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1960 Eugene V. Debs Dinner

The Chicago Debs Day Dinner was held on November 12 at the Midland Hotel, as the article below indicates. It was apparently quite the event, though 200 people would hardly "jam" the main ballroom of the Midland; the place could hold about 500 in a banquet setting.

We have quite a selection of photos from the event and some of them are posted below. Unfortunately, after so many years, it's not clear just who all of the people in them are.

Thanks to Ken Okamoto for the research assistance; he dug up the New America article. The photos are by Syd Harris.

Mazey Addresses Debs Day Dinner;
Calls for New Labor Foreign Policy

By Irwin Suall, National Secretary
Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation

A new foreign policy for the American labor movement was the theme of a speech by Emil Mazey, Secretary Treasurer of the United Auto Workers at the Debs Day Dinner of Local Chicago, SP-SDF, on November 12th.

Mazey called for a new look by the unions at the entire question of nuclear disarmament and the cold war. He asserted that labor must fight for world peace as the only realistic alternative to nuclear holocaust, and said that the present AFL-CIO policy must undergo substantial revision. One of the key issues which badly needs a new appraisal, according to Mazey, is the inclusion of Communist China in the United Nations.

The UAW leader also challenged the shibboleth that the American workers were "affluent" members of a middle class society. Not only are most workers far from affluent, he said, but they now face still another recession. Out of the past 100 years of American history, the workers have experienced fully fifty years of recessions, panics and depressions. America still needs some very basic changes, he said, and this is one of the cardinal issues facing the trade union movement.


Two hundred persons jammed the dinner hall at the Midland Hotel in downtown Chicago to hear Mazey speak under Socialist Party auspices. The audience was made up of a representative grouping of Chicago's labor, Negro and liberal community. The dinner was chaired by Hilton Hanna, Special Assistant to Secretary Treasurer Patrick Gorman of the Butcher Workers Union. Greetings from the Workmen's Circle and the Jewish Labor Bund were delivered by David Shier. The Negro American Labor Council greeted the dinner through Timothy Black, a prominent leader of the Chicago Branch of NALC.

Speaking at the dinner on behalf of A. Philip Randolph was Russ Lasley of the staff of the United Packinghouse Workers of America. Lasley, who is also a leader of the Negro American Labor Council, conveyed the regrets of Randolph at not being able to be present. He went on to assert that Negro Americans were through with accepting second class citizenship in this country and that they were marching forward, heads high, as Eugene V. Debs had shown all workers to march.

-- from New America, December 1, 1960

New America

1960 Debs Day Dinner

A crowd shot of the 1960 Debs Day Dinner. Note the size of the speakers' table. It must have been a long evening!

Emil Mazey

The featured speaker, Emil Mazey, then Secretary-Treasurer of the United Auto Workers.

Hilton Hanna

The Master of Ceremonies was Hilton Hanna

Milgram and Hanna

Morris Milgram is on the left; Hilton Hanna is on the right. We have no information about Milgram's role in the program. Milgram is remembered as a developer of integrated housing.

Herman Benson

Herman Benson addresses the Dinner. Benson was a labor lawyer who went on to found the Association for Union Democracy.

Weinrib Benson Mazey

Max Weinrib (left) was a founder of these Dinners; the 1958 Dinner was planned in his living room. Herman Benson is in the center and Emil Mazey is on the right.

David Shier

David Shier brought greetings from the Jewish Labor Bund. Carl Shier, another founder of this Dinner, is his son.

Shier et. al.

When Carl Shier looked at this photo a few years ago, he recalled the gentleman on the left as being from Workman's Circle. In a few photos, his name tag is just about legible, provided you already knew the name. David Shier is in the middle. Carl Shier recalled the person on the right as being the organizer of the Young Peoples Socialist League.

speakers table

Carl Shier recalled the person on the left to be Norm Hill, who had been an organizer for the Socialist Party in Chicago at about that time. Hill ultimately became the head of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. We do not know the identity of the person on the right.


We have absolutely no clue as to who provided the entertainment that evening. It really must have been a long evening.

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