorse it. The local did endorse Vince Gray for DC mayor in the upcoming Democratic primary election against incumbent Adrian Fenty. The endorsement was a close vote with eight in favor, five against and two abstaining. Members of the local subsequently canvassed for Gray with local union members.
During the rest of the summer and into early fall the local was focused on the “One Nation Working Together” event in DC on October 2, a march and rally to demand jobs for all. Metro-DC DSA organized a local forum on September 26 as a lead-in to the march, held at Plymouth Congregational Church and featuring DSA Vice-Chair and The American Prospect editor Harold Meyerson, Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, and Plymouth Rev. Graylan Hagler. About 35 people attended the forum, which was largely organized by Dave Richardson. A large DSA contingent of local and national members participated in the main march on the Mall on October 2.
In early 2011 the local became engaged, in conjunction with Jobs for Justice, in the effort to prevent Walmart from opening stores in DC. During the winter a number of members circulated petitions against the company, and the Current newspapers in March ran an op-ed by Bill Mosley setting out the argument against Walmart. Also, in January Chicago DSA member Bill Barclay, an economist, gave a talk in DC on the proposed bill by Congressman John Conyers for a public works jobs program to be funded by a “Tobin Tax” on stock transactions.
A local committee began meeting to help plan the November DSA convention, with an emphasis on organizing the public outreach event. The main convention was to be held in a hotel at Tysons Corner, and by summer St. Stephen’s Church in DC had been selected as the site for the public outreach event. More meetings and a conference call between the local and the national office focused on trying to secure speakers, but by late summer none were confirmed.
By late September, however, DSA was able to confirm John Conyers and SEIU Vice-President Eliseo Medina as speakers, and a search was on for a woman to join the panel when Barbara Ehrenreich, who initially agreed to speak, later pulled out. In early September the local held its elections for delegates, filling its 11-member delegation as well as electing two alternates.
In the end, Conyers canceled his appearance. The final roster of speakers included Medina; John Nichols, writer for The Nation and author of the book The “S” Word; DC Central Labor Council President Joslyn Williams; and Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice. About 200 people packed the church for the event.
The local’s January membership meeting featured a participant in the ongoing Occupy DC movement, which had established an encampment at McPherson Square. The speaker, who identified himself only as Ben, expressed Occupy’s commitment to sticking together beyond the tent-city phase. As about that time the local received a membership list from the national office showing a membership of 210, about 25 percent higher than two years before. Later that winter the local sent out an appeal for local dues, raising about $700.
On Tuesday, May 1st, around 15 DSA members participated in the largest May Day celebration the national capital had seen in years, according to the Socialist. Participants gathered at Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park and marched to the White House.
A discussion on electoral politics in May resulted in a decision to reach out to the Democratic Party in Virginia and involve local members in canvassing and/or phone banking for the party, but especially Obama, in that swing state. That fall members of the local traveled to Chantilly for door-to-door canvassing for the Democratic slate.
In July, the local formed a socialist book group which temporarily supplanted the monthly socialist salons. Its initial meeting featured an overview, led by Ben Kreider, Coleson Breen and Andy Feeney, on the life and thought of Michael Harrington, leading into a discussion in its second meeting of Harrington’s The Other America.
On August 25, longtime local member Horst Brand died at age 92. Brand had been a co-founder of Dissent and a frequent contributor to the magazine. He had organized a reading group for the DSA local and was involved in helping plan local events. Brand was born in Germany and fled the rise of Hitler to move to the United States where he worked for the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The local launched the revived Washington Socialist as an online publication in September. In that issue the local announced the formation of the new Activist Committee, primarily to plan and organize protest activities. Writing in that issue, Coleson Breen said that as “the local has continued to grow, it has become apparent that there is a great desire to make ourselves heard in local and national politics though non-violent direct action.” The committee was in the early stages of planning an action to protest the poor service of PEPCO, including support for a plan to create a public utility in Maryland.
