Leslie Cagan

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Leslie Cagan

Leslie Sue Cagan was until July 2009 co-chairman of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism[1].

Cagan has been active since the Viet Nam war era, campaigning against to racism at home, from nuclear disarmament to lesbian/gay liberation, from fighting sexism to working against U.S. intervention. She served seven years as Director of the Cuba Information Project. She also coordinated the largest U.S. delegation to Cuba for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1997.

Cagan was until 2008 the chairperson of United for Peace and Justice peace organization. She is active with the Same Boat Coalition in NYC, and on the board of the Astraea National Lesbian Action Foundation.

First Venceremos Brigade

In 1969 Leslie Sue Cagan age 22, from the Bronx , was a member of the first Venceremos Brigade to Cuba.[2] .

Addressed Communist Party USA, front meeting

An ad/notice was placed in the Guardian, November 8, 1989, concerning an upcoming U.S. Peace Council national conference. The text of the notice was:

"End The Cold War Fund Human Needs" U.S. Peace Council's Tenth Anniversary National Conference - Boston, Mass., Nov. 10-12, 1989

Speakers Included:[3]

National Rainbow Coalition 1990 conference

In May 3-6, 1990 the National Rainbow Coalition held a successful conference in Atlanta, attended by over 1,000.

Bernie Demczuk, national labor coordinator of the Rainbow, organized a contingent. Jack Sheinkman, president of the ACTWU, hosted a labor breakfast.

California Assemblywoman Maxine Waters, has been the strongest leader in the California Rainbow, also attended, as did Leslie Cagan, a Rainbow board member.[4]

Socialist Scholars Conference 1990

The Socialist Scholars Conference 1990, held September 6-8, at the Hotel Commodore, New York, included panels such as:[5]

After the Cold War

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Leslie Cagan, Cuba Information Project, New York, endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[6]

CoC National Coordinating Committee

The following are listed in order of votes they received as members of the Committees of Correspondence National Coordinating Committee, elected at the Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.:[7]

Hiroshima Day, 1993


On August 6 1993, a rally to commemorate Hiroshima Day was held at the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjold Park, New York. The rally was designed "to kickoff a national campaign to collect a million signatures supporting a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, commend president Clinton for extending the nuclear testing moratorium, urge renewal of the Non Proliferation Treaty, urge swift and complete nuclear disarmament."

The event was sponsored by the Metro New York Peace Action Council and several other "peace' groups.[8]

Speakers included;

CoC training school

According to Georgia Wever the first Leadership Training School ever organized by the Committees of Correspondence took place during July 1998 , at a woodland location in upstate New York. For almost a week, the 24 participants - who came from Northern California, Chicago, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the New York metropolitan area - "talked, challenged, sang, learned, swam, disagreed, feasted, danced, camped, and asked questions."

The curriculum was planned by a committee composed of Mael Apollon, Robin Busch, Leslie Cagan, Pat Fry, Bobby Greenberg, Mel Pritchard, Roque Ristorucci and Zach Robinson. In the follow-up to the Leadership Training School, the curriculum planning committee became the National Education and Literature Committee. It is co-chaired by Bob Greenberg and Mel Pritchard.

Interactive sessions were led by Timothy V. Johnson and Shirley McClain.

Communist "Manifestivity"

On October 30 and 31, 1998 the Brecht Forum presented the "Communist Manifestivity to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Communist Manifesto" at Cooper Union's Great Hall, New York.

Individual endorsers of the event included Leslie Cagan.[9]

One of the many workshops at the Manifestivity was;

Women's Liberation: Seneca Falls to the Present; with Anannya Bhattacharjee, Leslie Cagan, Dawn Crandell, Rosalind Petchesky, and Sofia Quintero. Moderator: Diane Greene Lent

Committees of Correspondence Conference 2002

At the Committees of Correspondence National Conference and Convention, July 25-28, 2002 San Francisco State University, the Plenary Panel and Discussion on War, Peace and Democracy consisted of;

Elaine Hagopian, Leslie Cagan, Rhonda Ramiro, Angela Davis September 11 and Bush’s “war on terrorism.” Response to increased militarism, Ashcroft’s attack on civil liberties, the role of the United Nations and other international bodies.[10]

YDS conference

In February 2004, Young Democratic Socialists convened a "Life After Bush" conference at CUNY Graduate Center in new york.

Speakers were[11];

Communist history event

On March 23, 2007, "people jammed in to sit on folding chairs or stand shoulder-to-shoulder and listen to speakers tell of the Communist Party USA’s contributions to American labor and democratic rights". The crowd studied display cases full of photos, buttons, leaflets and letters from the 2,000 boxes of archives donated by the Communist Party to New York University’s Tamiment Library, which specializes in left and labor history.

The presence of dozens of party and Young Communist League members in the crowd indicated that the Communist Party continues to be an important and growing part of the American political scene.

Speakers included, Tamiment Library director Michael Nash, Committees of Correspondence leader Leslie Cagan, a leader of United for Peace and Justice, Rutgers University professor and CPUSA member Norman Markowitz, Steve Kramer, executive vice president of Service Employees Union Local 1199, New York State Sen. Bill Perkins, New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, CPUSA Executive Vice Chair Jarvis Tyner , American Communist History editor Daniel Leab , University of Houston professor Gerald Horne and CPUSA leader Teresa Albano

Leslie Cagan, a leader of United for Peace and Justice, the national anti-Iraq-war coalition, said of the party’s peace activism, “We have so much to learn from the history of the Communist Party about how this work has been done.” .[12]

Open Letter to Obama on Iran

In 2008 Leslie Cagan of United for Peace and Justice signed an online petition “A Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran”.[13]

United for Peace and Justice

In 2008 Leslie Cagan was National Coordintor for United for Peace and Justice[14]

Independent Progressive Politics Network

In 2009 Leslie Cagan served on the Advisory Committee of the Independent Progressive Politics Network[15].

