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1980 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner


The 1980 Dinner was held on Saturday, May 10, at the Congress Hotel, on the heels of a major march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. The theme was distinctly theological and feminist, with the Master of Ceremonies being Rev. Jim Gorman and theologian and feminist Rosemary Ruether being the honoree. Special guest Crystal Lee Sutton, a textile worker and union organizer, was the person that the film Norma Rae was based on. Eleanor Smeal, President of NOW, also addressed the Dinner. One of the articles below mentions tapes being available. Unfortunately, we have no idea what may have become of them. Photos by Syd Harris.



Rosemary Ruether


Master of Ceremonies Reverend Jim Gorman (right), Rosemary Ruether, and the Thomas - Debs Award.


Reverend Jim Gorman and Crystal Lee Sutton (right)


Eleanor Smeal speaks at the Dinner.


Michael Harrington at the podium. Rosemary Ruether is to the left. Reverend Jim Gorman and Crystal Lee Sutton are to the right.


Michael Harrington


Stanley "Rose Bud" Rosen


Michael Harrington and Crystal Lee Sutton. The woman on the right is not known, possibly a relative to Ms. Sutton?


Thomas ­ Debs Dinner

by Carl Shier

The 1980 Thomas ­ Debs Dinner was a huge success. The Dinner capped a great Movement Day. The huge ERA [Equal Rights Amendment] demonstration brought a spirit and enthusiasm to our Dinner that was great to behold.

The spontaneous demonstrations given to Crystal Lee Sutton and her speech thanking the participants for their past support of the Stevens workers and the Stevens boycott was inspiring.

The Dinner was further honored by the presence and speech of Ellie Smeal, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW had organized the huge ERA march that day and it continues to fight for the recognition by the nation of the right to equality of women.

The audience was in a mood to sing. Stan Rosen was excellent leading and singing with the audience "Union Maid" and "Solidarity". Martha Garcia and Mary Dugan were great in their rendition of "Bread and Roses".

Chicago DSOC Chairperson, Jim Gorman, did his usual excellent job in emceeing the event, and in presenting Rosemary Ruether with the 1980 Norman Thomas ­ Eugene V. Debs award. Rosemary's response was a thoughtful presentation of her historical view of socialism and feminism.

Michael Harrington finished the evening on a high point. Mike gave a stirring address on the contradictions of the society's economic problems and the need for structural change. "The old medicine won't work", Harrington pointed out.

Thanks to those who came and to those who contributed but could not come. Thanks to those who marched for the ERA and could not make it back for the Dinner, missing one helluva day and evening family get-together.

From the June ­ July, 1980, issue of Downstate Left, published by the Champaign-Urbana Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.


Chicago Debs Dinner Update

The annual Thomas ­ Debs dinner, held this year on May 10, was a great success. The honored guest was Rosemary Ruether, who spoke on "Why Socialists and Feminists Need Each Other". A special award was presented to Crystal Lee Sutton, on whose autobiography the movie "Norma Rae" was based. Ellie Smeal, president of the National Organization for Women, gave a brief speech ­ many of the participants in the dinner had marched in the ERA march earlier that day. Keynote speaker was Mike Harrington, national chair of DSOC. Tapes of the Ruether and Harrington speeches are available ­ contact Carl Shier at 262.5299.

Money raised by the dinner this year was donated to the National Office of DSOC as part of the Challenge 80 campaign. Each dollar contributed as part of this campaign will be matched. DSOC has on its horizon so many opportunities ­ Challenge 80 will allow us to take advantage of many more of these.

From The Illinois Socialist, undated, published by the Chicago Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.


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