On September 9, around 200 activists from groups such as the Communications Workers of America and the Sierra Club, as well as a small DSA contingent, gathered to protest the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Also in September, Metro-DC DSA marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Michael Harrington’s The Other America with the showing of a documentary film, Michael Harrington and Today’s Other America: Corporate Power and Inequality at Georgetown University’s McNeir Auditorium. As reported in the October Socialist, the film “traces the mingled paths of Harrington, an activist academic, and socialists in their response to capitalism’s relentless erosion of workers’ lives and livelihoods.” Harold Meyerson, American Prospect editor-at-large, Washington Post columnist and DSA national vice-chair, gave a talk after the film. Co-sponsoring the event with DSA were Georgetown’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor and Dissent magazine.
On Feb. 17, DSA fielded a contingent at a major rally on the Mall to demand action on climate change, end fracking and halt the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
The local held a membership meeting on March 9, which included an election for local steering committee.
The March 21 Socialist Salon featured a discussion of David Schweickart’s book After Capitalism.
Andy Feeney represented DSA at a May 8 meeting held by Rep. John Conyers to build support for his bill for a full-employment program, to be funded by a tax on financial transactions.
At its May 11 membership meeting at the Shaw library, the local voted to expand its steering committee from five to seven members, and members were elected to fill the new seats.
The summer of 2013 was an especially active time for the local. The day after a Socialist Happy Hour at Luna Grill, the Socialist Salon on July 30 at the Hunan Dynasty restaurant examined, as advertised in the midsummer issue of the Socialist, “the white racist right that is the quasi-organized force behind individual instances of outrage like the mass murder in Charleston’s venerable black church.”
By mid-2013 Bernie Sanders was already considering a race for President in 2016, and on August 9, at a meeting at the Shaw library, the local held a training for members wanting to be help convince Sanders to run. The local effort tied into a national DSA effort to develop an independent campaign (separate from any Sanders campaign structure, to take advantage of Citizens United funding rules) to support Sanders. At the same meeting the local also discussed “The Evolving Politics of Climate Change.”
The Socialist Book Group met on Sunday, Aug. 16 at the National Portrait Gallery’s Kogod Courtyard to discuss Steve Fraser’s book The Age of Acquiescence. Then on August 20, the Socialist Salon examined the sovereign debt crises of Greece and Puerto Rico.
A contingent of national and local DSA members participated in the August 24 50th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom. DSA sponsored an after-march reception at Hunan Dynasty featuring Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) who spoke about his bill to bring about full employment, funded by a tax on financial transactions.
The local held a membership meeting on Saturday, September 14 at MLK Library. Then on September 19, the topic of the Socialist Salon “How do we think about Socialism?”
The local held a membership meeting on Saturday, October 12 at MLK Library and a Socialist Salon on Thursday, October 17 at Hunan Dynasty.
The local sent a small delegation to the DSA national convention held October 24-27 in Emeryville, Calif. (near Oakland).
The local’s December membership meeting was a holiday party on Saturday, December 14 at Rosemary’s Thyme Restaurant.
During this period the local became a dues-paying member of DC Jobs with Justice.
Early in the year, a small team of DSA member supported reproductive rights for Washington-area women by participating in a bowl-a-thon and billiards tournament that the DC Abortion Fund (DCAF) put on as a fundraiser.
On Saturday, February 8, the local held a general membership meeting at Cleveland Park Library. It made its endorsements for the April 1 DC primary election, endorsing Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal for mayor, Eleanor Holmes Norton for delegate to Congress and Phil Mendelson for Council chair. The local issued a press release on its endorsements, which was covered by Washington City Paper under the headline “Busboys and Socialists.” A March 30 fundraising reception for Shallal organized by the local took place during a winter storm and drew about 25 supporters, raising $1,066. Norton and Mendelson easily won their primaries (and general elections), but Shallal finished far out of the running with less than 4 percent of the vote, finishing fifth in an eight-candidate field in a race won by Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser.
On February 27 about 15 people turned out to hear Kurt Stand and Carolyn Byerly lead a discussion on “Jobs, Justice and the Economy” at a salon at Hunan Dynasty restaurant.
The local held a membership meeting on Saturday, March 8 at the Cleveland Park Library branch. April’s activities featured a general membership meeting on Saturday, April 12 at the West End Library; and a Socialist Salon discussion group on Thursday, April 17 at Hunan Dynasty. That salon, as described in the May Socialist, ”was one of the most fertile and productive in memory. The subject was the sometimes bewildering anatomy of today’s socialist Left, and detailed handouts prepared by members were the germ of a productive confab.” As a followup, that issue of the Socialist included a descriptive catalog of socialist left organizations in the United States.
