Michael Eric Dyson

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Michael Eric Dyson


Michael Eric Dyson is a leading U.S. socialist and Barack Obama supporter. Dyson is a professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches Theology, English and African American Studies. He is the author of 14 books including “Debating Race,“ "Come Hell or High Water” and “Is Bill Cosby Right.” He has been named by “Ebony” as one of the 100 Most Influential African Americans.

"A progressive theory of race"

In 1991, Michael Eric Dyson, a teacher ethics and philosophy at Chicago Theological seminary and a member of Democratic Socialists of America wrote an article for Democratic Left, March/April issue , page 7 "Towards a progressive theory of race".

"Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists"

In 1992, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America members published a six-page leaflet, "Raise Hell with Chicago Democratic Socialists", welcoming progressives into membership. It features comments by United Steelworkers leader Ed Sadlowski; Dr. Ron Sable, the Illinois chair of the Physicians for a National Health Plan; Vicki Starr, who appeared in the film Union Maids; political scientist Jane Mansbridge;and theologians Rosemary Reuther and Michael Eric Dyson.[1]

Brown University

In 1993 Michael Eric Dyson, a member of DSA, was a professor of American Civilization and Afro-American Studies at Browm University.[2]

Cuba

Michael Eric Dyson has spoken in Cuba[3];

Because of my writing, I have lectured at universities and in union halls; held forth in junior colleges and in juvenile detention centers; preached in churches and in synagogues, temples, and mosques; addressed civil rights groups and professional gatherings; spoken to public and private grade schools, middle schools, and high schools; engaged adults and adolescents in jails and prisons across America; and traveled over water to deliver talks in Italy and Brazil, in Amsterdam and in Cuba,

In a 1998 interview after visiting Cuba, Michael Eric Dyson described American policy toward Cuba as "simply obscene" and "white supremacy in its reckless, destructive mode."

Cuba visit

In June, 1996 Manning Marable led a delegation of fifteen prominent African Americans to the island of Cuba.

Members of the delegation included: Leith Mullings, Professor of Anthropology, City University of New York; writer/editor Jean Carey Bond; political theorist Clarence Lusane; Columbia University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis; and Michael Eric Dyson, Visiting Professor of African American Studies, Columbia University.

The delegation was hosted by the Center for the Study of the Americas in Havana to engage in a series of conversations about the future of Cuba and its relationship with Black America.[4]

The delegation identified four critical areas for examination: race relations and the status of Afro-Cuban people since the Cuban Revolution; the status of women and gender relations; the impact of economic liberalization and the introduction of private enterprise in Cuba since the end of the Cold War and issues of human rights, civil liberties and political freedom under the Castro government. The ground rules for our visit permitted us to travel anywhere in the island. We were encouraged to interview prominent leaders in government, culture and society.

Always throughout our investigations, delegation members asked questions which had broader implications for Black folk not only in Cuba. but within the U.S.
We met with Alphonso Casanova, the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning, and the chief architect of Cuba’s economic transformation. Casanova explained that Cuba’s gross domestic product was cut in half after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of economic trade with socialist countries. Out of necessity, US. dollars were decriminalized and corporate investnent from Europe, Canada and Mexico was eagerly solicited. By 1997, there were over 300,000 Cubans who had registered as private entrepreneurs with the government. New resort hotels were constructed and a thriving tourist business developed. This year over one million tourists will visit Cuba.
Cuban economists believe that it is possible to adopt elements of capitalism and corporate investment into a socialist system. Casanova states. "Capitalism is a major failure as a socioeconomic and political project."

Nevertheless, the Cuban people had to devise ways to avoid economic collapse and to integrate their economy into world markets. "Throughout the Third World, ‘Cuba is the hope that things can be done differently," Casanova stated.

