Boston Democratic Socialists of America

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Boston Democratic Socialists of America is one of the largest Democratic Socialists of America locals. Boston DSA was entitled to 11 delegates to the 2007 DSA National Convention in Atlanta, based on 208 members.

In 2007, Boston was tied with Detroit for the third largest local.[1]

2021 DSA convention delegates

National Political Committee Nominee Candidate Matt Miller

National Convention Delegate Candidates Peter Berard, Ryan Black, Spencer Brown, Ben Caine, Kit Cali, Bruce Castonguay, Amos Chen, Toya Chester, Jeremy DaCruz, Per Davidson, Daniel Davis, Henry De Groot, Lawrence Dreyfuss, Chris F, Ann Finkel, Clare Fitzgerald, Benjamin Gammage, Paul Garver, Mike Goodman, Ari Grant-Sasson, David Grosser, Adam Haber, Kit Haines, Eric Holmberg, Beth Huang, Jessie L, Evan Lemire, Jesse Levine, Morgan Lloyd, Stephen Mahood, John Mancuso, Perri Meldon, Sarah Melton, Matt Miller, Emilia Morgan, Andrew Murano, Karry Muzzey, Desmond O'Halloran, Trent Parker, Binx Perino, Daniel Saari, Eve Seitchik, Ben Silverman, Christopher Strumfels, Penelope Taylor, Erik Van Vlack, Manny Veiga, Matt Walsh, Calla Walsh, Nick Watter, Avir Waxman, Russell Weiss-Irwin, Tyler Wilkinson, Will Winter, Lisa Xu, Grant Young[2]

Leaders 2018

Nafis Hasan is the co-chair of Boston Democratic Socialists of America Ecosocialism working group and involved with the chapter's #TakeBackTheGrid energy democracy campaign.[4]

2021 endorsed candidates

In late May, Charlotte Kelly spoke to a half-dozen volunteers ready to knock doors for her City Council of Somerville campaign.

Kelly is one of seven candidates running for Somerville City Council who has been endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). This slate of campaigns is bound not just by the idea of winning socialism in a general sense, but specific, concrete reforms to pave the way. To get there, the candidates demonstrate intricate knowledge of policy battles and embed themselves in community organizing, but it’s more than that, too: their proposals for the future drill down to the details. According to Spencer Brown, co-chair of Boston Democratic Socialists of America, the election centers on three issues of daily life—affordable housing, climate change, and public safety—and in addressing those issues the DSA-endorsed candidates move seamlessly from broad-stroke abstractions to net zero stretch code and idling police cruisers. The slate in Somerville has the potential to translate the grand aim of socialism into the minutiae of city politics.

Besides the mayor, Somerville’s municipal government includes an 11-seat city council, with four at-large and seven district seats. Two of the incumbent district councilors are also endorsed DSA members: JT Scott in Ward 2 and Ben Ewen-Campen in Ward 3. Beyond the incumbents, the socialist slate features five candidates running in open races, including three for the four at-large seats—Charlotte Kelly, Eve Seitchik, and Willie Burnley, Jr.—and two more for district seats—Tessa Bridge for Ward 5 and Becca Miller for Ward 7. According to a spreadsheet by Calla Walsh, data from the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance shows that, as of the end of June, all seven DSA district candidates lead their races in fundraising (though Miller leads what may be the tightest district race by less than $2,000).

But it’s important to consider the slate collectively, Boston DSA co-chair Brown said. For some, the decision to run itself was collective and contingent on others’ running, but also prompted by the disappointments of the current Council’s governance. On paper, the Council looks like a fairly left-leaning legislative body. Besides the two socialist incumbents, a clear majority identify as “progressive.” Back in 2017, coming off of Bernie’s first run, Our Revolution secured a wave of victories in the city. But amid the uprising against police brutality sparked by the state murder of George Floyd, the Council failed to implement a full 10 percent cut to police spending, a decision some candidates cite as something a socialist-majority Council would have done differently.[5]

2017 electoral successes

Says Matt Miller, the "Boston area chapter of Democratic Socialists of America (Boston DSA) is pleased to announce that our endorsed candidates performed very well in the 2017 elections. We endorsed candidates in the Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston municipal elections and knocked on over 12,000 doors across the three cities."