The local’s May 10 membership meeting, held at the Cleveland Park Library, featured the election of the local steering committee. Newly elected to the steering committee were Ingrid Goldstrom and Kurt Stand, joining re-elected members Jose Gutierrez, the local co-chair, and incumbent Andy Feeney. The following month’s meeting, on June 15 also at Cleveland Park, featured the assembly of a mailing to solicit local dues.
DSA member and author Steve Early read from and spoke about his new book, Save Our Unions, at Busboys and Poets (the 14th and V location) on Monday, June 2.
The local held an event on July 18 to discuss the case of Cecily McMillan, a New York DSA member who was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during the 2012 police sweep on the Occupy Wall Street site at Zuccotti Park and was sentenced to Rikers Island prison.
An old committee was revived on Sunday, July 27 when the Cultural and Event Planning Committee (successor to the earlier Cultural and Education Committee) met in the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery.
The local held its summer picnic August 9 on the Mall. Besides a social outing, it featured a discussion of possible endorsements in the November elections.
On August 31 the local hosted a brunch at El Tamarindo restaurant in Adams Morgan for DSA National Vice-Chair Joe Schwartz. During the informal gathering Schwartz and about a dozen local members discussed the emergence of the new DSA “Left Caucus,” memorable moments in DSA history, and DSA’s role in that year’s local elections.
In August, the local sent a questionnaire to candidates for the two council at-large seats in the November general election, one of them the open seat reserved for a non-Democrat being vacated by David Catania, who was running for mayor. At its September 13 membership meeting at the Watha Daniel/Shaw Library, the local endorsed Rev. Grayland Hagler (Independent) and Eugene Puryear (Statehood Green) for the seats. The local’s endorsement of the Council candidates rated a mention in the Washington Post’s political blog. It also endorsed Statehood Green candidate Joyce Robinson-Paul for shadow representative. None of the endorsees won in the general election – in which the at-large seats were won by Anita Bonds (D) and Elissa Silverman (I) – Puryear and Hagler finished sixth and seventh, respectively – and Franklin Garcia (D) was elected shadow representative. Muriel Bowser won the race for mayor.
In the wake of the August 9 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the subsequent non-indictment of the police officer who shot him, a group called Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) arose as a leader of emergent Black Lives Matter movement. Local DSA members Ingrid Goldstrom and Carolyn Byerly participated in SURJ conference calls.
On September 1 several DSA members participated in a Labor Day cookout at the “Lamont Collective” group house in Mount Pleasant. Three days later, two members of the local participated Jobs for Justice’s steering committee meeting.
At its following membership meeting, held October 11 at MLK Library, the local discussed the nascent Green New Deal with a presentation led by David Schwartzman, a professor emeritus at Howard University, a Statehood Green Party activist and a member of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.
Metro-DC DSA’s first Happy Hour in Virginia kicked off Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at Rosslyn’s Heavy Seas Alehouse.
On October 14, DSA Honorary Chair Cornel West spoke to a capacity crowd at the 5th and K Street Busboys and Poets on the occasion of the publication of his new book Black Prophetic Fire, an exploration of the contemporary relevance of the legacies left by Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X.
The monthly Socialist Salon, Thursday, Oct. 16, featured the topic “Marxism and African Social Movements After World War II,” a group discussion led by Nicole Gerber.
A number of local members participated in the DC Labor Notes Troublemakers School at the Foundry Methodist Church on Saturday, November 15, an event sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council and DC Jobs with Justice. The event focused on organizing and activism for both union members and the public.
The local held a salon on November 20 at Hunan Dynasty featuring a discussion led by Rev. Graylan Hagler – recent DC Council candidate and pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ – speaking on the just-concluded DC election and prospects for progressive change in the District.
On November 23 the local held a retreat in Cheverly to discuss strategy and priorities. Ten members participated in the discussion of the past year’s activities and the state of the national organization. The principal outcome was a commitment to work with the local labor in support of a $15-per-hour minimum wage. Members also discussed working with the potential Bernie Sanders 2016 presidential campaign and continuing to work with its endorsees in the 2014 DC Council campaign.
