by Bob Roman
The 2010 Debs
Thomas Harrington Dinner gathered together people representing
Chicago's legal, labor, liberal, and left communities to honor
the People's Law Office and the United Electrical Workers' Western
Regional President Carl Rosen. Author William Greider was our
featured speaker. The event was held on Friday evening, May 7,
at what is becoming its current home, the Crowne Plaza Chicago
Metro, located at Madison and Halsted in Chicago.
Kim Bobo was our Master of
Ceremonies. We have been so fortunate to have her help at our
Dinners. In my opinion, she's the best since Leon Despres.
Flint Taylor accepted the
award to the People's Law Office from GOPDSA Co-Chair Tom Broderick.
Taylor went on to recognize some of the people, present and not,
who helped found the law collective and helped make it one of
the major resources in defense of civil liberties in Chicago.
He spoke briefly about the history of the People's Law
Office and its current work.
Carl Rosen accepted the Debs
Thomas Harrington award from Chicago DSA Co-Chair Ron Baiman.
Rosen found this conceptually difficult. The United Electrical
Workers (UE) sees itself as, and tries its best to be, a rank-and-file
union; in that context, an officer of the union accepting an
award could be seen as presumptuous. So he used the occasion
to promote Warehouse Workers for Justice (www.warehouseworker.org
), a UE project that is organizing warehouse workers in Chicago's
southwestern suburbs, most of whom are not actual employees but
temp workers (despite years on the job for some) with all the
vulnerability that comes with that status.
The theme of this year's Dinner
was "Bring America Home!" This was a deliberate variation
on the title of William Greider's latest book, Come Home America,
though it works very well as a demand the left should be making
more vociferously of the Obama Administration. Greider's speech
was drawn mostly from the latter part of his latest book, and
dealt with what we can do to change the direction our country
is headed. It was an optimistic talk, and for those of you who
missed it, I would suggest reading the book. Or, if you live
in Chicago and have cable, the event was taped for later broadcast
on CANTV, Chicago's public access cable network.
As someone who has helped
organized these dinners for the past twenty years, I want to
thank all of you who supported this year's event. It was especially
important this year because DSA has become one of the right-wing's
favorite hate-objects. (To be fair, they have so many!)
Considering what's become of ACORN, this is not a trivial matter.
In justifying their passion, conservatives do exaggerate our
influence. But with your help, we'll do our best to live up to
For an unconspiratorial, all-volunteer
organization like Chicago DSA, this is a tall order. But the
52nd Annual Dinner was an optimistic affair, and the participation
this year of so many good people gives
us all the more reason to be so. Thank you.
2010 Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas --
Michael Harrington Award
People's Law Office
For representation and assistance to
groups and individuals advocating progressive social change;
For work defending the left against
repression by the State;
For work holding police accountable
for corruption and brutality;
For efforts at establishing the constitutional
rights of prisoners;
For the role played toward abolishing
the death penalty;
Because this work so aptly illustrates
what Debs meant by "While there is a lower class, I am in
it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there
is a soul in prison, I am not free."
The Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner
Committee does hereby present the People's Law Office with its
annual award this 7th day of May, 2010.