Committee to Celebrate the Life of Luis Miranda Rivas

In 2009 Leslie Cagan was a member of the Committee to Celebrate the Life of Luis Miranda Rivas.[16]

Campaign for Peace and Democracy

Cagan is listed as an endorser of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, as of March 15, 2010.[17]

Harlem rally against gun violence

More than 2,000 predominantly Black and Latino working people gathered March 21, 2013, on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem in a militant protest against gun violence.

Organized by a broad coalition of labor and people's organizations, it was a "powerful grassroots protest against the National Riffle Association and a warning to Congress that it must pass strong gun control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons."

George Gresham, president of Local 1199 of the Service Workers, captured the fighting spirit of the rally. In a message to all elected officials, Gresham said, "We are the people; do the right thing and we got your back. Do the wrong thing, we got your job."

MSNBC commentator, the Rev. Al Sharpton, addressing the NRA, declared: "We have the right to bear arms but we do not have the right to kill babies. The second amendment does not give you the right to have guns that can hold 30 rounds. We have to take back our streets here in New York and beyond."

Leslie Cagan, who was part of the organizing team for the rally, said that the demonstration was particularly important in light of the Senate leadership having announced that day that the assault weapons ban would be left out of the legislative package. "We need Congress to find the backbone to stand up for communities and families here in Harlem and all over the country," Cagan declared.

Jackie Rowe Adams from Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E spoke with great passion about losing two of her children to gun violence. "I am in pain," she said tearfully. "Put the guns down and pick up the peace sign." There were several mothers who told heartfelt stories of how they lost their sons to gun violence.

There was also Darren Wagner, from Newton, Conn. expressing his community's full support to the people of New York in their fight for gun control.

Hazel Dukes, president of New York State's NAACP, spoke and called for the unity of black, brown and white, Jews, Gentiles, Protestants, and Muslims. "We all have to get ready for a real fight."

Shannon Watts, the founder of "Moms Demand Action," a national group of 80,000 advocating strong gun control, talked about her activities.

Michael Mulgrew, president of New York's UFT, told the crowd that his union was divesting from any stocks that have anything to do with guns.

An emergency room doctor from Harlem Hospital, Dr. Vanessa Gorospe, said, "Gun violence is second only to auto accidents as a cause of death. The number of children below five years old killed by guns are four times the number of police killed by guns."

Refusing to buy into attempts by the NRA and some other groups to scapegoat the mentally ill, she declared: "The mentally ill are four times more likely to be victims of violence rather than purveyors of violence."

The surprise guest at the rally who received a warm welcome was legendary jazz singer Tony Bennett. He spoke of how Harry Belafonte had convinced him to march in Selma and how it had a big impact on him. Bennett is now an outspoken advocate of an assault weapons ban.

The chair of the rally. the Rev. Jacque De Graff of the Caanan Baptist Church, aroused the crowd as he introduced speakers. He emphasized, as did many other speakers, that it was necessary to keep pushing to pass Gov. Cuomo's gun control bill and that it is necessary to carry the fight to Washington. "We are going to change America, starting right here in Harlem," he declared.

There were many elected officials at the rally including two running for mayor. None were allowed to speak but their names were mentioned, John Liu, the first Chinese American to run for mayor, received the loudest applause.

Estevan Nembhard, Manhattan organizer for the Communist Party USA, pointed out that "it is common knowledge in Harlem and in ghettos and barrios across the country; when the unemployment rate and drop-out rate goes up, so does desperation and violence. This rally is very important and will help but not enough was said about the root causes of violence; the lack of jobs, education, the presence of drugs and the absence of a real future for our youth."[18]

External links


  1. http://www.cc-ds.org/leadership.html
  2. THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF COMMUNISM IN 1972 (Venceremos Brigade) PART 2, hearings before the Committee on Internal Security 92nd Congress oct 16-19, 1972 pages 8132-8135
  3. Guardian, November 8, 1989
  4. Our Struggle/Nuestra Lucha. Vol. 8, No 2-3, summer 1990
  5. Second Annual Socialist Scholars Conference program.
  6. CCDS Background
  7. Proceedings of the Committees of Correspondence Conference: Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the '90s booklet, printed by CoC in NY, Sept. 1992 (Price: $4)
  8. Peoples Weekly World, June 31, 1993
  9. Mail Archive website: Communist Manifestivity Conference Schedule, Oct. 28, 1998
  10. [The Corresponder Vol 10, number 1, June 2002 http://www.cc-ds.org/pub_arch/CorresponderX1-2.pdf]
  11. http://www.dsausa.org/LatestNews/2004/nyc04.pdf
  12. Peoples World, Party of hope archives show living history, by: Dan Margolis, March 31, 2007
  13. Open Letter to Obama on Iran
  14. http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?list=type&type=16
  15. http://www.ippn.org/IPPN_People
  16. http://breakallchains.blogspot.com/2008/01/jan-25th-celebrate-life-of-luis-miranda.html
  17. Endorsers
  18. PW Thousands in Harlem rally against gun violence, by: Jarvis Tyner March 27 2013