Solidarity Summer School 2017: Program

For a complete list of sessions and when they’ll take place, see the schedule page. The following program covers most of the scheduled sessions, but all will be described in the program booklet sent to all registered attendees.

Contesting Neoliberalism and Imperialism in Latin America

International guests from Mexico and Puerto Rico will discuss the state of left movements in Latin America, including resistance to U.S. imperialism and neoliberalism, the Puerto Rican debt crisis and student strike, and more. They will be joined by solidarity activists in the United States to discuss how we fight imperialism and support Latin American movements from within the U.S.


  • Edgard Sanchez, Revolutionary Workers’ Party (Partido Revolutionario Trabajadores, PRT), Mexico City
  • Camilo Punsoda, Puerto Rico’s Working People’s Party (Partido del Pubelo Trabajdor, PPT), San Juan
  • Vicki Cervantes, North American coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network, founding member of La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago
  • Lucila Conde, organizer in Mexico solidarity movement, San Diego

Indigenous Struggles, Sovereignty, and Ecology

Over the past ten years, cross-border organizing against the Keystone XL galvanized a new mass ecological movement with Native leaders on the frontlines. The Idle No More movement, demanding an end to resource exploitation and treaty violations, quickly transcended the Canadian state and highly visible solidarity actions erupted in malls and other public spaces throughout the U.S. The struggle at Standing Rock and the broader #NoDAPL movement confirmed that a new phase in Native struggles has emerged throughout Turtle Island.

This session will examine this new phase of struggle, including firsthand accounts of local actions from American Indian activists and allies/accomplices. We will also discuss the intersections–both cooperation and tensions–between the broad environmental movement and Native peoples struggling for rights and sovereignty.


  • Dallas Goldtooth, Mdewakanton Dakota and Dine, Keep It In The Ground organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Yolonda Blue Horse, Rosebud Sioux, co-founder of the Society of Native Nations in Texas
  • Robert Caldwell, Choctaw-Apache tribe of Ebarb, co-founder of the Ho-Minti Society, Ph.D. candidate in Transatlantic History at the University of Texas at Arlington
  • Rebecca Kemble, alderperson for Madison Wisconsin District 18, past President of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives

Local Elections: Graveyard of Social Movements or Site of Struggle?

Socialists are running for state and local office more than any time in recent memory. These efforts are supported by local electoral formations like the Richmond Progressive Alliance in California, state-level third parties like the Vermont Progressive Party, a number national networks, reform groups like Our Revolution, the Green Party, and socialist organizations themselves. Some more recent efforts have developed from the need to go beyond single-issues to build local grassroots responses, and a need to build resistance to the politics of Donald Trump’s presidency.

This panel will examine the problems and pitfalls of socialists running for local office, as well as the challenges that are faced by left-wing public officials once in office. It will discuss the openings for deepening the fight for immigrant rights, police accountability, environmental protection, affordable housing, minimum wage improvements and other reforms, as well as strengthening the independent movements. Finally, the panel will discuss the limitations of local electoral politics and discuss the relationship of these local efforts to building a U.S.- wide independent electoral movement.


  • Rebecca Kemble, alderperson in Madison, WI
  • Marsha Rummel, president of Madison Common Council
  • Howie Hawkins, Green Party candidate for Mayor (and former candidate for Governor), Syracuse, NY
  • Amelia Parker, City Council candidate in Knoxville, TN
  • Emma Tai, Executive Director of United Working Families, Chicago, IL
  • Alec Hudson, United Neighbors of the 35th Ward, DSA, Chicago, IL

Self-determination and National Liberation

The United States was built on a history of genocide, slavery, land theft, and the exploitation and scapegoating of immigrants. Capitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy have deep historical and structural connections, therefore overcoming white supremacy and national oppression, and fighting imperialism through engaged internationalism are central tasks of a revolutionary socialist movement.

This introductory workshop will introduce concepts of internationalism, socialism from below, and support for self determination of oppressed peoples. It will outline why self-determination matters to socialists and briefly frame the history of revolutionary socialists on the “national question.”


  • Kali Akuno, Cooperation Jackson
  • Robert Caldwell, Choctaw-Apache tribe of Ebarb, co-founder of the Ho-Minti Society, Ph.D. candidate in Transatlantic History at the University of Texas at Arlington
  • Rhiana Anthony, Black Land and Liberation Initiative, Black Lives Matter Nashville

Expanding Sanctuary and Defending Communities

Many U.S. cities have adopted “sanctuary city” status, claiming to be safe places for immigrants, but in practice this has often meant little beyond rhetoric. Organizers across the country have been working to expand and strengthen these possibilities to create policies and practices for cities, schools, and other institutions that are more robust and meaningful. This workshop will explore these efforts and discuss strategic approaches to this work.


  • Promise Li, co-chair of the Sanctuary City Working Group of DSA Los Angeles
  • Marcos Ceniceros, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council
  • Rebecca Martinez, Chicago Teachers Union and Latino Union

Radical Visions for Housing Justice

Capitalism treats basic human rights like housing as commodities, displacing people and whole communities as it reaps profits from rent and gentrification. Housing justice organizers from a number of cities will discuss their work and the difficult questions that arise from reconciling radical socialist visions with the realities of development practices and existing housing policy.


  • Daniel Clain, Solidarity member and housing justice activist in Milwaukee, WI
  • Michael Gilliland, Solidarity member and housing justice activist in Chattanooga, TN
  • Ryne Poelker, Uptown Tent City and Northside Action for Justice, Chicago, IL
  • Dianne Feeley, Detroit Eviction Defense

A Rank and File Strategy for Labor

An intergenerational panel of labor activists will discuss the challenges of bringing revolutionary working class politics to an often complacent and bureaucratic labor movement. Discussion will cover the relevance of the rank and file strategy to today’s activists, and how socialist politics guide our work in the labor movement.