A number of DSA members participated in a November 28 “Black Friday” protest against Walmart, starting with a rally at Union Station followed by a march to the Walmart on H Street.
The Happy Hours in Northern Virginia continued on December 11 at the Arlington Pub. One week later a Socialist Salon was held December 18 at Hunan Dynasty.
On December 14 about 25 local members gathered behind the DSA banner on at Freedom Plaza for a large rally against police violence, followed by a march to the Capitol. The local canceled its scheduled membership meeting to encourage members to attend the rally.
In a year-end wrapup on local DSA activity for 2014, Andy Feeney, writing in the Socialist, noted that “Metro DC local members and supporters participated to some degree in at least 57 different DSA-related events during the year, or more than one per week.”
On January 10 the local held a general membership meeting at MLK Library featuring Andrea Miller, director of People Demanding Action. She spoke of PDA’s priorities, focusing on reviving the Equal Rights Amendment, jobs for all, and DC Statehood. Miller and the local discussed ways the two organizations could work together.
The monthly Socialist Salon was held Thursday, Jan. 15 at and featured a discussion of progressive electoral and governance prospects in the District and Maryland led by Prince George’s DSA activists Lucy Duff and Lisa Stand, Montgomery DSA activist Wally Malakoff, and recent DC Council candidate Eugene Puryear.
The local’s February 15 meeting featured a discussion of the planned merger between Pepco and Exelon. The featured speaker, energy expert David Freeman, had to postpone his appearance due to inclement weather.
The Socialist Salon met Thursday, February 19, at Hunan Dynasty and featured an analysis of the Syriza victory in Greece’s parliamentary elections and the possible reverberations in the Eurozone led by Simon Davis, a journalist who had lived in Greece. The local’s Happy Hour took place February 25 at Bread & Brew.
The local’s membership meeting on Sunday, March 8 at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw library involved the fight to defend net neutrality. Matt Wood, a policy director of the Internet activist organization Free Press, outlined his and other groups’ efforts to protect the open Internet, prevent media concentration, promote affordable broadband deployment and safeguard press freedoms.
The March 19 Socialist Salon at Hunan Dynasty featured DSA National Vice-Chair Chris Riddiough leading a discussion on “Second Wave Feminism: A History and Evaluation.”
The local’s membership meeting on Saturday, April 11 at the Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library focused on the upcoming steering committee elections, as well as the local’s coalition work on the Fight for Fifteen minimum wage campaign and solidarity support for postal union workers.
DSA decided to make no endorsements in the April special elections for DC Council in Wards 4 and 8.
Metro DC DSA was a cosponsor of “Demystifying Syria – The Real Story Behind ISIS,” a April 11 forum in Rockville along with lead sponsor Peace Action Montgomery, held at Unitarian Universalist Church of Rockville.
The local’s April 16 Salon took place at Howard University and consisted of a showing and discussion of the film The Stuart Hall Project, a documentary about the legendary Jamaican-born British intellectual and activist. The event was hosted by Howard’s Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies, chaired by DSA member Carolyn Byerly who led a discussion after the film which also included other Howard faculty and students.
Several local members traveled to Philadelphia on May 2 for a regional conference on DSA’s revision of its strategy document.
The local held general membership and steering committee meetings on May 10 at the Shaw library. The agenda for the general membership meeting involved electing members of the steering committee and discussing DSA’s role in the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, including what the local could and couldn’t do in an independent campaign. Returning to the steering committee were Jose Gutierrez (co-chair), Andy Feeney, Ingrid Goldstrom, Bryan Kovalick and Kurt Stand. Former SC member Carolyn Byerly also was elected, as was new SC member Jonathan Phipps. At the same membership meeting, the members agreed to form several committees/working groups. A revival of a feminist working group on women’s issues would be led by Goldstrom and Byerly. A new initiative on gentrification and housing was to be coordinated by Andy Feeney.
The DSA Book Club met in the Kogod Courtyard at National Portrait Gallery on May 17 to discuss Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think by George Lakoff.
The local was a co-sponsor of one of DC LaborFest’s film offerings, “Northern Lights,” which was shown on Wednesday, May 20, at the AFI Theater in Silver Spring. The 1978 documentary, a winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s prize for best debut film, dramatized the organizing efforts of the Nonpartisan League, an early 20th-century progressive movement originating among North Dakota farmers.
