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Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama File 39 Barack Obama, Carol Moseley Braun and the Chicago Socialist Machine

Obama File 38 here

Barack Obama's spectacular rise in Chicago politics is not a one-off. It is part of a long established pattern.

The left side of Chicago politics likes to come together to back promising candidates for high office.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and more latterly the CPUSA offshoot Committees of Correspondence, have worked together on several occasions to elect "progressive" Democrats.

This alliance started in 1983 with the election of Chicago's first black mayor Harold Washington.

It has worked since to elect Barack Obama to the Illinois State Senate, the US Senate and now the US presidency.

In between Washington and Obama, it helped elect Carol Moseley Braun to the Illinois State Legislature and the US Senate. In some ways Moseley Braun, the first black female Senator in US history was a trial run for the Obama phenomonon.

Moseley Braun's rise was closely linked to both Washington and Obama's. Like them, she was the product and protoge of the far left side of Chicago politics.

Born in 1947, Carol Moseley was raised by a medical technician mother a "socialist" father who worked as a guard in the Cook County Jail.

While still in high school Carol Moseley staged a one-person sit-in at a restaurant that refused to serve her, succeeded in integrating an all-white beach and marched with Martin Luther King.

After law school, Moseley Braun worked as a prosecutor in the United States Attorney's office in Chicago. In 1978 she won a seat in the Illinois State Legislature.

Later she worked for Judson Miner's law firm, as did Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and and former Weather Underground terrorist Bernardine Dohrn.

Moseley Braun became Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's legislative floor leader and sponsored bills to reform education, to ban discrimination in housing and private clubs and to bar the State of Illinois from investing funds in Apartheid South Africa.

Harold Washington was a lifelong Communist Party associate, elected to Chicago's mayoralty in 1983, by a communist/socialist led black/white "liberal"/Latino coalition.

Moseley Braun also had ties to the Communist Party.

In November 1979 she was a co-sponsor of the founding conference of the US Peace Council, a CPUSA front and an affiliate of the Soviet controlled World Peace Council.

Moseley Braun's Peace Council co-sponsors included US Congressmen John Conyers and Ron Dellums, both lifelong CPUSA front operatives and later DSA members.

In May 1987 Moseley Braun helped sponsor, with CPUSA leaders Angela Davis and Herbert Aptheker, a benefit for Chicago Communist Party veterans Claude Lightfoot and Jack Kling.

Also in 1987 Moseley-Braun joined Harold Washington's multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and gender-balanced "Dream Ticket" to successfully run for the office of recorder of deeds. Washington died in office shortly after the election.

While serving as recorder of deeds Moseley-Braun decided to run for US Senate in the 1992 election-with CPUSA backing.

I quote CPUSA official and Obama activist Tim Wheeler, writing in a 1999 issue of People's Weekly World on Chicago CPUSA chairman and Save Our Jobs (SOJ)committee leader, Frank Lumpkin;

Lumpkin also led SOJ into independent political action. They played an important role in the election of Harold Washington as mayor of Chicago, a historic victory over the most entrenched, reactionary political machine in the U.S. Bea (Lumpkin's wife) writes that "At that time, Washington and Lumpkin had a special relationship ... Washington seemed to draw strength from Lumpkin's participation. At meetings rallies, street encounters, whatever, Washington would call Frank over and say, 'When I see you, I know things are in good hands."

Lumpkin was later appointed by Harold Washington to taskforces on hunger and dislocated workers.

Wheeler continues;

SOJ was also an important factor in the election of Charles Hayes, African-American leader of the Meatcutters union, (a covert member of the CPUSA) to take the Congressional seat vacated by Washington, and the election of Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate.

While Carol Moseley-Braun was close to Chicago's Communist Party, other socialist groups also helped her to win elections.

In 1991/92, about a third of the members of the CPUSA broke away to form a new organisation, the Committees of Correspondence. Well known members of CoC include black academic Angela Davis, linguist/activist Noam Chomsky and Timuel Black, Professor (emeritus) City College of Chicago and longtime friend and associate of both Carol Moseley-Braun and Barack Obama.

One lifelong CPUSA member to join the CoC was Chicago activist Hannah Cohen.

From the CoC's Portside;

Hannah was active in Chicago, in what became a lifetime of political and electoral activism. Throughout the new upsurge of the 60s, 70s and 80s, Hannah was an active participant. She was active in teachers union, peace and community groups in Chicago, and later in the international campaign that won the freedom for Angela Davis.