“Our victories last night show that democratic socialist candidates can win when we put the weight of our ever-growing organization behind them. Now we’ll hold our candidates to their bold promises and continue organizing in our communities to pave the way for housing justice,” says Presley Pizzo, a leader of the Boston DSA Electoral Politics Working Group and Somerville resident.

After coming in second in a very close primary this September, Boston DSA endorsed candidate Lydia Edwards won an upset victory in her run for Boston City Council in District 1. Edwards captured 52.8% of the vote with 6897 votes, thanks at least in part due to Boston DSA volunteers knocking on thousands of doors. This endorsement came in recognition of Edwards long track record of advocacy for workers’ rights, most notably her work that lead to the passage of the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in 2015.

Meanwhile in Somerville, Boston DSA endorsed and directed volunteer efforts for DSA members JT Scott (Ward 2) and Ben Ewen-Campen (Ward 3), as well as endorsing Jesse Clingan for Ward 4, and Will Mbah for Alderman-at-large. All four candidates were part of an Our Revolution Somerville slate and won their respective races, a major accomplishment considering Ewen-Campen and Scott were both first-time candidates who unseated long-time incumbents, with 58 percent and 57 percent of the vote, respectively.

“In Somerville, Boston DSA showed its political force by mobilizing young people and working-class residents. We are proud that two DSA members won their elections and will undermine the status quo that favors developers over working people in Somerville,” says Pizzo.

In Cambridge, Boston DSA endorsed four city council candidates. Of those that were endorsed, Sumbul Siddiqui, Quinton Zondervan, and Dennis Carlone were elected to the Cambridge city council.

“Thank you to all of our members who put painstaking effort into electing our endorsed candidates! We are overjoyed to see that our hard work has paid off, but now we must now look forward. This is just the beginning. Boston DSA plans to hold elected officials, especially our endorsed candidates, accountable as we work to eradicate capitalism in the pursuit of a socialist future,” says Simran Fitzgerald, a leader of the Boston DSA Electoral Politics Working Group and Cambridge resident.[6]

Boston DSA Libertarian Socialist Caucus

Boston Democratic Socialists of America Libertarian Socialist Caucus October 15 2018:·

Thank you so much to everyone that came out for our founding convention yesterday. We had ~40 people in attendance!


We had a great day talking about Libertarian Socialism and brainstormed a bunch of awesome project ideas together. We can’t wait to get to work! — with Valerie Young, Anna Ronan, Brian Moen, Presley Pizzo, Kit Cali, Jessica Marie Smith, Paul Goldberg, Maria Cristina FE and Benjamin Staffin.

Democratic Socialists of America - Boston Public Group


David Knuttunen shared a Page, January 2017;[7]

Just a reminder that this group is not officially an organ of Democratic Socialists of America, although the Admins are members, and a lot of members post here from time to time. We reserve the right to kick people out for trolling or spamming, but otherwise we don't do a lot of vetting of would-be group members. Which is cool, because we value everybody's point of view. But views posted in this group are those of the poster, only.



More names had been added by October 15, 2017.

More names had been added by June 2, 2018;

More names had been added by June 17 2019:

Boston DSA Musician's Caucus


Boston DSA Musician's Caucus Closed Facebook Group, as of August 28, 2017;[8]



Boston Dem Sox: DSA Boston pickup softball


Boston Dem Sox: DSA Boston pickup softball closed Facebook group, accessed November 1, 2017.