The Thursday, May 21 Socialist Salon featured a discussion of Bernie Sanders’ newly announced candidacy for president and how the local could support him, given the constraints of national DSA’s deciding to conduct an independent effort that would be prohibited lay from coordinating with the official Sanders campaign. David Duhalde was named point person for the local effort.
The local held steering and membership meetings June 14 at the Shaw Library where members assembled a dues renewal mailing during the steering committee portion. While hands were busy there ensued discussions of the Sanders campaign and future discussion salons. The general meeting featured a presentation by Dave Freeman, energy expert and former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Freeman spoke of the growth of public power under FDR as an example of socialism in practice, a concept that was being lost with the advance of the for-profit energy corporations.
In other June activity, the Socialist Salon met Thursday, June 18 at Hunan Dynasty. The Socialist Book Group met Sunday, June 21 at the Kogod Courtyard to discuss Terry Eagleton’s 2011 book, Why Marx Was Right; and a ”themeless” DSA Happy Hour took place Wednesday, June 24 at the Luna Grill.
On Saturday, June 27, members of the local canvassed for Sanders at the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market.
The local’s July and August membership meetings were devoted to training and planning for the local’s “We Need Bernie” campaign.
July’s Socialist Salon explored white racism, its origins and how it is layered into US culture with input from a graduate student at the University of Maryland who studied hate groups. The book discussion group was active during the summer, reading Steve Fraser’s The Age of Acquiescence and Ian Haney Lopez’s Dog Whistle Politics.
Ben Schreiber, national climate and energy program director for Friends the Earth US (FOEUS), spoke to at the local’s September 13 general meeting concerning President Obama’s national climate action plan. As reported in the September Socialist by Woody Woodruff and Andy Feeney, Schreiber warned that “progressives and green activists face enormous challenges in the years ahead in getting the U.S. to make the energy transitions necessary to head off ever-worsening climate change. What’s more, current political and economic realities make it likely that the fossil fuel industry and the American economic elite will find ways to ensure that, if this society ever does anything significant about climate change, the wealthy will force the less well-off to pay for it.” The meeting also included election of delegates to the DSA National Convention to be held November 13-15 in Bolivar, Pa. Several Metro-DC DSA members traveled to Baltimore on September 20 to help launch the new local there.
In other early fall activity, the Socialist Salon took place Thursday, September 17; the happy hour at Luna Grille on September 30 and book discussion group October 4.
Three local DSA members attended DC Jobs with Justice’s “I’ll Be There” awards gala on October 2. One of the awardees was Joslyn Williams, retiring president of the Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council, one of the founders of DC-JwJ and a DSA member.
On October 24 the local held a “We Need Bernie” rally in support of the Sanders campaign. Held at the Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Sts. NW, more than 100 heard remarks by author and former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, author and DSA honorary chair Barbara Ehrenreich, former Communication Workers of America President Larry Cohen and Busboys owner Andy Shallal.
A nine-member delegation from the local attended the November 13-15 DSA National Convention. Some assessments from delegates, as recorded in the December Socialist:
Merrill Miller: I was particularly pleased that [DSA] passed an overarching strategy document at its 2015 convention. The document affirms the good work that DSA chapters are doing all over the country to rectify inequality and present positive, socialist alternatives to our current capitalist system. But it also defines the long-term goals of the organization as a whole in such a way that it allows activists to focus their work on issues that will have the most effective and long-lasting gains both for the organization itself and for the democratic socialist aim of creating a more equitable society. . .What struck me most at the convention, other than the breadth of the strategy document itself, was the way in which it was adopted. Unlike many other organizations with which I have been involved, DSA implemented its strategy in a democratic manner that aligned with the organization’s principles. Instead of the document being formulated by a national staff and board and then foisted upon the individual members, the document was a product of collaboration and planning at both the national and local levels.
Andy Feeney: The best moment at this year’s DSA national convention, for me, came on the last day. The auditorium where the plenary was meeting was chilly, and I ducked out for a few minutes to get an extra sweater. When I returned to the table seating most of the Metro DC delegation, four of our younger members were engaged in vigorous exchanges with Jose [Gutierrez] and Ingrid [Golstrom] about local organizing possibilities for the ‘We Need Bernie’ campaign.
