Democratic National Conventions have come a long way since the last time the party’s delegates met in Denver. In 1908, when the party met in this western city, African-Americans sought but did not get a civil rights plank in the party platform. They had some allies within the party establishment. But Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, fearful that doing so might lose him votes in the segregationist south, would not even allow the document to include a denunciation of lynching.
This week, after a century of progressive activism on behalf of civil rights, an African American will be nominated for president. And he got that nomination after a remarkable nominating contest that saw more than 18 million Americans vote for a woman.
In 1908, women and most African Americans were denied the right to vote.
In 2008, a woman and an African American got more votes than all the white men combined.
This is not just a demographic shift. It is the measure of what progressives can achieve when they are committed to radical change.
But, just as the change agents of 1908 had friends inside the convention hall but had to bring pressure from outside the hall, so the change agents of 2008 will have an inside-outside strategy.
There will be progressives on the floor of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
But the dialogue about the future of progressive politics–in the party and nationally–will be at its most adventurous and exciting at Progressive Central in the historic Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Denver.
Members of Congress, delegates, alternates and activists–including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, House Judiciary Committee chair John Conyers, environmental campaigner Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Global Exchange founder Medea Benjamin and dozens of others–will speak, debate, listen, learn and plot strategies for the future of progressive politics in America. For a complete schedule, click here.
If you want a sneak preview of the issues and ideals that will be the conventional wisdom of the 2108 Democratic National Convention, join us at Progressive Central in 2008.
America’s democratic promise is beginning to be realized this week at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
But that promise will be fully realized by those who gather at Progressive Central.
If you’re in Denver, join us! If you’re following the convention from afar, watch The Nation website for regular updates on what’s happening inside the convention hall and outside at Progressive Central.