We play softball sometimes! No athletic skill or experience necessary.[9]



2001 Boston DSA executive

Boston Democratic Socialists of America members met January 2001 to elect an Executive Board for another year and discuss political priorities. All current members were re-elected with the exception of Harris Gruman, who declined another term as Chair to focus on his new position as Director of Massachusetts Neighbor to Neighbor. Former DSA National Director Jack Clark "will replace Harris as Chair". Returning E Board members included David Knuttunen, Martha Older, Vic Bloomberg, Jack Bray and Barry Hart. David Keil and Mike Pattberg were also re-elected Yankee Radical editors; so was Joe Morgan as Treasurer Emeritus. In addition, two new recruits were “drafted,” Allen Graubard and Adele Greenberg.[10]

2002 executive

The Boston DSA 2002 executive included Massachusetts Teachers lobbyist) Julie Johnson. To fill Jack Clark’s shoes the members elected as cochairs Vic Bloomberg and Mike Pattberg. Other returning E Board members include Joe Morgan as Treasurer, David Keil and Mike Pattberg as YR editors, David Knuttunen, Jack Bray, Adele Greenberg, Martha Older, Barry Hart, Allen Graubard, and Jeff Knudsen as databaser at large.[11]

2005 executive

Board members at large elected to help steer Boston Democratic Socialists of America through 2005 include David Knuttunen, Barry Hart and Vic Bloomberg. In addition, Jim Goldberg was drafted (in absentia!) for another year as Treasurer. Mike Pattberg was elected Chair of the Local and editor (along with Andrea Costello) of The Yankee Radical.[12]

1994 "single payer" health care campaign

Boston DSA helped win a small but symbolic victory for single payer health care in a little noticed campaign in Massachusetts.

A coalition that included DSA put a question supporting single payer health care on the November 8 ballot in seven state senate districts and one state representative district. The eight districts covered nearly 20 percent of the state's voters, and spanned the state geographically from Gloucester to Springfield. The pro-single payer question won. gaining more "Yes" votes than "No" votes in six of the eight districts where it was on the ballot.

Boston DSA was active in the campaign at the statewide coordinating committee level, and in at least four of the local ballot committees, including the one that achieved the highest ratio of "Yes" to "No" votes of any district.[13]

1995 health care activism

In 1995,Boston DSA heard DSA National Director Alan Charney at an August "retreat and radical Bar-B-Q" at the home of Democratic State Representative Jim Marzilli in Arlington. Charney worked with local leaders to develop a strategic plan for the local's work.

That plan "will certainly include continued participation" in Mass-Care, the coalition for a state singlepayer health care plan for Massachusetts. Harris Gruman, a co-founder of Colorado DSA, recently joined Mass-Care's staff.[14]

Working Family Agenda

In 2000 Boston DSA’s biggest ongoing project was the Working Family Agenda, a "state-wide coalition effort to raise the minimum wage — which passed the State House with help from former Boston DSA Chair, State Representative Jim Marzilli".[15]

Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards Dinner


Boston DSA's Debs-Thomas-Bernstein dinner was held in May, with its awards given to three women who have demonstrated noteworthy service in the field of reproductive choice. The honorees were Nicki Nichols Gamble, executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts; Pam Nourse, executive director of Massachusetts Choice; and Helene Weitzenkorn, president of NOWs Massachusetts chapter.[16]


Over 140 people attended the local's annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Award Reception on June 15. Honorees were two outstanding women trade union leaders: Sandy Felder, the president of Service Employees Local 509, and Celia Wcislo, president of SEIU Local 285.

The local also organized a public memorial for Irving Howe, which was held on June 8; Fran Schlitt and Jacob Schlitt and Randall Kennedy spoke. [17]


Boston DSA's annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Dinner was held on June 1 at the Dante Aligheri Center in Cambridge. 1995's honorees were Byron Rushing, a longtime civil rights activist who represents Boston's South End in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and Carin Schiewe, the direct or of the Commonwealth Coalition, a grassroots alliance working to elect progressive candidates to the State House.