Safeguarding the interest of Cuban workers is Salvador Valdez Gonzalez, the Minister of Labor and social Security. The minister estimated that Cuba’s current unemployment rate is 6.5%. However, workers who were terminated from their jobs still receive a minimum of 60% of their former salaries. "Our main policy is to maintain the achievements of the Revolution," Valdez explained. Despite their current economic difficulties all healthcare in Cuba is still free, programs for the physically disabled were protected. No hospitals or universities were shut down. In fact, Cuba’s ratio of doctors to the general population, one out of seventy three, is by far the best of any Third World country, and better than many western societies.

Black Radical Congress

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At the 1998 Black Radical Congress in Chicago, one session was entitled;

Faith as a Weapon: Spirituality and the Role of the Church In The Radical Movement. What are the lessons we can learn from Nat Turner, Absalom Jones, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Black ministers as leaders in the struggle? What is the history of spiritual motivation in the radical/liberation movement?

Panelists: Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Linda Thomas, Kevin Tyson[5].

Democratic Socialists of America

Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson

Michael Eric Dyson is a long term member of Democratic Socialists of America.

Religious Socialism is the journal of the Religion and Socialism Commission of Democratic Socialists of America.

In the late 2000s it was edited by Andrew Hammer. Contributing editors were Maxine Phillips, Harvey Cox, Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson.[6]

In 1999 there was a new editorial team at Democratic Socialists of America's Religious Socialism consisting of four co-editors: Maxine Phillips, Andrew Hammer, Rev. Norm Faramelli, and John Cort, assisted by Harvey Cox, Cornel West (Charles West, the Princeton theologian, was also a contributor), Jack Clark, Rev. Judith Deutsch, David O'Brien, and Michael Eric Dyson and Rev. Marcia Dyson. "Grateful mention should also be made of Jack Spooner and Curt Sanders, who kept Religious Socialism alive from 1988 to 1998, with help the last few years from David Seymour and Lew Daly."[7]

Defending Reverend Wright/supporting Barack Obama

Michael Eric Dyson defends Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama

Dyson was a strong defender of Rev. Jeremiah Wright when the pastor's extremist views became a public scandal, during Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election campaign.

Dyson belonged to Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ for three years when he lived in Chicago, while Barack Obama was a parishioner. Dyson claims to have known Obama since 1991 .

Michael Eric Dyson was one of the first major black figures to endorse Barack Obama at the Essence Festival in New Orleans in front of 60,000 people in July 2007[8];

The Democratic senator from Illinois emerged from behind the curtain after an over-the-top introduction from orator Michael Eric Dyson, who proclaimed Obama "the next president of the United States."

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

In 2008 Michael Eric Dyson, Professor, University of Pennsylvania signed a statement circulated by the Partisan Defense Committee calling for the release of convicted “cop-killer” Mumia Abu-Jamal.[9]

New Politics

As of 2009 Michael Eric Dyson served as a sponsor of New Politics, magazine almost completely staffed and run by members of Democratic Socialists of America[10].

Critiquing Obama

Dyson speaks at a conference on March 20, 2010

In the video to the right, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson speaks at the "We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda" Conference in Chicago, Saturday, March 20, 2010.

Tavis Smiley organized and hosted a forum, held on Saturday, March 20, 2010 at Chicago State University on the city’s South Side. The confab offered up a provocative query: Is there room for a black agenda in the “post-racial America” of Barack Obama?

The televised event drew about 3,000 people, heard Smiley lead a four-hour conversation among 12 black intellectuals, educators and activists. The mix included longtime Smiley compatriots, academics like Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson and Julianne Malveaux. Others were longtime black leaders like the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., and Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan. Most of them came, they said, to “lovingly” take Obama to the woodshed.

Detroit bankruptcy fightback

In the wake of the municipal bankruptcy filed by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, on Sept. 7 2014, about 500 people attended a rally sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, Jr. and chaired by Democratic Socialists of America member Professor Michael Eric Dyson, with panelists including the Rev. Wendell Anthony, president of the Detroit NAACP; City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson; Al Garrett, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 25; and columnist Julianne Malveaux. The speakers stressed the need for mass mobilization in the streets to challenge the racist Wall Street attack on Detroit, a majority African-American city.[11]

References