YDS at the People's Summit

by Meghan Brophy

From June 17-19, 3,000 activists from coast to coast gathered in Chicago at The People’s Summit to discuss building and strengthening progressive movements.  According to the organizers, “From the speakers’ podiums to discussion tables and workshops to trainings on everything from building independent politics to the digital political revolution to how to carry out civil disobedience, it was evident there was overwhelming unity of vision and a common commitment to solidarity in creating change.”

As one of the main sponsoring organizations, Democratic Socialists of America had a strong presence with over 100 members participating throughout the weekend.  Most notably, Young Democratic Socialists were visible and at the forefront of several key discussions.  For example, YDS collaborated with United Students Against Sweatshops, the United States Student Association, and Student Action to host the “Raising Hell on Campus” workshop.  Within this workshop, YDS-CC Co-Chair Shelby Murphy led a discussion on retaining the momentum from the Sanders’ campaign to organize on our campuses.  Other workshops and panels, with visible attendance and participation by DSA and YDS members, dealt with such broad topics as the Robin Hood tax, running for office, healthcare justice, digital campaigning, direct action, democratic socialism, and political art.

YDS members were also visible and participatory during many of the DSA-specific events at the summit. YDS-CC Co-Chair Jack Suria Linares led a discussion on socialist organizing towards anti-racist causes as part of a panel discussion with DSA National Political Committee member and Vice-Chair Joseph Schwartz. Additionally, many YDS members helped staff the DSA information table and the main People’s Summit help and assistance desk.

During one of the main plenaries, many DSA and YDS members served as small group facilitators for table discussions.  These conversations raised an array of important organizational, strategic, and political ideas on the next steps forward for political revolution.  Speakers such as National Nurses United Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro, Nation journalist John Nichols, Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia, former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, and several dedicated organizers representing different organizations and campaigns were incredibly inspiring and raised important ideas for discussion.  Likewise, regional breakout groups provided an important space to network with other organizers in our communities and on our campuses.

Since the overarching idea of The People’s Summit was to prepare to build transformative movements, we bought up the upcoming Young Democratic Socialists/College Students for Bernie conference “From Sanders to the Grassroots: Continuing the Political Revolution Among the Student Left” both at the DSA table and in student-oriented workshops.  With students today more open to democratic socialism than the youth of any past generation, these two groups are collaborating to best consolidate and direct progressive energy growing on campuses.  The response from other People’s Summit attendees was overwhelmingly positive.  

As a whole, the United States is undergoing an incredible period of change and development of political consciousness.  From Occupy Wall Street to the Fight for 15 to Black Lives Matter to the tremendous outpouring of support for Bernie Sanders, there is a growing potential to build a bold mass socialist movement.  The visible presence of members of Young Democratic Socialists both at The People’s Summit and throughout the Sanders movement is indicative of a growing desire of youth to fight back against the billionaire class.

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