Hannah became a community volunteer in the mayoral campaigns of Harold Washington, and was one of the key volunteers in the election campaign of Carol Mosley Braun, the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate.

DSA also backed Moseley Braun.

One woman, closely associated with the DSA, long time Chicago Democratic Party activist, Sue Purrington played a role in Mosely Braun's decision to run for Senate.

From the Chicago DSA website

The 34th Annual Dinner was held on May 1, 1992 at the Congress Hotel in Chicago. The Master of Ceremonies was Michael Lighty, who was then the Executive Director of DSA. Sue Purrington, the Executive Director of Chicago NOW, and Dr. Quentin Young, President of Physicians for a National Health Program, were the honorees. The featured speaker was Jose LaLuz, who was the National Education Director of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.

Sue Purrington

We honor you as a career fighter for women's rights and equality...

You were instrumental in persuading Carol Moseley Braun to start her campaign to become Senator from Illinois then you produced votes to back up your pledge of support.

Incidentally both Quentin Young and Jose Laluz are DSA members. Young is a long time friend, neighbour and political supporter of Obama's. He was present at the famous meeting in Chicago in 1995 at the home of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn where State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Obama as her chosen successor.

Jose LaLuz, also a leader of Committees of Correspondence and a Peace Council supporter, is currently president of Latinos for Obama.

Another DSA activist associated with Moseley Braun was Milt Cohen.

A long time Chicago Communist Party activist, Cohen later joined the New American Movement, then DSA.

According to the Chicago DSA's New Ground, Cohen was a friend of Harold Washington's.

In 1982, Rep. Harold Washington issued a challenge to register 50,000 new voters in preparation for the coming mayoral election. Milt helped organize a grassroots movement which met the challenge by more than double. Later he chaired the Chicago Coalition for Voter Registration.

Milt joined the 1983 Washington campaign full-time. He later said that hard-won victory was his greatest satisfaction. The Washington movement clearly reflected Milt's long-time priorities: anti-racism, political independence, and progressive multi-racial coalitions.

A few months after his election, Washington issued a proclamation declaring Milton M. Cohen Day a day for Chicagoans to honor a man "who has dedicated his life to the unceasing struggle for the civil and economic rights of all people and has worked for 50 years in the cause of progressive change and reform politics in Chicago and a more democratic, humane and peaceful America and world." Mayor Washington noted that to honor Milt Cohen is to honor "thousands of rank-and-file activists who work day and night in the struggle for jobs, justice, and peace."

And of Moseley Braun's;

Carol Moseley Braun's election to the Senate in 1992 was another landmark for Milt. He had helped recruit Braun for her first legislative race in 1978, and one of his last projects before leaving Chicago was soliciting DSA members to participate in the Braun campaign.

Chicago DSA put a big effort into Carol Moseley Braun's successful Senate campaign.

From Chicago DSA's New Ground;

Progressive forces in Illinois made history November 3 by electing Carol Moseley Braun as the first African-American woman to the US Senate.

Braun beat beat Republican millionaire Rich Williamson soundly, 57%-43%. Former DSA Youth Organizer Jeremy Karpatkin directed Braun's field operations. Chicago DSA contributed volunteers and money to Braun's campaign.

Barack Obama also played a role in Carol Moseley Braun's Senate victory-perhaps the decisive role.

From Chicago Magazine January 1993

A huge black turnout in November 1992 altered Chicago's electoral landscape-and raised a new political star: a 31-year-old lawyer named Barack Obama...

The most effective minority voter registration drive in memory was the result of careful handiwork by Project Vote!, the local chapter of a not-for-profit national organization. "It was the most efficient campaign I have seen in my 20 years in politics," says Sam Burrell, alderman of the West Side's 29th Ward and a veteran of many registration drives.

At the head of this effort was a little-known 31-year-old African-American lawyer, community organizer, and writer: Barack Obama...In 1984, after Columbia but before Harvard, Obama moved to Chicago. "I came because of Harold Washington," he says. "I wanted to do community organizing, and I couldn't think of a better city than one as energized and hopeful as Chicago was then."

By 1991, when Obama, law degree in hand, returned to voter registration and turnout in the city were at their lowest points since record keeping began.