A special Michacl Harrington Award was given to Lewis Coser, the distinguished sociologist who was a founding member of DSA and a founding editor of Dissent magazine.[18]


On June 12, 2001 Boston Democratic Socialists of America presented its annual award to "leaders who fight for democracy, here at home and around the world". Ed Clark and Dessima Williams received the Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Award, and John Maher received the Michael Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award. The reception took place at the home of Marcia Peters and David Karaus in Jamaica Plain.[19]





On June 13, 2002 Boston Democratic Socialists of America presented its 25th Annual Debs–Thomas–Bernstein Awards to "leaders who fight for democracy, here at home and around the world". State Representatives Pat Jehlen and Anne Paulsen, Co-Chairs of the Progressive Legislators Group received the award. Ellen Feingold, the earliest known recipient (1979) spoke on the history of the organization. Boston Democratic Socialists of America was a patron of the reception.

Barbara Ackermann of MASS-CARE, Jim St. George of TEAM helped organize the reception. Longtime DSAers Fran Schlitt and Jake Schlitt made introductions. Rep. Frank I. Smizik stepped in as M.C. for wife Julie Smizik who had been scheduled to M.C. the reception. The reception was held in the home of Marcia Peters and David Karaus. Congressmen Mike Capuano and Jim McGovern, Senator John Kerry, and 2001 awardee Dessima Williams sent greetings to the reception.

The following were involved with the reception:[21]





On September 24, 2006, Boston Democratic Socialists of America presented its annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Award to "our longtime comrade, Director of Massachusetts Neighbor to Neighbor, Harris Gruman". Hosted by former Neighbor to Neighbor Director John Maher and Co-Chaired by Senator Pat Jehlen and MA AFL-CIO Vice President Ed Collins, the event was also a fundraiser for both Boston DSA and the Mass Alliance. Some Alliance-endorsed candidates were among the attendees, including Denise Provost, Jarrett Barrios, Willie Mae Allen, Claire Naughton and Will Brownsberger. Political Director Georgia Hollister Isman explained how the Mass Alliance helps elect progressives to the MA legislature, and introduced some of the candidates.

Pat Jehlen and John Mayer noted how Harris combines the skills and abilities of an ace precinct captain and shrewd political strategist with a vast knowledge of the more obscure Austria, Italy, which undoubtably comes in handy on the campaign trail.

Hosts were John Maher and Ellen Sarkisian, "perennial" MC was Julie Johnson of the Mass Teachers Association and DSA, primary organizers were Susan Davidoff and Mike Pattberg.[22]





On September 27, 2007, Boston Democratic Socialists of America presented its annual Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Award to a couple Marie Kennedy and Chris Tilly, "two long-time champions of economic justice and grassroots democracy".

The awards reception took place at the Jamaica Plain home of Marcia Peters and David Karaus. Honorary Co-Chairs for this event were Boston City Councilor Felix Arroyo and Elaine Bernard, Director of the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program.[23]

East Boston State Rep candidate Gloribell Mota, "recounted her recent defeat with warmth and humor."

The award was presented by Carline Desire from the Association of Haitian Women in Boston, while MC was David Knuttunen.[24]





The 2009 Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards, sponsored by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, took place Tuesday, June 30, 6:30—8:30 P.M., at the historic home of Marcia Peters and David Karaus, Jamaica Plain.

Honorees were Professor, author, and health care reformer Rashi Fein, along with the winners of an inspiring union election at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, accepted by Sonia Marshall, patient care assistant and key organizer of the campaign.[25]

After being introduced by 1199 Vice President (and former Boston DSA staff person) Mike Fadel, lead organizer Sonia Marshall recounted the ups and downs of the long campaign for union certification, and the need for the same kind of solidarity and democratic consultation when negotiating future contracts.

The award to Rashi Fein was presented by Sheila Decter of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action—"it turns out they both shared warm memories of Julie Bernstein".[26]





The 2010 Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards, sponsored by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, took place Tuesday, June 13, 6:30—8:30 P.M., at the Jamaica plain home of environmentalist Marcia Peters and David Karaus.

2010 honorees were "two champions of social justice and grassroots democracy: Georgia Hollister Isman and Jack Clark". Honorary Co-Chairs for the event were MA AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes and State Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville), with special guest Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston).[27]

Georgia Hollister Isman was presented by Andrea Miller of NARAL and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, who livened up her introduction by bursting into song.

