By: Trevor Loudon
Several current or recent members of Congress, including Neil Abercrombie, Mary Jo Kilroy, Jerry Nadler and Bob Filner have close ties to America’s largest Marxist organization, Democratic Socialists of America.
Another to add to the growing list is Jan Schakowsky.
The Illinois Democrat, a member of the far left Congressional Progressive Caucus, has been close to D.S.A., or its preceding organization, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee since the 1970s.
Schakowsky was recruited to help with the famous Chicago Grape Boycott by a young United Farm Workers union leader named Eliseo Medina.
A lifelong socialist, Medina is today executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union and an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America.
Medina and Schakowsky crossed paths again at Chicago D.S.A.’s 2004 Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner.
Eliseo Medina was honored for his union work at the dinner while Jan Schakowsky was keynote speaker.
From Chicago DSA’s New Ground:
Carl Shier introduced the second honoree, SEIU Executive Vice President Eliseo Medina. Shier first met Medina when Medina was a young man sent to Chicago by Cesar Chavez to organize the UFW’s grape boycott in Chicago on $5 dollars a week. Medina worked miracles (including roping young suburban women like Jan Schakowsky into the effort).
When Jan Schakowsky ran for Congress in 1998 she was endorsed by Chicago D.S.A. – as was full-fledged D.S.A. member and currently serving Democratic Congressman Danny Davis.
Jan Schakowsky, U.S. House of Representatives, 9th District
Jan Schakowsky is running for Sid Yates old position. Like Danny Davis, she’s an old friend of DSA and a real fighter.
Jan Schakowsky was herself honored at Chicago D.S.A’s May 2000 Dinner for her “work in Congress and the community.” Schakowsky received her award from no less a dignitary than Chicago D.S.A. icon, the since deceased Carl Marx Shier.
Carl Shier, Jan Schakowsky
In your early days as a consumer advocate, you began the fight for freshness dates on products sold in supermarkets. As Program Director of Illinois Public Action, you fought for energy reform and stronger protection from toxic chemicals. As Executive Director of the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens, you helped organize across the state for universal and comprehensive health care, for lowering the cost of prescription drugs, for financial protection for spouses of residents in nursing homes.
As an Illinois State Representative, you served your constituency well for four terms. You were an outstanding Chair of the Labor and Commerce Committee. You served on the Human Services, Appropriation, Health Care, and Electric Deregulation Committees. You were a Democratic Party Floor Leader and served as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators.
Your dedication to the people was rewarded by a great grassroots campaign, with hundreds of street volunteers, when you chose to run for the United States House of Representatives. Your first term in Congress has been outstanding. You have been an outstanding voice for seniors, labor union members, women and children. You have continued your advocacy of universal health care through your membership on the Health Care and Medicare Task Forces. Through your work, you were appointed to a leadership whip position.
Your work and your life honors the memory of Eugene V. Debs, Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington and continues their legacy of struggle for social justice.
For your dedication to the fight for a just society, the Debs-Thomas-Harrington Dinner Committee hereby presents to you its annual award on this 5th day of May, 2000.
Jan Schakowsky also attended the 35th Annual Eugene V. Debs-Norman Thomas-Michael Harrington Dinner on May 7th 1993.
In 2002, Schakowsky showed Chicago D.S.A. some love, with this paid ad in that years Debs Dinner program.
Jan Schakowsky has been one of Congress’ most loyal and consistent Barack Obama supporters. Unsurprising perhaps as President Obama also has a long history with Democratic Socialists of America.
At the 2004 46th Annual Eugene V Debs-Norman Thomas-Michael Harrington Dinner in Chicago, Jan Schakowsky told the story of a meeting in Washington with U.S. president George Bush.
The Congressional Black Caucus had demanded a meeting with President Bush to discuss the situation in Haiti.
Schakowsky had also been invited because of her strong interest in the issue.
According to Chicago D.S.A’.s New Ground:
Bush finally, at the insistence of caucus members, made it to this meeting and spent enough time to display his ignorance of the issue. He noticed Jan, a lone white face, and seemed to “jump back” when he saw her button. Osama? No, Mr. President. Barack Obama, and you’ll be hearing from him when he becomes the Senator from Illinois.
That’s what socialism’s all about, helping each other out and sticking together.