David Canter

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David Canter

Template:TOCnestleft David Simon Canter (1923-2004) was a Chicago lawyer, journalist and activist - the son of Harry Canter. He was married to Miriam Canter. He is survived by his sons Marc Canter, Evan Canter and a daughter, Anna Pincus.

His friends included fellow Hyde Park resident Sydney Bild.[1]

Early life

Born in Boston, David Canter was the son of Harry Canter, an activist with the Industrial Workers of the World who later became secretary of the Boston Communist Party USA.

While the Communist Party candidate for Massachusetts secretary of state, Canter was arrested for carrying a placard "FULLER—MURDERER OF SACCO AND VANZETTI" " attacking Governor Fuller for the execution of anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti. Harry Canter was tried, convicted and jailed for a year for criminal libel in May 1929.

Soviet sojourn

After his release Harry Canter moved his family, including son David to the Soviet Union. David Canter must have stayed in the Soviet Union for some time because according to his friend Sydney Bild[2];

“After his release, Mr. Canter’s father moved the family from Boston to Russia, where the young man developed a love for Russian literature, Bild said.”


David and Harry Canter

By 1946 the family had turned up in Chicago, where Harry Canter worked for many years as Secretary of Chicago Local 16 of the International Typographical Union.

Harry Canter later moved to San Fransisco, where he remained active in leftist causes. David Canter however remained in Illinois.

Student days


David Canter attended Wright Junior College and edited its student publication before attending the University of Chicago.[3]

David Canter, studied at the University of Chicago and was very much involved in student journalism and politics.

In 1948 he was the "left's choice" for editor of the University of Chicago student newspaper "Maroon".

Non-Partisan Students League

In 1950 David Canter served as Campaign Manager on the executive committee of the leftist Chicago University Non-Partisan Students League

Law school

In 1958 David Canter graduated from the John Marshall Law School, but he began his law studies at the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1947.

At some point during his long school career, David Canter ran afoul of Edward A. Levi, Professor of the Law School. Probably because of his controversial activities as editor-in-chief of the Maroon and/or his Party activities. From there to the John Marshall Law School.[4]

Packinghouse Workers

In the late 1950s David Canter also edited the Packinghouse Workers Union newspaper "Champion" newspaper. The Union was controlled by identified Communist Party USA figures such as Abe Feinglass, who was linked to future Chicago Congressman Charles Hayes[5].

The Packinghouse Workers Union was a long time CPUSA-influenced, if not controlled union that later merged with the Meatcutters to form the CPUSA-run Amalgamated Meatcutters & Butcherworkmens’ Union, lead by identified CPUSA labor leader Abe Feinglass, who was also a VP of the Soviet-KGB front, the World Peace Council..Some hearings on the Packinghouse Workers were held by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and one revealed that the future Rep. Charles Hayes (D-Ill, Chicago) was a high-ranking member of the CPUSA in the Meatcutters Union along with Feinglass.

Soviet "black" propagandist

By 1960 David Canter had teamed up with well known Chicago Communist Party USA member, LeRoy Wolins.

The pair owned a company called Translation World Publishers, which specialised in publications from and about the Soviet Union. The company soon attracted the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which suspected Canter and Wolins of being conduits for Soviet propaganda.

Canter 2.JPG
Canter 3.JPG

In a report prepared by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, May and July 1962 entitled "Communist Outlets for the Distribution of Soviet propaganda in the United States" David Canter was heavily quizzed about payments his company received from the Soviet Union.

After the U.S. Government demanded that Translation World Publishers register as the agent of a foreign power, Canter de-registerd the company.

The Committee went on to find that;

Translation World Publishers was an outlet for the distribution of Soviet propaganda...this publishing house was subsidized by Soviet funds and was created by known Communists to serve the propaganda interests of the U.S.S.R.

IVI-IPO Activist

In June 1980, David Canter stood as a candidate for the position of Chairperson at the Annual Convention of the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization.[6]

Identified communist


The HouseCommittee on Un-American Activities also questioned David Canter about his membership of the Communist Party USA.

When identified on oath as a member of the Communist Party, by former Party member Carl Nelson of Chicago, David Canter refused to answer the charge.

Black propaganda

In 1963/64 the Soviet Union actively tried to undermine Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, in favor of Democrat Lyndon Johnson. Goldwater lost the election paving the the way for Johnson's massive expansion of Federal Government power-the "Great Society".

In their 1989 book "THE KGB AGAINST THE MAIN ENEMY-How the Soviet Intelligence Service Operates against the United States" the U.S.'s premier communist researcher Herbert Romerstein and former KGB officer Stanislav Levchenko examined Soviet attempts to blacken Goldwater's name and other Soviet campaigns of the time;

The false charge that Goldwater was a racist was only one of the smear campaigns used against his candidacy by the Soviets and their surrogates. The American Communists covertly covertly assisted in this "active measures" campaign.