After being introduced by MA AFL-CIO Vice-President Ed Collins and Janet Boguslaw from Brandeis University, Jack Clark "entertained and informed us with a brief tour of U.S. Socialist history".

Others who attended or sponsored the event included Rep. Frank Smizik, Somerville Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, and recently elected President of the Washington, DC chapter of Red Sox Nation Eleanor LeCain, "our perennial MC, Julie Johnson", Mike Schippani (UAW-Detroit); Shaw’s striker Juan Garcia and UFCW staffer Heysoll Rodriguez.[28]





The 2011 Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards, sponsored by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, took place June 11, 56 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain. The reception honored a long-time advocate for low wage workers and community empowerment along with a best-selling author — Rocio Saenz and Matt Taibbi. Co-Chairs were Lisa Clauson, Co-Director of Community Labor United and Chuck Collins of the Institute for Policy Studies.[29]


At the 2012 awards reception of Boston Democratic Socialists of America, held on June 18 at 56 Perkins Street, Jamaica Plain, at the home of Marcia Peters and David Karaus, Andrea Miller, former Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, was honored.

Honorary Co-Chairs for this event were AFL-CIO Vice President Ed Collins and State Senator Patricia Jehlen.

Andrea was “politicized” during her first year at Columbia College where she joined the DSA Youth Section, serving for three years on its Executive Committee and eventually as Chair. She has then spent two decades on the frontlines of the struggle for reproductive justice. Under her leadership in 2010 MA NARAL, with other members of the Mass Alliance coalition, successfully resisted the nationwide Republican tsunami by retaining a slim pro-choice majority at the State House, and won “no-copays” for contraception in health care legislation.
Last year Andrea moved to New York to become President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and NARAL Pro- Choice New York, where she successfully battled the FDA for access to over-the counter emergency contraception and cofounded the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Introducing Andrea Miller was Marlene Fried, a widely published author who serves on the board of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights and teaches in the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program at Hampshire College.

Addressing the broader political context for 2012 was Darrin Howell of Mass Uniting, and State Senator Patricia Jehlen.[30]


The 2013 Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards, sponsored by Boston Democratic Socialists of America, took place June 7.

DSA is "proud to honor three of Boston’s best activists at this year’s annual awards reception: Jennifer Doe, Shelagh Foreman, and Andi Mullin". Honorary Chairs for the event were Brian Corr, Director of the Cambridge Peace Commission; Harris Gruman, Political Director for Massachusetts SEIU; State Representative Denise Provost, and Rand Wilson, SEIU Local 888. It was hosted by Dick Bauer and Roberta Bauer; Dick is a longtime leader in UAW local 2320 and the NE Jewish Labor Committee, and Roberta has served many years as an elected member of the Somerville School Committee.[31]


Boston DSA Debs-Thomas-Bernstein Awards Reception, took place Sunday, June 8, at the Workmen’s Circle, 1762 Beacon Street, Brookline

Join us at Boston DSA’s annual awards reception, this year honoring two activists separated by six decades but united in the cause of social justice — Jacob Schlitt and Cecily McMillan.

Honorary Chairs for the DSA Awards Reception were;

Former Rep. Barney Frank; Rep. Ruth Balser; Sen. Patricia Jehlen; Dick Bauer—Co-Chair, New England Jewish Labor Committee; Arthur Bernstein—former YPSL, brother of Julius Bernstein; Jules Bernstein—labor attorney; Sheila Decter—Director, Jewish Alliance for Social Action; Ellen Feingold—former Director, Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly; Michael Felsen—past president, Workmen’s Circle; Shelagh Foreman—Director, Massachusetts Peace Action; David Harris—Managing Director, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School; Georgia Hollister Isman—Director, Mass Alliance; John McDonough—Director, Center for Public Health Leadership, Harvard School of Public Health; Rabbi Barbara Penzer—Co-Chair, New England Jewish Labor Committee; Steve Tolman, President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO; Rand Wilson—Communications and Policy Director, SEIU Local 888.[32]

2010 endorsements

The following is a list of the mainly Massachusetts candidates endorsed by the Boston DSA , published in the The Yankee Radical:[28][33]

Boston School for Democratic Socialism

The Boston School for Democratic Socialism held several courses in the Spring of 1990: "Introduction to Democratic Socialism;" "Housing America: A Progressive Perspective;" "The Transformation of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union;" and "An Economic Course for the 90s."

