Dorothy Healey

From KeyWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Dorothy Healey

Dorothy Ray Healey was a leading California Communist Party USA member-later active in the New American Movement and Democratic Socialists of America. She died in 2006 in Washington DC age 91.

Early Life

Healey was born on September 22, 1914, in Denver, Colorado, as Dorothy Harriet Rosenblum. Both of her parents were Jewish immigrants from Hungary: her father worked as a traveling salesman and her mother was a Socialist Party USA activist who became a charter member of the Communist Party USA in 1919. Her family moved to California in the 1920s, settling in Berkeley, where Healey attended high school.[1]


In December 1928 at the age of fourteen, that she joined the Young Communist League USA . . Her first arrest for political activity came on May Day, 1930, at a Communist-organized demonstration of the unemployed in Oakland; she was sent to the juvenile detention home in Oakland for two weeks, where she adopted the pseudonym Dorothy Ray to protect her father's job.[2]

At the age of 17, Healey dropped out of school to organize cannery workers and later, agricultural workers.[3]

Communist Party

By 19, Ray was leading a strike of Mexican agricultural workers in Imperial County, for which she did 180 days in jail.[4]

By 24, she was an international vice president of the Cannery Workers Union and at 25 the head of the Labor Non-Partisan League–the CIO political operation in Los Angeles.

Dorothy Healey became chairman of the Los Angeles Communist Party USA in the late 1940s.

By the mid 1950s Dorothy Healey had become a "local celebrity", appearing on radio talk shows, and hosting her own show on KPFK.

In 1966 she ran for county assessor on a platform of linking property-tax rates to homeowner incomes and won 86,000 votes.

According to DSA colleague Harold Meyerson Dorothy Healey was probably the most compelling and attractive spokesperson the American Communists ever had.

Leaving the Party/NAM

When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968, the national party supported the invasion; the L.A. party opposed it.

Dorothy had the bitter experience of seeing many of the ’60s activists she’d recruited to the party – Angela Davis in particular – side with the national party’s ossified Stalinist leaders.

In the early 1970s, Dorothy Healey, Ben Dobbs and a group of their former California comrades, including housing and civil-liberties activist Frank Wilkinson and attorneys Ben Margolis and John McTernan left the party -later to join the New American Movement and eventually Democratic Socialists of America.

Dorothy Healey, John McTernan and Ben Margolis were all in the same Southern California New American Movement branch with Paul Jarrico and Bill Jarrico.[5]

Early in 1974, expelled former CPUSA Callfornia DIstrict leader Doroth Healey formed a group of some 70 "socialists in search of a party" and took them into NAM as one of its strongest chapters.[6]

New American Movement

In the late 1970's Dorothy Healey was a Los Angeles California, contact for the New American Movement.[7]

Attendees at the Expanded National Interim Committee of the New American Movement January 2-4, 1976 in Pittsburgh, PA included;

Roberta Lynch, Anne Farrar, Judy MacLean, Alan Charney, Steve Carlip, Holly Graff, Richard Healey, Mark Mericle, Carollee Sandberg, John Ehrenreich, Bill Leumer, Elayne Rapping

RIC representatives -Ellen Sugg (Port City Chapter, Industrial Heartland Region), Mel Tanzman (Brooklyn Chapter, Northeast Region), Joni Rabinowitz (Pittsburgh Chapter, Industrial Heartland Region), Noel Ignatin (Sojourner Truth Chapter, Midwest Region), Rick Kunnes (Ann Arbor Chapter Industrial Heartland Region), Dorothy Healey ( L.A. #4, Southwest Region), John Judis (East Bay Chapter, Northwest Region), Lee Holstein (Haymarket Chapter, Midwest Region), Laura Burns (Radcliffe/Harvard Chapter, Northeast Region), Dan Marschall (East Bay Chapter, Northwest Region), Glenn Scott (Austin Chapter, Southern Region), Alice Allgaier (St. Louis Chapter, Midwest Region), Dave McBride (Austin, Southern Region), Mark Cohen (Southern Region, Hal Adams ( Iowa City, Midwest Region);

Staff - Dave Ranney[8]

