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The 54th annual Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Dinner.

The 54th Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner on April 27 at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza was a "swank" affair, according to one conservative commentator who had attended the event, perhaps hoping to ambush Obama with an iphone. Alas, there were only the hoi polloi in attendance, an eagle's nest view of the west Loop, and far too much good food and drink to be credible. After all, doesn't one have to wear scratchy hair shirts and live on beans to be a socialist? This opulent abundance was obviously far more than lefties deserve.

The speakers clearly irritated our troll, too. Emcee Laurie Burgess greeted the crowd with bullet points (not bullets) from "Why We Are Democratic Socialists ". Speaking on behalf of Chicago Jobs with Justice , Susan Hurley spoke about what her organization had planned, including campaigning for a financial transactions tax. Honoree John Bouman spoke of the pleasure it was to address an audience directly, without strategy, about the need for a tax increase. The horror!

And then there was our featured speaker: Ruth Conniff, political editor for The Progressive . She mostly brought fresh news of the uprising in Wisconsin, relating it to the publication of Michael Harrington's The Other America fifty years ago. Harrington's book, and the reaction to it, represented the optimism of the sixties. Since Reagan, economic insecurity has taken its toll, reducing our imagination, fostering an ill-spirited meanness instead of solidarity. But times are changing. Walker's (among others) attack on the middle class has galvanized people, and outrage has spread beyond the confines of DSA members and readers of The Progressive. The era of passive citizenship, Conniff proclaimed, is over.

One could well imagine our troll at this point with indigestion, acid reflux, the beginnings of a migraine. For the troll seriously misliked the crowd's spirited rendition of "Solidarity Forever". To which one can only reply, most sincerely, with a query: Troll, why do you hate America?

A gramercy to Michael J. Miles for donating his services as a banjo player during the cocktail hour.

Photos by John Scott.

Laurie Burgess

Our Master of Ceremonies was Laurie Burgess, herself a Dinner honoree (2008).

Bill Barclay


Greater Oak Park DSA's Bill Barclay presented the award to Chicago Jobs with Justice.

Hurley and Barclay

Chicago Jobs with Justice

For advocating and advancing the rights of all workers, union or non-union;

For building coalitions that bring together labor, community, and religious congregations to seek justice;

For mobilizing support for jobs programs, fair trade, fair immigration, and universal health care,

The Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present Chicago Jobs with Justice with its annual award this 27th day of April, 2012.

Chicago Jobs with Justice Executive Director accepted the award for Chicago Jobs with Justice.

Susan Hurley

Chicago DSA's Sidney Hollander presented the award to John Bouman.

Sidney Hollander
 Bouman and Hollander

John Bouman

For giving voice to the needs and concerns of the poor and dispossessed in the courts and in the legislatures;

For your advocacy of universal health care;

For your leadership in the fight for fair and progressive government and taxes,

The Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this 27th day of April, 2012.

John Bouman accepting the Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington award.

John Bouman
Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff gives the Debs -- Thomas -- Harrington Address.

Debs Thomas Harrington

From left to right: our Master of Ceremonies Laurie Burgess; representing honoree Chicago Jobs with Justice, CJwJ Executive Director Susan Hurley; DSA members Bill Barclay and Sidney Hollander; our featured speaker Ruth Conniff, political editor for The Progressive; and honoree John Bouman, President of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

You are invited to the

Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas -- Michael Harrington

54th Annual Dinner
 working poor


John Bouman

President, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
Co-Chair, Responsible Budget Coalition
Co-Chair, Illinois Asset Building Group


Chicago Jobs with Justice

the city's premier labor -- community coalition.

Our emcee for the evening:
Laurie Burgess


Our featured speaker:

Ruth Conniff

Political Editor, The Progressive <> Panelist, PBS To the Contrary <> Co-Editor, It Started in Wisconsin


Today's Other America

Friday, April 27, 2012
Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, 350 W. Mart Center Dr., Chicago

Cocktails at 6 PM <> Dinner at 7 PM <> Tickets @ $70

Tickets must be reserved no later than Tuesday, April 24. A limited number of tickets may be available at the door at $80 per person. Make sure you and your organization appear in the Dinner program book. For a printable flyer (PDF) with more information, CLICK HERE. Questions? Call 773.384.0327 or email.

Contributions are not tax-deductible.

You can order tickets online (below) using PayPal's secure site. Or you can order tickets through the mail by returning this printable flyer (PDF) with your check or money order. In either case, we will mail the tickets to you around April 10. We can also mail them elsewhere or hold them at the door, but you should let us know in those cases.

Your contribution is appreciated, but because of advocacy, it's not tax deductible:

March, 2012

Dear Friends,
You are invited to participate in the 2012 Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas -- Michael Harrington Dinner. It will be held on Friday evening, April 27, at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, just west of the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago. The evening begins with a cash bar at 6 PM. The Dinner is at 7 PM. The program usually starts about 8 PM.

Michael Harrington's The Other America was published 50 years ago this March. It eloquently revealed poverty in the United States to be persistent and not isolated. Dwight Macdonald's 40 page review in the New Yorker in 1963 was effectively a second publication. When Walter Heller gave the book to President Kennedy, it got credit for catalyzing what later became Johnson's "War on Poverty." There are good reasons to be cynical about why poverty became a major item on the nation's agenda back then. Yet contrary to conservative cant, the social programs of the 1960s were not a failure even if they were not a success. When The Other America was published, nearly 30% of the U.S. population lived at or below 125% of the poverty line. Today, even in the lingering shadow of the Great Recession and decades of conservative sabotage, that number is a bit less than 20%. Our honorees this year are outstanding examples of how the fight against poverty is basically a fight for justice. This year we are honoring John Bouman and Chicago Jobs with Justice.

John Bouman is President of, and Director of Advocacy at, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. He is also a leader in the Responsible Budget Coalition, which waged a nearly successful campaign to bring fiscal sanity to Illinois State government and to preserve human service and education funding. Bouman was a leader in the successful statewide effort to create the Family Care and All Kids programs that provide health insurance to the working poor and their children. He is recognized for being one of the most effective and thoughtful public benefit advocates in the country.

Chicago DSA has a long history with Chicago Jobs with Justice so we're not exactly impartial when we call them Chicago's premier labor -- community organization. Not long after Jobs with Justice was founded in 1987, Chicago DSA was among the handful of organizations and individuals who worked to get a chapter organized here in Chicago. Since then, Chicago Jobs with Justice has been a vital part of the struggle for universal health care, fair trade rather than free trade, peace rather than war, labor rights, preserving public services, and full employment.

Our featured speaker is Ruth Conniff. She is the Political Editor of The Progressive, a panelist on the PBS show "To the Contrary", and co-editor (with Paul Buhle) of It Started in Wisconsin. Fresh from Wisconsin where the Other America, the real America is fighting back, she will provide an interesting perspective on today's other America.

I hope you will be a part of this year's Dinner. This is going to be a really good event. You won't want to miss it, unless you must, and even then you'll want to be represented in the Dinner's program book. Please do email or call with any questions.

In solidarity,

Robert M. Roman, Secretary
for the Dinner Committee

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