A 1963 booklet claimed that Goldwater was conspiring with the John Birch Society to organize a "putsch," or violent insurrection, to take over the United States in 1964. The booklet, "Birch Putsch Plans for 1964", contained no address for the publisher, Domino Publications. The author used the not-veryimaginative pseudonym, "John Smith, as told to Stanhope T. McReady." There was nothing to tie this publication to the communists until an ad for the book appeared in the pro-communist National Guardian for April 25, 1963, listing the publisher as "Domino Publications, Suite 900, 22 West Madison Street, Chicago, Illinois."

This was in fact the address of Translation World Publishers, which was registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as an agent of the Soviet Union. The co-owners, LeRoy Wolins and David S. Canter, were identifed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities as members of the Communist Party USA.

In 1965 Domino Publications of Chicago published a pamphlet attacking the NATO multilateral nuclear force (MLF). The pamphlet, by David S. Canter, was titled MLF-Force or Farce? It presented the Soviet arguments against the NATO nuclear defense.

Marched with MLK

Canter marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960s West Side open-housing rallies.[7]

Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights

In November 1967, David Canter and his wife Miriam Canter signed a Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights advertisement in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices opposing efforts by Senator Dirksen to re-institute the McCarran Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950.[8]

"Who Asked You" Election Advertisement

In April 1968, David Canter signed an Advertisement in the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices as a committee member of an as yet un-named organization led by Ruth Adams, Timuel Black, Rev. E. Spencer Parsons, Al Verri and Rabbi Jacob Weinstein asking the question, "What can you do to get a real choice for president in 1968?"[9]

Riot organizer

Canter helped organize the 1968 Chicago Democratic party convention protests.[10]


David Canter later edited the Packinghouse Worker’s Union’s Champion, Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, and former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington’s “Second Term” newsletter. He also printed dozens of newspapers on behalf of Chicago politicians.[11]

Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices


By the late 1960s David Canter was working as an insurance agent and publishing a small politically oriented Chicago neighbourhood newspaper, the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices. Canter's partner and the paper's editor was Don Rose, a journalist prominent in the Communist Party USA front Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights-which was established to abolish the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

Unsurprisingly the paper also campaigned against the House Un-American Activities Committee.

According to journalist/researcher Max Friedman[12];

The one issue that I have from early 1969 featured several major stories about attempts in Chicago and elsewhere to abolish the above-mentioned internal-security groups as well as the history of the Chicago “Red Squad” from the leftist Columbia Journalism Review of late 1968.

David Canter's late wife Miriam Canter was of similar mind. She was an active fundraiser for a defense committee for prominent medical researcher and accused Communist Party USA member, Dr Jeremiah Stamler who was also under investigation by HCUA.

Mentoring David Axelrod

After the Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices folded, Don Rose and David Canter became mentors to a young journalist named David Axelrod[13].

In his early years as a political consultant, Axelrod, following in the footsteps of his mentor, the political strategist Don Rose, carved out a reputation for himself as a skillful specialist working for local progressive candidates...says Rose. "I think he's a principled, generally progressive guy... ."

Axelrod first met Rose and Canter in the early 1970s while studying political science at the University of Chicago and working as a reporter on the Hyde Park Herald.

Canter and Rose took the young David Axelrod under their wing. They took it upon themselves to "mentor" and "educate...politically", a the young journalist. Don Rose later wrote a reference letter for Axelrod that helped win him the internship at the Chicago Tribune which launched his career.

Don Rose writing to David Canter's son Marc Canter;

David Axelrod did not work for the Voices at any point. He was a reporter for the HP Herald while attending U of C, appearing on the scene first in 1975, just after the Voices folded–but he was familiar with our paper as a student before he got the Herald job. Your dad and i “mentored” and helped educate him politically in that capacity, which is perhaps why you may recall seeing him hanging around the house. I later wrote a reference letter for him that helped him win an internship at the Tribune, which was the next step in his journalism career.

Canter and Harold Washington


David Canter knew Harold Washington for many, many years, before he was involved in politics, and was key to putting together his mayoral voter registration strategy, consolidating the black vote. Canter was always very involved in elections and election law.

That’s how he met most of the African American and progressive candidates on the South Side. He would review their petitions to see if they would stand up to challenge. Candidates would come to the Canter's home with petitions and pile them on the dining room table. David Canter would go over them line by line.