  • Jane Slaughter, retired editor/co-director of Labor notes, Detroit
  • Wendy Thompson, community activist and former president of UAW local 235, Detroit
  • Norine Gutekanst, Chicago Teachers Union organizer, member of Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE)
  • Nina Chacker, teacher in Detroit Public Schools
  • Zack Pattin, ILWU Local 23 Young Workers Committee, Tacoma, WA

Socialists in Movements: Organizing and Revolutionary Demands

How can we as socialists work towards revolution without leaving the immediate needs of our communities behind? Can socialists engage in reform work without becoming reformists? Can we use reform work to transition to revolutionary goals? In this popular education-style workshop, we will discuss how socialism can shape our organizing and demands.


  • Mike Cannon, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM) and Solidarity, Nashville TN
  • Kaitlin Malick, Solidarity, Nashville TN

Socialist Politics 101

An interactive and participatory workshop especially for newer activists. It will be organized around 3 questions: What’s wrong with capitalism? How is socialism a solution to those problems? What kind of organizing do we need to build a socialist movement?

As part of the workshop, participants will develop a short presentation on these issues tailored for the kind of political work or social sector in which they are active.


  • Alison Baldree, Solidarity, Kansas City
  • Luke Pretz, Solidarity, Kansas City
  • Dave Grosser, CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), Boston

Socialist-Feminist Organizing: Why Feminists Should Be Socialists and Socialists Should Be Feminists

A moderated discussion of inter-generational feminists will discuss: What does a feminism for the 99% actually look like? How do pro-choice and reproductive justice frameworks differ and what does it mean for our organizing? What does socialist feminism organizing actually look like? How do women self-organizing strengthen working class organizing? and more!


  • Johanna Brenner, author of Women and the Politics of Class
  • Rachel Johnson, DSA Chicago
  • Whitney Washington, Nashville Feminist Collective and Black Lives Matter Nashville

Social and Ecological Justice in Appalachia

Organizers based in central Appalachia will discuss issues facing Appalachian communities and the innovative grassroots organizing efforts seeking to address them throughout the region.


  • Adam Hughes, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM), Knoxville TN
  • Katie Myers, Solidarity, Knoxville TN

Ecosocialism and Environmental Justice

Environmental degradation impacts humanity, and the world we live in, differently. In building an environmental movement that will not only challenge profitability above all other costs but will seek justice, what are the principles that can guide us? Come and discuss the issues and problems we face as we work toward a sustainable and anti-capitalist society.


  • Dianne Feeley, Ecosocialist Working Group of Solidarity, Detroit MI
  • Sandra Lindberg, Ecosocialist Working Group of Solidarity, Decatur IL
  • Yolonda Blue Horse, Rosebud Sioux, co-founder of the Society of Native Nations in Texas

Disability Justice

This workshop provides a primer on disability rights versus disability justice, and outlines the current state of the disability/Deaf communities’ liberation. Participants will learn about different forms of ableism and their inextricable ties to racial-economic disenfranchisement and oppression.


  • Timotheus Gordon, Jr., Harriet Tubman Collective, Chicago IL

Confronting the Far Right: A Dialogue on Strategy and Tactics

Everyone on the left, regardless of their affinities to anarchist or socialist traditions, agrees that it is crucial to organize to confront the Alt-Right in our cities and on our campuses. But disagreements about strategy and tactics are becoming deeply divisive. In this workshop we will try to gain clarity about the arguments in play and consider how, in practice, we might move toward more effective collaboration in action.

Facilitated by Solidarity members Adam Hefty, Ashley Houston, and Johanna Brenner

What kind of socialist organization(s) do we need?

After the Bernie Sanders campaign, socialist organizations saw a boom in membership. With more people interested in the idea of socialism, what kind of socialist organizations do we need? What is the difference between “revolutionary socialism” and “democratic socialism?” How do the existing socialist organizations differ from each other? How can our organizations steer between reformism and ultra-leftism? This panel will tackle these questions and more.


  • Joanna Misnik, Solidarity and DSA, Chicago, IL
  • Rebecca O’Shea, Kentucky Workers League, Lexington, KY
  • AJ Reed, Socialist Party USA, Sterling, IL
  • Micah Uetricht, Jacobin Magazine, DSA, and Solidarity, Chicago, IL

Organizing in the South

This session will be a roundtable discussion between organizers from a variety of movements and cities across the South. A few organizers will share their thoughts followed by a fishbowl style discussion with questions posed to any and all Southerners present at the workshop.


  • Rhiana Anthony, Black Land and Liberation Initiative, Black Lives Matter Nashville
  • Whitney Washington, Nashville Feminist Collective, Black Lives Matter Nashville
  • Robert Feria, San Antonio Progressive Alliance
  • Katie Myers, Solidarity, Knoxville TN
  • Michael Gilliland, Solidarity, Chattanooga, TN

Aspects of International Solidarity Movements in the US

Activists from a variety of backgrounds will discuss various types of organizing in the Palestine solidarity movement and that movement’s history.


  • Benjamin Balthaser, Jewish Voices for Peace, Chicago
  • Jodi Voice Yellowfish, Mvskoke Creek, Oglala Sioux, and Cherokee, Indian Citizens Against Racial Exploitation, Dallas/Fort Worth
  • David Grosser, CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), Solidarity, Boston

Secrets of a Successful Organizer: Turning an Issue into a Campaign

Everybody has complaints and frustrations, but an organizer has the skills to turn problems into opportunities. Learn how to sort the issues you hear from community members or co-workers, bring people together, and make an escalating plan to solve the problem.


  • Jane Slaughter, Labor Notes


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