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The 57th Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner convened on May 8 at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on Chicago's near westside. It was a dark and stormy evening but an educational and inspiring event. April Verrett presented the award to Gerry Hudson speaking on "what Hudson means to me": Never shrink from leadership. Hudson reflected on being a "baby socialist" while on the National Committee of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee's Youth Section, and how DSA and SEIU provided him with a political education and a pro-social outlet for his rage at injustice. Jackson Potter emphasized Amisha Patel's role in the labor uprising against Chicago's Establishment. Patel provided a concise reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of that movement. Our featured speaker, Tom Geoghegan, deserves a special mention. His presentation was not oratory. Orations are highly desirable for postprandial speakers if only to keep people awake. But Geoghegan's presentation kept the audience's attention because it spoke directly to their experiences as organizers and activists.


Photos by John Scott
Audio recording by Rita Maniotis
Post production by Bob Roman

Dinner Program Book
Bill Barclay DSA Co-Chair Bill Barclay served as Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

Introduction: 2.1 Mbytes MP3 (2:15)


April Verrett presented the Award to Gerry Hudson.
April Verrett

April Verrett: 5.1 Mbytes (5:34)


Gerry Hudson

Gerry Hudson

For your pioneering work organizing in the health care industry;

For making the education of union members a priority;

For your political activism on behalf of friends of the union movement;

For your leadership on behalf of environmental justice and civil rights;

For building coalitions between the labor and environmental movements;

For your work representing unions in efforts to deal with what may be the existential issue of this century, global warming;

For a lifetime directed at building a non-sectarian and majoritarian left with labor at its core;

The Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas -- Michael Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this Eighth day of May, 2015.

Gerry Hudson: 4.1 Mbytes (4:28)


Jackson Potter & Amisha Patel Jackson Potter presented the Award to Amisha Patel.

Jackson Potter: 4.7 Mbytes (5:05)

Amisha Patel

Amisha Patel

For your work, especially among youth, to end violence against women;

For your labor in the trenches of union organizing;

For your efforts at educating new generations of social justice activists;

For your leadership in building coalitions that are greater than the sum of their parts;

For connecting the issues in the street with the ballot box;

The Eugene V. Debs -- Norman Thomas -- Michael Harrington Dinner Committee does hereby present you with its annual award this Eighth day of May, 2015.

Amisha Patel: 6.6 Mbytes (7:15)

Tom Geoghegan Building New Movements for Change, presented by Tom Geoghegan.

Tom Geoghegan: 26.6 Mbytes (29:00)

The Dinner always concludes with the singing of "Solidarity Forever," this time lead by Chicago DSA secretary Bob Roman.

Bob Roman

Solidarity Forever: 1.8 Mbytes (1:57)

2015 Debs - Thomas - Harrington Dinner

(L to R) April Verrett, Gerry Hudson, Amisha Patel, Tom Geoghegan, Jackson Potter.

Building New Movements for Change

Gerry Hudson

Photo: Good Jobs / Green Jobs, Keith Mellnick


Executive Vice-President, SEIU
Member of the Board: Advancement Project, Blue Green Alliance, Emerald Cities Collaborative, Sidney Hillman Foundation.

Amisha Patel



Executive Director, Grassroots Collaborative, Grassroots Illinois Action
Member of the Board, The Windcall Institute





Attorney: Despres, Schwartz and Geoghegan;
Author, "Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement";
Playwright; Activist; Commentator.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro, Madison & Halsted, Chicago
Cocktails at 6 PM -- Dinner at 7 PM

Tickets must be reserved no later than Tuesday, May 5. A limited number of tickets may (or may not) be available at the door @ $90. Make sure you and your organization appear in the program book. For more details and a mail-in form (PDF) with which to buy tickets, reserved tables or an ad, CLICK HERE.

Feel free to call 773.384.0327 or email with any questions.

To order individual tickets:

If you cannot attend, please consider making a donation:

To order reserved tables:
(tables seat 8)

This event is held under the auspices of the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation with 501c4 tax status.
Contributions are not tax deductible.

Dear Friends:

The 57th Annual Debs ­ Thomas ­ Harrington Dinner will be on Friday evening, May 8, at the Crowne Plaza Chicago Metro on Chicago's near west side. It really is something of a minor miracle that this celebration has continued 57 years, but it has. Maybe it's partly a commitment to a politics and a philosophy that insists on human rights over property rights, democracy and equality. But it's also because, year after year, the Dinner has been a fun, inspirational and educational event. This year promises to be better than average.

The title for this year's event is "Building New Movements for Change," and we are lucky to have an ideal speaker for this topic: Tom Geoghegan. Geoghegan is a labor and civil rights attorney at Depres, Schwartz and Geoghegan. He is also an author, activist, commentator, and playwright. His latest book, Only One Thing Can Save Us: Why America Needs a New Kind of Labor Movement, is precisely the discussion that we need this year. We will have Geoghegan's book available for purchase at a discount that evening.

Our honorees are working examples of building new movements: Gerry Hudson and Amisha Patel.

Gerry Hudson is Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). He is also on the boards of several labor /green and civil rights organizations. As a political activist, he helped organize labor support for Jesse Jackson's presidential efforts and for DSA member David Dinkins' successful campaign for Mayor of New York. Hudson is a leader in building coalitions between the labor movement and the environmental movement and in advocating for environmental justice and for a green industrial policy.

Amisha Patel is the Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative. An SEIU alumnus herself (hospital employees and Head Start workers), Patel turned the Grassroots Collaborative into a coalition that is more than the sum of its parts. Patel and the Grassroots Collaborative have been involved in or have led a laundry list of campaigns and causes, the result of which has helped lay, as Jackson Potter is quoted as saying, "the foundation for this moment." Crain's Chicago Business has recognized her as one of Chicago's young leaders, naming her one of 2014's "40 Under 40" in Chicago.

This Dinner encompasses much of what is needed for labor and the left to survive and grow: leadership, popular education and mobilization, new ideas executed well and boldly, and yes even the paint that didn't stick to the wall. Please come.

CLICK HERE for a flyer with information about ordering tickets. If you cannot attend, or even if you can, please consider an ad in the Dinner Program Book. It's a great way of presenting your message to the Dinner and it helps our work in support of a Financial Transactions Tax, against unfair "free" trade agreements, and in support of the rights of labor. An ad sheet with information about the Dinner's Program Book is also part of the flyer.

If you would like to know more about the history of the Dinner, CLICK HERE. If you would prefer to order tickets on-line, use the secure PayPal buttons above. If you have any questions, please do call (773.384.0327) or email.


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