David Canter played a key role in persuading Harold Washington, his friend of 20 years at that point, to run against Richard M. Daley in 1983.[14]

By the early 1980s David Canter was actively trying to change the Chicago political scene. The Daley era was finally ending and Canter saw an opportunity to move City Hall to the left.

With nine others, Canter approached Democratic Party congressman Harold Washington about standing for the Chicago mayoralty. Canter had known Washington for many years, not surprising as the Congressman had ties to Chicago's communists and socialists dating back until the 1940s.

Washington accepted the proposal. His vacant congessional seat was taken up by Charles Hayes, the identified Communist Party USA member once close to Canter's old Packing House Workers Union colleague, Abe Feinglass.

In October 2004 David Canter's son, Chicago IT consultant Marc Canter, blogged about his late father's relationship with Harold Washington[15];

One day I stumbled downstairs into our kitchen to meet Harold Washington talking to my father. Harold was the Congressman from our district and my father was explaining to him how he could split the white vote and become the first black mayor of the city of Chicago.
My father had been mentoring, encouraging and working with Harold for 15 years by then and it worked. They won the election and Harold became history...
My father encouraged black politicians to get their piece of the pie...
My father never charged for helping anyone out - and it was only until he was 65 did he ever accept a job from anyone he helped. He was one of those idealistic reds.

Indeed David Canter would not initially take a job under Washington, but after his 1987 re-election Canter relented and became deputy commissioner of streets and sanitation.

Marc Canter also wrote;

My brother worked for Harold in D.C. when he was still a Congressman and got a job as a lawyer prosecuting crooked cops - when Harold came to power. My father remained in the inner circle and helped out on all sorts of political and community activities.

"Second Term"


David Canter's most famous publication was a slick, 1980s tabloid called Second Term that touted the late Mayor Washington's administration. Mr. Canter was Washington's deputy streets and sanitation commissioner. The newspaper attracted scorn in the mainstream press because it was funded, in part, by donations from city contractors.[16]

New Mayor and New Politics

On May 17 1983 David Canter was a Panelist on A New Mayor and New Politics forum at Chicago State University Auditorium.

The election of Harold Washington as Mayor of Chicago was more than one man's victory. It was a progressive people's declaration. The Black community and progressive Latinos and whites formed an unbetable force in a campaign for justice and equality.

Panelist were Paul Booth, Juanita Bratcher, David Canter, Slim Coleman, Danny Davis, Keith Davis, Ron Davis, Ishmael Flory, Rev Harry Gibson, Nancy Jefferson, Richard Newhouse, Lu Palmer, Art Vasquez, Conrad Worrill sponsored by Black Press Institute and Independent Citizens Alliance[17].

Salute to Harold Washington

On April 6, 1983, the Hyde Park Herald published an endorsement from the Hyde Park/Kenwood Citizens Committee of Democratic Party Chicago mayoral candidate Harold Washington. Signatories to the endorsement included David Canter and Miriam Canter.[18]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

ON November 16, 1989, David Canter served on the Tribute Committee for the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[19]

Election activism

David Canter worked for the election campaigns of Bobby Rush, Carol Moseley Braun and dozens more.[20]

David S. Canter served as an advisor to prominent Chicago politicians, including Harold Washington, Carol Moseley Braun, and Bobby Rush.

From Washington to Obama

Don Rose and David Axelrod also worked for Harold Washington. Rose served as an adviser to the Mayor, while Axelrod served as a campaign consultant.

A Christopher Hayes article in The Nation February 6th 2007 touched on the links between Washington, David Axelrod and the later emergence of Barack Obama.

Axelrod and Forest Claypool...opened their own consulting shop, handling mostly long-shot candidates until 1987, when Chicago Mayor Harold Washington hired the firm to help with his re-election. Four years earlier, Washington had won a historic victory...As the Tribune's city hall bureau chief, Axelrod had ringside seats. "Nineteen eighty-three, that was a phenomenal election. Harold Washington--extraordinary guy. I mean, he was the most kinetic campaigner and politician that I've ever met. It was inspiring the way the African-American community came alive around the prospect of electing Harold...
Axelrod sees Obama, who was working in Chicago as a community organizer during the Washington years, as a marker of progress, writing the second act of a story that Washington started. "In 1983, after Harold won the primary, he went to the northwest side of Chicago with Walter Mondale. They went to a place called St. Pascal's Catholic Church. And what ensued there was so ugly--the protests--that it became a national story.
Twenty-one years later, when Barack ran for the U.S. Senate in the primary against six very strong candidates, he carried every ward on the northwest side except one, and carried the ward that St. Pascal's is in...That's what he was thinking about on primary night. I was thinking, and I told Barack, that Harold Washington is smiling down on us."