Woody Woodruff also contributed a report on a “theory and practice” workshop on feminism in DSA’s work led by Carolyn Byerly of the Metro DC local and Peg Strobel of the Chicago/Oak Park local.
The November 19 salon featured Claire Cook of ONE DC speaking on the region’s ongoing crisis of rising rents and increasing gentrification.
The local held a general membership meeting on Sunday, December 13 at MLK Library. It was mainly devoted to housekeeping. During the meeting a gunman was spotted in the building and the members spent time in lockdown in the library auditorium. A happy hour took place Wednesday, December 30 at Luna Grill.
The local’s general membership meeting on Sunday, January 10 featured discussion of the state of reproductive rights in the DC metro area with speakers Caroline O’Shea, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, and Diana Philip, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland. On January 16, members of the local canvassed for Sanders at the Columbia Heights Metro station.
The January 28 Socialist Salon at Hunan Dynasty featured Bill Fletcher Jr. – former senior official at the AFL-CIO and current editorial board member of Black Commentator and senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies – speaking on “The Necessity of Joining the Struggles Against Racism and Economic Injustice.”
The local helped organized a rally and march for Sanders on Saturday, January 30. The marchers gathered at McPherson Square and proceeded to the African-American Civil War Memorial on U Street for the rally, where DSAers Merrill Miller and Coleson Breen were among the speakers.
The Socialist Book Group met on Sunday, February 7 at the Kogod Courtyard to discuss Karl Polanyi’s classic The Great Transformation.
Local DSA members and other Bernie Sanders advocates flyered at the Silver Spring Metro station on Saturday, February 6 at the Columbia Heights Metro station.
On Sunday, February 14, the local held its steering committee and membership meetings at the Cleveland Park Library. The steering committee discussed possible endorsements in that year’s elections, with the conclusion that there were no candidates meriting an endorsement in the DC elections. A discussion of Maryland races led to endorsements for Donna Edwards for U.S. Senate and Jamie Raskin and Joseline Pena-Melnyk for U.S. House. The general meeting featured a talk by Chris Townsend of Amalgamated Transit Union about the sorry state of the labor movement and labor leadership, and how union leaders had meekly given in to the anti-labor offensive by employers. He believed there was hope, however, that a revived progressive movement built around the Sanders campaign might start to turn the tide. After the main meeting the local’s Sanders campaign committee met and with the Virginia primary coming up in two weeks it decided to hold a canvass in Ballston the following weekend as well as one in Columbia Heights during the upcoming week.
On the morning of Wednesday, February 17, local members gathered to canvass for Sanders at the Columbia Heights Metro station.
On February 18 the local purchased an ad in the Metro AFL-CIO’s “Evening with Labor” event program for $50.
During February local members began the process up revising the website so that it could accept new-members enrollments and dues, which previously could be done only on paper or through the national office. New members would be able to pay dues using the site’s new PayPal link. This was undertaken in conjunction with plans to reach out to signers of the local’s Sanders support petitions to recruit them into DSA. The project would run into the fall, when by late September the website was first able to accept new-member signups.
On Saturday, March 12, the local held a “We Need Bernie” forum at CWA headquarters. About 40 people attended, including a few non-members, three of whom joined DSA at the event. Brooks Sunkett of CWA gave opening remarks, and Harold Meyerson followed with an analysis of current politics and how the Sanders campaign fit into, and went beyond, it. Breakout sessions followed lunch.
The following day, March 13, the local held its steering and general membership meetings.
Brooks Sunkett made another appearance at a DSA local event on March 21 – at a Socialist Salon whose topic was, as described by Kurt Stand in the May Socialist, “the connection between the labor movement’s domestic issues and the struggles for peace and justice workers are engaged in around the world.” Sunkett spoke as a convener of US Labor Against War (USLAW), along with his co-convener Bob Muhlenkamp, former executive vice president and director of organizing for SEIU-1199 and former director of organizing for the Teamsters.
On April 10, the local held a membership meeting to consider endorsements in the primary elections for DC Council. Robert White, a challenger to Vincent Orange in the Democratic primary for an at-large seat, had solicited the local’s endorsement. After a discussion, the members decided to forego endorsements in DC races.
