Daraka Larimore-Hall

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Daraka Larimore-Hall


Daraka Larimore-Hall is a California activist. He has been Secretary of the California Democratic Party since April 2013.

Background

Daraka Larimore-Hall grew up in Santa Barbara, where he first got involved in activism as a high school student opposing the first Gulf War. Raised in an activist family, "Daraka's background forged his strong commitment to social justice, and some of his earliest family memories are from anti-Apartheid and nuclear disarmament protests".

Since graduating with honors from the University of Chicago in 1999, Daraka has worked as a political organizer on electoral and issue-based campaigns throughout the United States and Europe. In 2001-2002, he worked as an anti-racism and election organizer in Norway and Sweden. From 2003 until 2011, he was an activist and officer in UAW Local 2865, the union for Teaching Assistants at the University of California. He is currently finishing a PhD in Sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara.

For the past seven years, Daraka has been chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County. He has served as Vice President of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, and is currently Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party Labor Caucus.

As a Democratic Party activist, Daraka has focused on creating more opportunities for leadership for young people and expanding the Party's role in local elections and community issues. He strongly believes that electing Democrats is only the start of the Party's job, and that we must engage in advocacy and organizing that holds elected representatives to our cherished values of equality, peace, freedom and fairness.[1]

DSA Youth Section

In 1995 Daraka Larimore-Hall was a co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America Youth Section, is a sophomore at the University of Chicago.[2]

DSA activist

Daraka Larimore-Hall, Chicago DSA, elected to the Democratic Socialists of America National Political Committee, at the November 1997 DSA National Convention in Columbus Ohio[3].

In 1997, Daraka Larimore-Hall was the University of Chicago contact for Democratic Socialists of America.[4]

Socialists Urge End of Fragmentation

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96-06-26 an email was sent from David McReynolds and several other socialists, headed "Socialists Urge End of Fragmentation"

The following open letter has been sent to the organizations listed below.
The letter was drafted by Ethan Young, who has been connected with Crossroads, in consultation with a number of concerned individuals in all of the groups listed.
Fraternally,
David McReynolds, member, Socialist Party USA, New York City, June 26, 1996

To: The National Convention of the Committees of Correspondence

As members of the groups listed above, we have joined together out of concern for the future of the organized socialist left. We have two concrete proposals that are being submitted to all of our groups simultaneously, so that they might be discussed and, if accepted, acted on as soon as possible.
1. We propose that joint regional meetings of our six groups be organized for members and invited individuals, as outlined in the June 1996 issue of CROSSROADS.
2. We propose that organizing begin immediately for a national conference of socialist youth in Fall 1997, initiated by the youth members and affiliates of the six groups, but open to co-sponsorship by other agreed-upon groups and individuals.

Detroit DSA training

In 2000, Greater Detroit Democratic Socialists of America hosted National Director Horace Small, YDS organizer Daraka Larimore-Hall, and development expert Sue Karant at an organizing weekend, coinciding with the Black Radical Congress national meetings.

The goal of this workshop was to train local DSA members in the rudiments of organizing local campaigns and fundraising so that we may expand our efforts on Living Wage, Universal Health Care, and Globalization campaigns.[5]

Battle in Seattle

Young Democratic Socialists staff organizer Daraka Larimore-Hall, was the final speaker in the film "Battle in Seattle" [6]

The Activist

In 2001, the Editorial Board, of The Activist - journal of the Young Democratic Socialists, consisted of[7];

Cover illustrations were by Oscar Owens. Layout by Tracie McMillan.

Working through the Democrats

Former Young Democratic Socialists' National Organizer, Daraka Larimore-Hall, outlined his approach to the 2004 elections[8].

Imagine an America in which socialism is part of our political landscape. Imagine an America in which the Right couldn't destroy any initiative for social justice by simply labeling it with the "s" word. Imagine an America in which the values of solidarity and equality are defended by politicians with the same vigor as liberty and security.
We know what the alternative looks like. In today's America, it is difficult to fight for even limited progress against poverty, against hunger, against injustice in the workplace because mainstream politicians are not "able" to talk about the big questions of power and privilege without being denounced as "crazy", "radical" or worst of all, "socialist." We can blame the politicians, we can vote for the most radical option no matter their chances of winning, or we can go out and build the kinds of movements which would make progressive politics possible...
Our job, as Democratic Socialists, is to help build a movement that will bring about a change in the political order. That means joining with and working beside communities and social movements which fight for freedom and justice. It also means arguing for the connections between those struggles, and helping to create a new, progressive majority in America. That majority won't be socialist. Not everyone will agree with us. However, it is only as part of that majority that our ideas can become part of the political debate. Our ideas must be linked to people's everyday experience, and our work must be rooted in struggles that help people take power over their own lives. Otherwise, we are just a coffee-shop collection of romantic idealists.
We in the democratic left are not trying to "lead" people, or to tell social movements their business. A majority of activists of color, unions, feminists, queer activists and environmentalists have made the political choice to work within the Democratic Party. For that reason, democratic socialists should also work as Democrats. Of course, that's not all we do, but we share with these movements a belief that Republicans are worth beating, and that many (but not most) Democratic politicians are part of the progressive majority we hope to strengthen. Even those good Democrats need the pressure of people's movements to allow them to create policies which foster a long-term change in America's power structure.
We must move beyond the "reform or revolution" debate, and understand that not all reforms are born equal. Some reforms are structural. A raise in the minimum wage is a good thing, but it doesn't change the power structure. Changing our labor laws so that it is easier to form unions is a reform that shifts the balance of power between employers and employees. Our role as socialists is to transform the political debate in America so that such "non-reformist reforms" can be fought for and won. Even if a majority of Americans are never socialists, without a loud democratic socialist voice within a larger progressive coalition, such deep changes will never make it onto the agenda.
This is more than a strategic question, though. We believe that our values are shared by millions of Americans, and we can speak to them if we can speak a language which makes sense. Our brand of socialism is part of a long-standing American tradition- a liberal tradition. At the heart of American liberalism is a deeply progressive impulse, critical of corporate power, dedicated to democracy and human equality. As democratic socialists, we don't think that this impulse is enough. It must be backed up by a political commitment to equality. If you really want to insure prosperity, equal opportunity, racial and gender equality and global justice, you must address the problems at the root of the capitalist system. Liberalism is a great start, but in order to fulfill its own goals, it must confront the structural problems of global capitalism.

Concretely, this means that our number-one priority between now and November should be defeating George Bush. The bottom line is that this will happen only if we elect a Democrat. However, while we are out campaigning for John Kerry, we should be arguing that there is only so much that he can do to help the cause of global justice. Social change comes from below, and we have a long road ahead of us. These two tasks do not stand in contradiction. We can believe that a better world is possible, and still understand that we live in the world of today.

Santa Barbara Democrat

In 2009 Daraka Larimore-Hall, chairman of the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, responded to negative ads against the Democrat linked slate in the local council elections. He said that Preserve Our Santa Barbara’s ads were “increasingly gross” and that they were entering “Glenn Beck territory[9].”

“We all worked hard to defeat the politics of the Bush era, where wealth beats democracy, scapegoating beats dialog and demagoguery beats discussion...Why should we let someone bring that nastiness to Santa Barbara? This is less about ‘going negative’ as it is about making sure people know where all these mailers and radio and TV ads are coming from.”

Elkarra connection

Basim Elkarra, Daraka Larimore-Hall, 2013

References