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1983 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner

The 1983 Norman Thomas - Eugene V. Debs Dinner was held at the McCormick Inn on Saturday, May 7. This Dinner honored Joyce Miller, a pioneer labor feminist. Roberta Lynch provided the opening remarks and MC'd the event. Newly elected Mayor Harold Washington was unable to attend at the last minute. Carl Shier, who was to have introduced him, read a message from him instead, and spoke of DSA's considerable role in Washington's election campaign. Congressman Ron Dellums provided the Thomas - Debs address. Andy White provided entertainment.

The photos below were taken by Syd Harris. They were scanned from contact sheets rather than prints. A considerable number were your usual banquet "grip & grin" shots, only a few of which are included here. A majority of the "grip & grin" shots, interestingly enough, included Charles Hayes, who (regardless of whether he had actually announced at the time of the Dinner) was already running for the Congressional seat left vacant when Harold Washington won the Chicago mayoral election.

Joyce Miller

You have devoted a lifetime struggling for a better world for all workers.

Your tireless efforts on behalf of Farah and J.P. Stevens workers demonstrated your courage even against vicious foes.

Your advocacy of and commitment to your union's Day Care and Housing programs demonstrated your conviction that all of workers' needs are not met at the bargaining table, and that the Union's role does not end there.

Your leadership in the founding of CLUW and labor's fight for ratification of the ERA has brought an awareness of the plight of women workers to the highest councils of the labor movement.

Your contributions to these struggles was recognized when you became the first woman elected to the AFL-CIO Executive Council.

Your hopes, in organizing workers of even the most anti-union employers, providing decent housing and needed services to the families of all workers, and gaining for women their rightful place alongside men in the labor movement, are our hopes.

For this, the Thomas - Debs Dinner Committee is proud to honor you this 7th day of May, 1983.

Roberta Lynch

Roberta Lynch speaks to the Dinner attendees.

 Carl Shier

Carl Shier speaks about Harold Washington.

Christine George

Christine George speaks about Joyce Miller. Carl Shier and Joyce Miller are seated.

Miller and George

Christine George presents Joyce Miller (left) with the Thomas - Debs Award.

Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller responds.

Joyce Miller

Another Joyce Miller shot.

Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller and Dinner attendees. Ron Dellums is seated in the foreground.

Ron Dellums

Congressman Ronald Dellums addresses the Dinner.

Congressman Ronald Dellums

Another shot of Congressman Ronald Dellums.

Ronald Dellums

The Congressman makes a point.

The Speakers' Table

The Speakers' Table

Miller and Dellums

Joyce Miller and Ron Dellums

Shier and Miller

Carl Shier and Joyce Miller

Orr and Hayes

Then Alderman David Orr and not yet Congressman Charles Hayes.

Hayes & Helstein

Charles Hayes and Ralph Helstein (see the 1974 Dinner).

Dellums Calls for New Peace Movement

by John Cameron

The year's Thomas - Debs Dinner was held on the even of the "Mothers Day Walk for Peace". Appropriately, the keynote speaker for the dinner was Congressman Ron Dellums, a DSA Vice-Chair and national spokesman for the peace and disarmament movement. What the 500 dinner attendees heard, though, was more than a well-timed after dinner talk. Rather, Dellums delivered a powerful speech that dramatized the critical issues of the nuclear arms race while demonstrating the necessity for socialism's broader critique of U.S. foreign policy.

Dellums is serving his sixth term as Congressional representative of California's East Bay area. Elected as an anti-war candidate at the height of the Vietnam crisis, Dellums has again emerged as a leader for peace in the nation's capitol. He recently introduced a comprehensive alternative military budget that rejects Reagan's huge military build-up while providing for the adequate defense of legitimate U.S. interests.

Dellums began with a call for a new and massive peace movement to respond to the nuclear weapons policy of the Reagan administration. He argued that the policy behind current U.S. nuclear strategy has fundamentally shifted from the intent of deterrence to the threat of a nuclear first-strike. As evidence, he cited the administration's dogged commitment to the MX missile, a weapon with no deterrence capability since it is "not survivable" but symbolically important as the first of a series of new first-strike weapons. At the same time, the U.S. has consistently refused to sign a "no first-strike" pledge as the Soviet Union has done. These new weapon systems also put the U.S. beyond a position of verification, the bedrock of any mutual arms control treaty. Weapons such as the ground-launched cruise missile are so small they can be hidden on a fishing trawler, making detection impossible. Without the ability to verify the number and size of nuclear weapons, any negotiated effort to reduce or limit them will be impossible.

Further, the very existence of these new weapon systems threaten war. The deployment of Pershing II missiles in Western Europe will put them just 4 to 6 minutes away from their Soviet targets. That is so close as to leave almost no time to verify computer errors (a not infrequent occurrence) and invites retaliation such as Soviet missiles in Cuba. In short, the simple existence of such weapons heightens the tensions that bring us closer to nuclear war.

Given these new developments, Dellums declared that there needs to be a massive new peace movement with a two-fold agenda. It must go beyond the ambiguity of a "nuclear freeze" to stopping funding, production and deployment of first-strike weapons. It must also support a clear alternative to the present military budget and the strategy it makes possible.

Dellums went on to argue that questions of nuclear weapons and disarmament must be approached in the context of overall U.S. foreign policy. We must go beyond the 1950s Cold War view of the globe and realize that the world of the 1980s is radically different. With two-thirds of the world's population living in hunger, the world's problems are economic, social and political. They cannot be solved by military means.

The U.S. must develop a sophisticated foreign policy that can grapple with the complexities of international problems. We need to respect other nations and stop "destabilizing" them as we are attempting in Nicaragua. We most have a non-interventionist policy and remove ourselves from El Salvador. And we have to have an international commitment to peace and justice - in Central America, in South Africa and elsewhere.

Lastly, Dellums pointed out that peace is a matter of domestic priorities as well. We cannot rebuild the U.S. economy while spending $300 billion a year on the military. At the present rate, by 1990 we will have spent 3 to 4 times the entire cost of the Vietnam war on our "peacetime" military. Those billions of dollars are billions not spent on human services, education, job training or retooling industry.

Nor can those dollars help the rest of the world combat hunger or economic underdevelopment. Without such a program to redress the international imbalance of wealth, there can be no material basis for peace or stability. Such a program of assistance to other nations would be the cornerstone of a truly humane and democratic foreign policy - the goal for which we as socialists must struggle.

From the June - July, 1983, issue of The Chicago Socialist

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