On Saturday, April 16, Bill Mosley participated in a panel on DC Statehood at All Souls Church, part of the Democracy Awakening/Democracy Spring actions taking place that weekend. Also speaking were Eugene Puryear, Statehood/Green Party and Party of Liberation and Socialism; Kim Perry, DC Vote; civil rights attorney Johnny Barnes; and DC Shadow Representative Franklin Garcia.
A DSA discussion salon on April 21 raised $192 to help striking Verizon workers.
Local members participated in an April 23 canvass with the nurses’ union, coordinated out of the former National Labor College campus in Silver Spring.
On April 26 several local members canvassed in Burtonsville, Maryland for Sanders.
In early May DSA sponsored a showing of the film She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, with the proceeds of $320 going to Planned Parenthood.
DSA National Director Maria Svart was in DC on June 6 where she met with about 30 local members at Hunan Dynasty Restaurant. Svart spoke about how Bernie Sanders had energized the nation with his focus on the evils of capitalism and economic inequality, and how this captured the essence of socialism.
On June 14 – DC Primary day – local members worked the polls for Sanders at the Columbia Heights Education Campus.
The local helped organize an August 25 rally in advance at the Trump Hotel in advance of its opening to protest Donald Trump’s racist, Islamophobic, nativist presidential campaign. About 100 people attended.
In late September the local sponsored a salon talk by Carlos Jimenez, the new director of the Central Labor Council, and met with Progressive Maryland on using the Sanders campaign to strengthen progressive politics locally.
On October 13, a contingent of DSA members participated in another protest in front of the Trump Hotel, this one focused on Trump’s refusal to bargain with his employees at his Las Vegas hotels.
An October 26 salon at Hunan Dynasty featured a program on “The History of DC’s Left” with Debbie and John Hanrahan and Howard Croft. About two dozen people heard the Hanrahans reminisce about four major figures from DC’s recent left history: Hilda Mason, Julius Hobson, Sammie Abbott and Josephine Butler. Croft spoke about how much of the insurgent energy that fueled DC politics in the 1960s and 1970s – even within the DC Council – had dissipated over the years.
Donald Trump’s election as president in November was both a shock and a call to action for local left-progressive forces, and DSA was no exception. A November 11 DSA salon at Hunan Dynasty featured a discussion on how to respond to the election results. About 50 people attended and discussed the left’s need and ability to fight back. David Duhalde, DSA’s associate director, reported that DSA’s national membership already had increased by over 1,000 in the few days since the election. A surge of new-member enrollments was also coming into the newly updated local website which now was able to accommodate new member sign-ups.
The November 14 local DSA meeting at MLK Library drew more than 50 people, one of the largest turnouts for a general meeting in the past three decades, with the majority new or prospective members. The increased interest in DSA was also demonstrated by donations to the local through the website; within a week after the election 14 people had made unsolicited donations totaling $480.
DSA was a sponsor of a November 17 “Rally for Social and Economic Justice and Equality” at the Capitol. The rally had been scheduled before the election to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, with the assumption that Hillary Clinton, a TPP supporter, would win the election. With Trump, a TPP opponent, having won, the gathering of about 1,000, many of them union members, became a celebration of the agreement’s demise, an embrace of a larger social-justice program, and a forum for criticism of Trump’s agenda notwithstanding his pledge to pull out of the TPP. Most of the speakers were union leaders, but the roster also included Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
Numerous DSA members participated in a rally on Sunday, November 20 outside the Ronald Reagan Building where a white-supremacist group was holding a conference.
By the end of November the local had added about 30 new members, many of them agreeing to serve on local committees.
On Wednesday, November 23, the local emailed the long-planned recruitment/renewal letter to people who had signed its Sanders support lists as well as to current members and other contacts.
The local celebrated the holidays with a December 12 party at the home of Jessie Mannisto. The following day it sponsored an event in Takoma featuring Cecily McMillan, a New York DSA member arrested during an Occupy New York protest and subsequently convicted and imprisoned at Riker’s Island.
On December 21 members of the local participated in an anti-Islamophobia event starting outside the Pennsylvania Avenue offices of the anti-Islamic hate group The Clarion Project followed by a march to the White House for speeches which condemned Trump’s giving comfort to the forces of Islamophobia, nativism and misogyny.