Six months after he took the helm of Chicago's Project Vote!, those conditions had been reversed...Within a few months, Obama, a tall, affable workaholic, had recruited staff and volunteers from black churches, community groups, and politicians.

He helped train 700 deputy registrars, out of a total of 11,000 citywide. And he began a saturation media campaign with the help of black-owned Brainstorm Communications...The group's slogan-"It's a Power Thing"-was ubiquitous in African-American neighborhoods. \"It was overwhelming," says Joseph Gardner, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the director of the steering committee for Project Vote! "The black community in this city had not been so energized and so single-minded since Harold died."

"I think it's fair to say we reinvigorated a slumbering constituency," says Obama. "We got people to take notice."

As for Project Vote! itself, its operations in Chicago have officially closed down. Barack Obama has returned to work on his book, which he plans to complete this month..."We won't let the momentum die," he says. "I'll take personal responsibility for that. We plan to hold politicians' feet to the flames in 1993, to remind them that we can produce a bloc of voters large enough that it cannot be ignored."

Nor can Obama himself be ignored. The success of the voter-registration drive has marked him as the political star the Mayor should perhaps be watching for. "The sky's the limit for Barack," says Burrell.

Some of Daley's closest advisers are similarly impressed. "In its technical demands, a voter-registration drive is not unlike a mini-political campaign," says John Schmidt, chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and a fundraiser for Project Vote! "Barack ran this superbly. I have no doubt he could run an equally good political campaign if that's what he decided to do next."

Obama shrugs off the possibility of running for office. "Who knows?" he says. "But probably not immediately." He smiles.

Project Vote of course was an affiliate of the radical community group ACORN, to which Obama was long connected.

When Obama successfully ran for an Illinois State Senate seat in 1995/96 he was endorsed by DSA. He also joined and was endorsed by the New Party, a front for ACORN, DSA and the Committees of Correspondence.

On March 13th 1998, Saul Mendelson, a lifelong socialist activist died in Chicago.

Mendelson had been a member of various Trotskyist factions in the 1930s and '40s before joining the US Socialist Party and later DSA.

In 1983 Saul Mendelson played a significant role in the election of Harold Washington.

The Saul Mendelson Memorial Service was held on Sunday, March 29, 1998, at the First Unitarian Church, Chicago.

According to Chicago DSA leader, the late Carl Marx Shier (who addressed the gathering);

At the memorial service held at the 1st Unitarian Church on South Woodlawn, speaker after speaker recounted Saul's contributions...speakers included Deborah Meier...Senator Carol Moseley Braun, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, State Senator Barak Obama, Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and a good friend from New York, Myra Russell.

The concluding remarks were made by an old friend, Harriet Lefley, who is now Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami Medical School.

Deborah Meier was a former Trotskyist and Socialist Party comrade of Saul Mendelson's and a leader of Chicago and Boston DSA.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle and Illinois House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, are both leftist Democrats with ties to Chicago's socialist community. Both endorsed Barack Obama in his successful 2004 bid for the US Senate.

Harriet Lefley was a Trotskyist in the 1940s, with Saul Mendelson.

Eulogies also came from Quinn Brisben, (Socialist Party presidential candidate 1976, 1992) and David McReynolds (Socialist Party presidential candidate 1980, 2000).

Both Brisben and McReynolds are also DSA members.

State Senator Barack Obama probably knew Saul Mendelson through their mutual activism in Independent Voters of Illinois, an organisation investigated for communist infiltration as far back as the 1940s.

In 1998 Moseley Braun, enmired in constant scandal, lost her US Senate seat.

President Bill Clinton looked after her however, appointing her as ambassador to an unsuspecting New Zealand.

By 2004 she was back in Chicago talking of running for her old Senate seat. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Moseley Braun instead made a short-lived run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

Seizing the opportunity, Barack Obama ran for Moseley Braun's old Senate seat and was elected-with the active support of the Chicago Communist Party and the Young Communist League.

Perhaps the timing was right?

Obama file 40 here


Blogger Anne said...

Hey Trevor,

The word *Socialist* is coming up on the media here.
Obama sort of did it himself, he told "Joe The Plumber" that we have to spread the wealth around...

Keep up the good work, waiting for file #40.

10:57 PM  
Blogger Freedom Rules 1776 said...

It is comforting to see that there are others in the world that have noticed that our White House is full of communists. We will root them out.

11:55 AM  

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