In The Times Founding sponsors

In 1976 founding sponsors of the Institute for Policy Studies/New American Movement linked socialist journal were;

New American Movement 10th convention

In 1981 Dorothy Healey, LA NAM; Rick Kunnes, National Secretary; John Cameron, Co-Chair, Energy Commission and Susie Deter Shank, Detroit NAM spoke on a mini-plenary entitled National Strategies, National Coalitions at the 10th Convention of the New American Movement. The convention was held in a union headquarters in Chicago and ran from July 29 - August 2, 1981.[10]

Old NAM communists

Kathie Sheldon ‎New American Movement, July 5, 2009


Herman Rosenstein, Milt Cohen, Ben Margolis, Dorothy Healey, Saul Wellman, Ben Dobbs

Photo by Scott Van Osdol, NAM convention 1981.

Tribute to Ben Dobbs

On Sunday, June 7, 1981, the Los Angeles Chapter of the New American Movement sponsored a Tribute to Ben Dobbs for "His lifelong commitment to socialism". The event was held at the Miramar-Sheraton Hotel, Santa Monica, California. At the event Dorothy Healey and Jan Breidenbach performed a song entitled "As We Know Him". Healey was also listed as a sponsor of the event.[11]

Socialist Community School

In 1982 Dorothy Healey was a committee member of the Socialist Community School in Los Angeles[12]. She was also a teacher at the school in the 1980s.[13]

New American Movement Speakers Bureau

In the 1980s Dorothy Healey was a speaker on the The Crisis of Capitalism section of the NAM Speakers Bureau on the subject of The Struggle for Socialism Today. She was also a speaker on the The Left & People's History section on the subject of Socialist Struggles from the '30s to the '70s.[14]

Los Angeles DSA

In 1982 Dorothy Healey was on the Advisory Committee, KPFK radio commentator, of Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America[15].

In 1985, Dorothy Healey Pacifica Radio Commentator and DSA National Vice-Chair, served on the Advisory Committee of Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America.[16]

DSA vice chair

In 1984 Democratic Socialists of America vice chairs were Harry Britt, Ron Dellums, Dorothy Healey, Irving Howe, Frances Moore Lappe, Manning Marable, Hilda Mason, Marjorie Phyfe, Christine Riddiough, Rosemary Ruether, Edwin Vargas Jr, William Winpisinger[17].

DSA Feminist Commission

In 1985, Ex Officio members: Barbara Ehrenreich, Dorothy Healey of Washington D.C., Frances Moore Lappe, Hilda Mason, Marjorie Phyfe, Christine Riddiough, Rosemary Ruether, Maxine Phillips and Esmeralda Castillo were listed on the National Officers and Staff of the Feminist Commission of the Democratic Socialists of America.[18]

CoC National Conference endorser

In 1992 Dorothy Healey of Washington DC endorsed the Committees of Correspondence national conference Conference on Perspectives for Democracy and Socialism in the 90s held at Berkeley California July 17-19.[19]

Rosenberg Fund for Children

In 2003 Dorothy Healey was on the Advisory Board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children[20].


  1. Leaders from the 60s, page 529
  2. Leaders from the 60s, page 529
  3. New American Movement Speakers Bureau booklet, 1980s
  5. The Marxist and the movies: a biography of Paul Jarrico p222
  7. undated NAM contacts list Tarzynski papers Southern California Library for Social Change
  8. Minutes of the Meeting of the Expanded National Interim Committee, January 2-4, 1976 Pittsburgh, PA
  9. [1] In These Times home page, accessed March 6, 2010
  10. NAM 10th Convention Agenda, July 29, 1981
  11. Tribute to Ben Dobbs program, June 7, 1981
  12. Socialist Community School committee member list Feb 1982
  13. Socialist Community School Organizing Committee List, 1980s
  14. New American Movement Speakers Bureau booklet, 1980s
  15. LA DSA members letter July 10 1982
  16. LA, DSA, letterhead January 28th, 1985
  17. DSA membership letter Oct 24 1984
  18. DSA Feminist Commission Directory, 1985
  20. Rosenberg Fund for Children Letterhead June 19 2003