The Red Letter Issue II

Welcome to Issue II of The Red Letter, a YDSA newsletter produced by The Activist editorial board!

Have you missed us? As we explained last month, the name The Red Letter comes from YDSA’s original internal newsletter during the first iteration of The Activist during the 2000s. As YDSA continues to grow to new membership heights, a newsletter like this can serve a critical function of connecting and informing our members about the most important organizing work being done by YDSA members.

What’s in The Red Letter?

  • A roundup of articles in The Activist from the past month
  • An update from the YDSA National Coordinating Committee on national work
  • Highlights from notable work of individual chapters
  • Pitches that you should write about for The Activist!

We hope to develop The Red Letter into a monthly staple that all YDSA members look forward to reading. If you are interested in contributing articles, chapter reports, or anything else to either The Activist or The Red Letter you can fill out this form to let us know! And check out our recently released full Spring 2023 print issue. You can also read this newsletter on your browser. The Red Letter is sent out the first Monday of the month.

The Activist Editorial Board

National Coordinating Committee Bulletin

As we kickoff June we want to wish all of our LGBTQ+ comrades a happy pride month! Despite corporate pinkwashing and the commodification of our identities, Pride has its roots in the radical queer and trans liberation movements spearheaded by Black and Brown trans activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie. There is also a long history of queer and trans comrades, such as Rose Schneiderman and Bayard Rustin, organizing within the American labor and socialist movements. We are proud to be part of an organization that carries on the legacy of the generations of queer and trans organizers who struggled for a better world before us. 

This pride month, we must also face the reality that our community, our rights, and our lives are under attack. State legislatures across the country are debating and passing laws that block access to HRT and allow the state to abduct trans children from their parents if they receive gender-affirming treatment. “Don’t Say Gay” laws passed in many of the same states aim to erase queer and trans people from history. Moreover, the far-right and anti-democratic Supreme Court has signaled its intent to attack LGBTQ+ rights at the federal level. YDSA chapters, especially those in the South, have done critical organizing in response to these attacks. As the Right becomes emboldened, we must continue to meet them with the organization and solidarity necessary to defeat them. 

One way to do that over the summer is participating in our labor organizing program: Red Hot Summer! The program will consist of two tracks, one focusing on labor organizing skills for participants that are currently working or will be in the fall, and another focusing on political education and solidarity with UPS Teamsters in their contract fight. RHS is open to all young workers, regardless of whether they are in YDSA, and participants can choose to participate in one or both tracks. Through RHS we are hoping to launch dozens of new union drives and YDSA chapters across the country. More than 350 people have already signed up, make sure to sign up today

We hope to see you at Red Hot Summer and hope you all have a month filled with radical solidarity, love, and joy. 

In Solidarity,

YDSA National Coordinating Committee

YDSA Victories

YDSA chapters won big for students and workers this year! At Wesleyan University, the YDSA chapter won a campaign to get the school to cover all costs associated with reproductive care, including transportation to and from clinics and pain-relief medication after procedures! YDSA members at Louisiana Tech University organized students to drive hate preachers off their campus. UMN YDSAers at both the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses organized to support campus workers in Teamsters Local 320 in their successful fight for a fair contract. In support of the ongoing WGA strike, Boston University YDSA protested Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav’s commencement speech, repeatedly interrupting his speech with chants and boos. 

If your chapter has held a major event, won part or all of your demands, or has other work they want to share with National YDSA, be sure to fill out the YDSA Victories Reporting Form

The Activist Roundup 

Meet the Multiracial Working Class Where They Are: Public Universities and Community Colleges.

By: Carlos Callejo III

From being an at-large member of YDSA fresh out of high school in 2016 to co-founding a chapter at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, I have seen countless debates and victories for YDSA. The great campaigns YDSA has engaged in, from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaigns to fighting for tangible change on numerous college campuses, are admirable and should be celebrated. However, we should recognize that with Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign underway, the Bernie Sanders moment is over and YDSA stands at a crossroads where we lack a coordinated political strategy. At this moment, I believe we must reorient our national priorities and focus on organizing strong YDSA chapters at public universities and community colleges.

Well-organized radical student movements have been integral parts of socialist campaigns across the globe, including fights against the South Korean dictator Park Chung-Hee or Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. But it was right here at California State University, Los Angeles or Cal State LA, where my paternal grandparents were exposed to Marxism and socialist feminism during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. Their learning and activism there had a deep influence on their children and grandchildren and led many in my family to careers as educators and civil servants and also strong pro-labor beliefs. 

From their example, I remember that we will not always be a part of YDSA, and once our time in college is over, we will be forced to reckon with the reality of capitalism in our day-to-day working lives. The experience of socialist organizing in YDSA will help us keep the flame of socialism alive as we graduate and join the workforce. It is imperative that we instill these socialist beliefs in a more diverse membership and develop a lifelong socialist cadre from YDSA. For many people, college is a critical juncture where they are exposed to socialist organizing for the first time and where the pressures of capitalism are somewhat reduced relative to the pressures that they will experience once they enter the workforce. College is when many of us have more time to consider how best to build society before the pressures of capitalism alienate so many of us from our time to contemplate. 

Read More

The Activist Left Made Brandon Johnson’s Victory Possible

By: Zurie Pope

Brandon Johnson, a former organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union, was sworn in Monday as the 57th mayor of Chicago. Activists on the Left determined this election – and are positioned to do the same for how his term as mayor will unfold. Read here.

Boston University YDSA Won for Tenants in LA Because DSA is a National Organization

By: Vivian Dai

Boston University tried to sell four apartment buildings in Los Angeles to a private firm, effectively displacing their current occupants. BU YDSA was able to use the power of their national organization to stop it. Read here.

Write for The Activist!

Full-length articles should be 800-1200 words. Chapter reports should cover the activity of your YDSA chapter in the past few months in 100-300 words. Both types of submissions can be submitted via e-mail to [email protected] or via this form.

This month’s pitches:

  1. Write an article in support of or against a resolution or amendment up at convention.
  2. Write an article about how the political environment of your state affects your chapters work.
  3. Write a piece in reaction to the debt ceiling agreement or another recent piece of legislation.

Coming Up This Month

Here is a quick overview of some of the most important calls and deadlines coming up this month. Be on the lookout for more information to come! 

  • YDSA Convention Deadlines
  • June Strategy Call – Tuesday June 13 – 8pm ET / 5pm PT
    • Calling all chapter leaders! Join NCC members to talk about your chapter, work through problems together, and discuss prioritization in our organizing.
  • Red Hot Summer Launch – Wednesday June 21 – 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT
    • Join labor leaders and socialist organizers to kick off Red Hot Summer 2023! Sign up for the program to receive the link.

That’s it for this month’s issue of the Red Letter. Be on the lookout for a new issue on the first Monday of every month.