Steve Max

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Steve Max

Steve Max grew up in New York City. He cut his organizing teeth on the 1958 Youth March for Integrated Schools and was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society . In the late sixties, he turned his attention to electoral organizing and worked on a number of campaigns including those of Eugene McCarthy for President and Bella Abzug for Congress.

He is a longtime Democratic Socialists of America member active in local politics on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He is a co-author of the just released “Eugene V. Debs a Graphic Biography.”[1]

An Open Letter to the New New Left From the Old New Left

An Open Letter to the New New Left From the Old New Left.

Now it is time for all those who yearn for a more equal and just social order to face facts.

By Former leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society. April 16, 2020.

On April 13, 2020, Senator Bernie Sanders urged his supporters to vote for the presumptive Democratic nominee, former vice president Joe Biden. Writing as founders and veterans of the leading New Left organization of the 1960s, Students for a Democratic Society, we welcome Bernie’s wise choice—but we are gravely concerned that some of his supporters, including the leadership of Democratic Socialists of America, refuse to support Biden, whom they see as a representative of Wall Street capital. Some of us are DSA members, but do not believe their position is consistent with a long-range vision of democracy, justice, and human survival....

We salute Bernie Sanders and our friends and comrades in DSA and in the diverse movements for social justice and environmental sanity that enabled them to rise. We look forward to joining together to build on and defend our accomplishments. And now we plead with all: Get together, beat Trump, and fight for democracy—precious, fragile, worth keeping.

The signers of this letter were founders, officers, and activists in Students for a Democratic Society between 1960 and 1969.

Signers included Steve Max.

Midwest Academy

In 1973, Max was recruited by Heather Booth to join with her, Paul Booth, and friends from the student movement to create the first Midwest Academy curriculum. Over the last 30 years, Max has overseen improvements on the original core curriculum while maintaining the integrity of the founding principles. He has written the internal training curriculums for the Academy’s largest clients including AARP, US Student Association, American Cancer Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Planned Parenthood.

Max has taken several leaves from Midwest Academy to lead national and statewide issue campaigns to stop oil deregulation, reauthorize Superfund, develop wind power, and stop the privatization of Social Security. Most recently he has worked with USAction and its affiliates in Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.[2]


Michael Hirsch was 18 when he first met Doug Ireland in 1963. He was already a moving force in the early Students for a Democratic Society. With Steve Max and Jim Williams, Ireland formed the Political Education Project, an SDS work group that saw political action as doable by the New Left and a necessary adjunct to its ongoing campus, community and civil rights organizing.[3]


In 1975 Steve Max was a member of the West Side chapter New American Movement.He wrote an article with Jim Williams "Strikes and Strike Support", for NAM Discussion Bulletin No. 9, March 1975, which was unpublished, but could be ordered, as a pamphlet from the Midwest Academy.[4]

NAM organizer

NAM Facebook page June 27, 2016

In June 1972 Jay D. Jurie hitch-hiked to Volo, IL, where New American Movement held "what I believe was its second national gathering, a conference for organizers. I got dropped off at the dirt road leading into the camp were the meeting was to be held. As I walked along, a car stopped and offered me a ride, which I accepted. It was Paul Booth."

Along with his wife, Heather Booth, Bob Creamer and Day Creamer, and Steve Max, Paul Booth was one of those who had put the conference together. Many will recognize it was this same "cast of characters" who later formed the Midwest Academy.

Citizens Action

Former Students for a Democratic Society members Heather Booth and Paul Booth and Steve Max, were all leading activists in Citizens Action.[5]

"In Celebration of Michael Harrington"


"In Celebration of Michael Harrington" was held June 30 1988 Roseland Ballroom 239 West 52nd Street.

The Program

Tickets: $125 each. A $250 contribution enables you to attend a reception with the speakers prior to the Celebration. Proceeds from the tribute will endow The Next America Foundation, a new policy center Mike has created to be a powerful voice for justice and democracy in public debate. Make contributions payable to The Commonwealth Foundation and mail to l5 Dutch Street, Suite 500. New York, NY I 0038. All contributions are tax deductible. For more information about the Tribute, The Next America Foundation, or the Commemorative Journal, contact Jane Welna at (212) 962-0390.

Socialist Scholars Conference

Jo-Ann Mort, Democratic Socialists of America, James Weinstein, Editor, In These Times, Chris Owens, Chair, Paul Robeson Independent Democrats, Steve Max, Midwest Academy and L. Donelle Gladwin, DSA Youth Section were speakers on the The 92' Presidential Election: What's a Democratic Socialist To Do? panel sponsored by the Democratic Socialists of America at the Tenth Annual Socialist Scholars Conference. The conference was held April 24-26, 1992 at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York City.[6]

DSA Organizing Institute

Over fifty people attended the 1993 DSA Organizing Institute, which was held at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey during the weekend of June 25-27. The centerpiece of the weekend was an intensive series of training sessions, led by Steve Max, Deepak Pateriya, and Christine Riddiough, for DSA activists and organizers. These training sessions, which were based on the organizing methods developed by the Midwest Academy, helped build DSA local and national leaders' skills in developing political strategy, recruiting activists into DSA, and working in coalitions.

The Institute's training sessions were framed by two plenary discussions about DSA's mission. On Friday evening, DSA Honorary Chair Barbara Ehrenreich and DSA Vice Chairs Steve Max and Frances Fox Piven discussed the contemporary political climate and the most effective roles for a democratic socialist organization. On Sunday morning, National Political Committee member Jack Clark, DSA Youth Organizer Ginny Coughlin, and DSA National Director Michael Lighty spoke more concretely about how DSA can work to become a highly visible organization projecting a compelling political vision.[7]

Campaign for America's Future

In 1996 Steve Max, Midwest Academy was one of the original 130 founders of Campaign for America's Future.[8]

YDS conference

In August 2004, Young Democratic Socialists, the youth section of Democratic Socialists of America, held a national conference in New York City, "Life After Bush: Youth Activism & the Fight for Our Future". Speakers included;

  • Stephen Eric Bronner, Rutgers, who led a well-received presentation on democratic socialism.
  • John Mason, a Patterson University professor and London Tribune columnist, who offered alternatives to the U.S.-led occupation, observing that the bring the troops home now slogan is insufficient, given the dangers of civil war, Islamic fundamentalism and pervasive insecurity in Iraq.

The Future of Radical Democracy speakers included;

DSA vice-chair

Democratic Socialists of America Vice-Chairs in 2009 were;

Elaine Bernard, Edward Clark, Jose LaLuz, Steve Max, Harold Meyerson, Maxine Phillips, Christine Riddiough, Rosemary Ruether, Joseph Schwartz, Ruth Spitz, Motl Zelmanowicz[10].

Democratic Socialists of America Unity

Steve Max New York, supported the Democratic Socialists of America Unity grouping, established for the 2017 Democratic Socialists of America National Convention in Chicago.[11]

DSA North Star


In 2018 Steve Max was an original signatory of the DSA North Star founding principles statement.


  1. [1]
  2. Midwest Academy, Previous Recipients: Lifetime Achievement Award
  3. [, Dem Left,Remembering Doug Ireland: Comrade and Friend, Posted by Michael Hirsch on 11.07.13]
  4. NAM Disscussion Bulletin No. 9, March 1975, page 104
  5. A companion to post-1945 America, page 291 By Jean-Christophe Agnew, Roy Rosenzweig
  6. SSE Tenth Annual Conference Program, 1992
  7. Dem. Left July/August 1993, page 8
  8. CAF Co-Founders
  9. The Yankee Radical, Nov. 2004
  11. [2]