Radical History: Lessons from the Socialist Party of America

Radical History: Lessons from the Socialist Party of America

Join us at the Cleveland Public Library, Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch starting at 3:45 pm, on May 19th for a presentation and discussion about the radical history of Socialism in America and in Cleveland, Ohio!

Not just nostalgia for the past, the history of the Socialist Party has lessons for the rapidly growing Democrat Socialists of America.

Discussion will focus on the readings below. Please complete these readings prior to attending.


History of the Socialist Party:
The Rise and Fall of the Socialist Party of America
By Paul Heideman.
A great overview of the Socialist Party of America.

The Socialist Party and Race:
Being Red and Black in Jim Crow America
By Winston James
Overview of black socialists and the relation to the often racist Socialist Party.


The Black Man’s Burden I & II and Socialism and the Negro (from International Socialist Review).
By Hubert Harrison.
Hubert Harrison has been described as the “The Father Harlem Radicalism” with ties to both MLK and Malcom X via A. Philip Randolph and Marcus Garvey respectively. Read his views of “Socialism and the Negro” in this brief series.

Important events in the Socialist Party:

The Parting of the Ways in American Socialism
By Mary Brown Sumner.
Discusses the 1912 convention which punished labor “sabotage” leading the expulsion of IWW founder Bill Haywood and growing right wing influence in within the SP.

The Canton, Ohio Speech
By Eugene V. Debs.
The famous anti-war speech Eugene Debs gave in Canton, Ohio. Debs gave this speech while Clevelander and leader of the left wing of the SP, Charles E. Ruthenberg was incarcerated in Canton.

Socialist to Communist and The May Day Parade from The Day is Coming: The Life and Work of Charles E. Ruthenberg
By Oakley C. Johnson.
Ruthenberg was the national leader of the left wing of the SP and leader of Local Cleveland chapter of the SP. Read about the May Day riot in Cleveland that erupted after Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the Canton, Ohio Speech (see above).

The Chicago Conventions
By Max Eastman.
Deals with the final split of the SP in late 1919. After being expelled, the left wing split, including Ruthenberg, and formed the Communist Labor Party which would eventually merge with the largely foreign born Communist Party of America.

Hosted by Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America

May 19, 2018 at 3:45pm - 5:45pm
Cleveland Public Library, Martin Luther King Branch
1962 Stokes Blvd
Cleveland, OH 44106
United States
Google map and directions
Steve Holecko · · 440-220-1874

Will you come?

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.