Hello Charlotte Metro DSA Members,
2018 was our second year in existence, and one that saw a lot of change and action. Firstly, our charter and bylaws were accepted from DSA National and we transitioned from an organizing committee to an official chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America. With official chapter status, we were able to hold our first officer elections in November, and now we can start the process to become a non-profit, open a bank account and receive a percentage of our dues back from national’s coffers.
Last year, we hosted several political education events to increase consciousness around issues important to building working class solidarity and power in our community. In January we hosted Medicare for All expert, writer and fellow DSA member, Tim Faust, for a rousing speech and Q and A session about Health Care justice. In May we put on a labor week with help from local unions and hosted two events at the IBEW hall. The first of the events was a panel discussion with local union officers and labor organizers, where the speakers dissected local peculiarities of organizing labor in the South and problems facing unions in Charlotte. To cap off the week we hosted the creators of the documentary “Union Time” about unionization of a Smithfield plant in eastern North Carolina.
Mutual aid is also an important part of building working class power. Our chapter hosted 6 brake light clinics last year, because broken or burnt out taillights are one of the most common reasons for traffic stops. By offering free light changes, we can help folks in marginalized and exploited communities avoid police interaction that can lead to arrest or violence. We also assisted Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy in their upkeep and maintenance of their office space so they can continue advocating for their clients. Helping CCLA allows Charlotte Metro DSA to increase local ties and help out a wonderful organization that offers legal assistance to the most vulnerable in our community.
To continue building an effective chapter, many of our members have gone to regional trainings in Atlanta, Asheville and Knoxville. We have learned skills to help us organize our membership, develop leadership in the chapter and assess obstacles to change locally. These trainings also led to the creation of the Outreach and Retention Committee to continue these lessons and build a sustainable and effective chapter.
There are already many plans in motion for 2019, and more to come. Housing will be our chapter’s focus issue in 2019, and in February we had our first Housing Committee meeting. In less than 18 months, the RNC will be in our city and we have begun strategizing how to be most effective during the convention. This year we will also have our first May Day picnic to celebrate International Worker’s Day. There will certainly be more to come!