While Harold Washington died shortly after starting his second term, the coalition that elected him endured, electing Carol Moseley Braun to the U.S. Senate in 1992 and Barack Obama to the same seat in 2004.

The Moseley Braun campaign

When longtime Communist Party USA associate Carol Moseley Braun ran for U.S. Senate from illinois in 1992 the "Washington coalition" swang back into action. While the communists and socialists worked on the ground, Canter, Don Rose and David Axelrod played senior roles in the successful campaign.

Barack Obama ran the the highly successful voter registration drive that secured Moseley Braun's victory-possibly where Canter and Obama first met.

IVI-IPO/Barack Obama

David Canter knew Barack Obama through Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization.

David Canter had become active in the organisation in the 1940s and remained involved up to his death in 2004, serving on its board in the early 1980s[21].

IVI was set up to campaign for endorsed candidates-especially "progressive" candidates, which caused the FBI to investigate the organization .

The government took an interest in IVI as far back as 1944, over quite justified allegations of communist infiltration[22].

In 1944 the FBI prepared a more extensive intelligence report on an active political group, the Independent Voters of Illinois, apparently because it was the target of Communist "infiltration." The Independent Voters group was reported to have been formed;
"...for the purpose of developing neighborhood political units to help in the re-election of President Roosevelt and the election of progressive congressmen. Apparently, IVI endorsed or aided democrats for the most part, although it was stated to be "independent."

Both Barack and Michelle Obama were members of IVI-IPO and the organisation endorsed Obama during his 2004 U.S. Senate race.

In July 2004 IVI-IPO celebrated its 60th anniversary. Members of the event committee included[23];

DSA member Timuel Black and Socialist Party USA veteran Leon Despres DSA and Progressives for Obama member Betty Willhoite, David Orr, Carol Moseley Braun, David Canter and Barack Obama.

David Canter died a month later.


David Canter served as former Mayor Washington’s Deputy Streets and Sanitation Commissioner, an aide to former Governor Dan Walker, and an attorney for the Illinois Commerce Commission, and right up to his death, he served as an attorney for the Cook County Department of Human Rights; he was especially devoted to heading up a revamp of the Miriam G. Canter Middle School, named for his wife following her death in 1999, and served as a member of the Friends of Miriam G. Canter Middle School.[24]

Last laugh

On the 30th of September 2008 Marc Canter wrote in his blog[25];

My father was an old-time politico in Chicago and one of his old buddies - Don Rose writes a column for a Chicago web site called the ‘Chicago Daily Observer’.
In today’s column he writes that Obama has taken a 50-42 lead in the polls.
I’m saying this in honor of my father who fought for civil rights, against the Vietnam War and would be tickled pink to see what Barack is up to.
I know he’s looking down from wherever he is - and laughing right now.



  1. Obituary, David Canter , 81, lawyer, activist Chicago Sun-Times (IL) - August 30, 2004 Author: Monifa Thomas
  2. Chicago Sun-Times of August 30, 2004
  3. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  4. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  5. http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2031236/posts
  6. IVI-IPO Annual Convention Poster
  7. Chicago Tribune, David S. Canter, 81, Adviser to prominent Chicago politicians, August 29, 2004|By John Bebow
  8. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, Nov. 1967
  9. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, April 1968
  10. Marc's Voice, History of the Canter Family, June 26th, 2010
  11. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  12. http://augustafreepress.com/2008/06/13/the-post-and-me/
  13. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-070620axelrod-htmlstory,0,7217326.htmlstory
  14. Obituary, David Canter , 81, lawyer, activist Chicago Sun-Times (IL) - August 30, 2004 Author: Monifa Thomas
  15. http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2004/09/23/who_was_david_s/
  16. Chicago Tribune, David S. Canter, 81, Adviser to prominent Chicago politicians, August 29, 2004|By John Bebow
  17. A Forum Pamphlet Harold Washington Papers
  18. Hyde Park Herald April 6, 1983, page 8
  19. Tribute to Golub and Montgomery: Program, Nov. 16, 1989
  20. Obituary, David Canter , 81, lawyer, activist Chicago Sun-Times (IL) - August 30, 2004 Author: Monifa Thomas
  21. IVI-IPO Letterhead July 23 1981
  22. http://ftp.fas.org/irp/ops/ci/docs/ci1/ch4d.htm
  23. http://newzeal.blogspot.com/2008/10/obama-file-47-paid-soviet-agent-behind.html#links
  24. Chicago Jewish History Spring 2010, David and Miriam Canter: Doing Right from the Left BY WALTER ROTH
  25. http://blog.broadbandmechanics.com/2008/09/29/50-42/