James Braude and Deborah Weinstein spoke to Boston DSA's March forum on the Massachusetts fiscal crisis. Daniel Singer, The Nation correspondent, and Peter Mathern, Czechoslovakian student leader, addressed several forums in Boston as part of DSA's Eastern Europe tour.[34]

Commonwealth Coalition

The Commonwealth Coalition was an alliance of local progressive groups, including Democratic Socialists of America, whose Political Committee endorsed candidates in State legislative races. In November 2005 it was in the process of disbanding and re-forming under another name as yet unchosen.

Boston Democratic Socialists of America intended remain a member.[35]

DSA lobbying

Boston Democratic Socialists of America has lobbied Cynthia Creem and Barney Frank over the housing foreclosure issue. According to Boston DSA's The Yankee Radical, February/March 2010;[36]

So this January DSAers in Brookline, Newton and parts of Wellesley took ac-tion to help the victims fight back against the perpetrators. We made calls to two of our elected representatives: Congressman Barney Frank and State Senator Cynthia Creem, who chair committees that are of vital importance on these issues.
The Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending (MAAPL), a coalition that includes Boston DSA, has filed four bills in the State Legislature to help predatory lending victims in Massachu-setts. All are currently in the Judiciary Committee, whose Senate chair is Cyn-thia Creem. Her DSA constituents called to ask her to have these bills reported favorably out of her committee.
Congressman Barney Frank is Chair-man of the House Financial Services Committee. He could initiate a process that might lead to using the remaining TARP funds to save community banks, instead of just handing them over like tasty morsels to be devoured by the big banks that precipitated the crisis. This would be a much more community-friendly use of the funds than other ideas to create a capital gains tax holiday! Constituents called to ask him to schedule a committee hearing to discuss this proposal.


  1. TYR, September 2007
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. []
  5. [3]
  6. DSA website, DSA Candidates Win Big in Boston-area Municipal Elections
  8. [4]
  9. [5]
  10. Yankee Radical, April, 2001]
  11. Yankee Radical, Mr./April 2002]
  12. TYR, March 2005
  13. Dem. Left Jan./Feb. 1995, page 15
  14. Dem. Left, Sept./Oct 1995, page 39
  15. Dem. Left, Summer 2000
  16. DEMOCRATIC: LEFT JULY-AUG. 1990. page 12
  17. Dem. Left, July/ Aug. 1993, page 10
  18. Dem. Left May/June 1995, page 20
  19. The Yankee Radical, June 2001, page 1
  20. Yankee Radical, August, 2001
  21. The Yankee Radical, Sep./Oct. 2002
  22. TYR, Jan. 2007
  23. TYR, Sep. 2007
  24. TYR, Jan. 2008
  25. TYR, June 2009
  26. TYR, Sep. 2009
  27. TYR, May 2010
  28. 28.0 28.1 TRY Sep. 2010
  29. Talking Union blog, Boston DSA Awards Reception to Honor Rocio Saenz and Matt Taibbi Posted on May 25, 2011 by dsalaborblogmoderator
  30. The Yankee Radical, June/July 2012
  31. TYR June 2013, page 1]
  32. Democratic Socialists of America – Boston blog, 6/8/14 Honoring Jake Schlitt and Cecily McMIllan
  33. WND: See which candidates supported by socialist group, Oct. 13, 2010 (accessed on Oct. 18, 2010)
  34. DEMOCRATIC: LEFT MAY-JUNE 1990, page 8
  35. TYR, November 2005
  36. TRY, Feb. 2010]