Home2020 Elections8/17 DSA Keynote Speech: Solidarity is a Force Stronger Than Gravity
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Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death
Aint Supposed to Die A Natural Death

Wow! Powerful!! Got to read it again and again. Wish I could have heard it live. Thanks for posting this, Benny.


Me too ASTDAND! It’s a real pleasure to read the transcript just now (thank you Benny), and I wish I could have heard it live. But all I could do at the time was watch the twitter hashtag comments pouring out and wonder who the heck WAS this woman who was making all these good people cry.


thanks Benny!


Thank you Benny!

When I was trying to keep an eye on the conference, then saw this huge uptick on the twitter thread as soon as Sarah began speaking, it wasn’t hard to notice the impact she was having on her audience. After she was done speaking there were scads of tweets talking about having a tear in their eye (kind of thing).

Tbh, I didn’t really know about Sarah until that time, but now, after reading the transcript, I can see why she elicited such a deep response.

The entire speech is so full of goodness!

When the teachers of West Virginia were grappling with whether or not to strike, the bus drivers told them “We’ve got your back. Not a single bus will drive students to school.” Too often, we don’t understand our own power. Look around — it’s all of us together.

When we start with what people feel and see in their lives, we can build solidarity. It’s amazing what solidarity on a worksite can do. People who may be on opposite ends of a political debate can find common ground when you ground that fight in the workplace.

You can highlight almost every bit of it.

It reminded me that for every fight forward we win in a contract, until our nation recognizes each of our inherent dignity in equal rights under the law, we struggle under an invisible weight that sometimes we don’t even see ourselves.

I’ll tell you something — there’s a weight that every woman in this room deserves to have lifted.

I think her name is Sarah Nelson?


I hope you don’t mind, Benny, if I post this little clip of one DSA conference attendee’s observation re: Sarah.

A Gathering of Comrades

The bad feelings and motion sickness that arose during the formal debate sessions were relieved by the presence of guest speakers and panelists. The obvious highlight among these was Sara Nelson of the flight attendants union. I knew of Nelson thanks to her role in pressuring Trump during the government shutdown (the New York Times ran a good profile). What I did not know was that she was an authentic labor radical of a kind not seen for about a century. Nelson is deceptive; she looks, well, like a typical flight attendant. She has a boring name. But when she spoke, she channeled the spirit of Emma Goldman and Mother Jones. Wearing a dress covered with red roses, she praised “our democratic socialist heroes Eugene Victor Debs and Lucy Gonzalez Parsons” and called for a return to the “militant rank and file organizing approach that built the early labor movement.”

Nelson began her speech talking about a strike of washerwomen in 1880s Atlanta, former slaves who refused to settle for pitiful pay. She teared up while telling the story. “The law wasn’t on the side of these women, the economy wasn’t. But they were smart, creative, and fearless.” She related how, as a young flight attendant, she realized the power the airline had over her, and how she discovered a power of her own by joining a union. She talked of the meaning of solidarity, the strength of picket lines, and said: “The labor movement belongs to all working people. Women, people of color, young people: Join unions and run unions.” Nelson ended the speech by asking everyone to stand and turn to their neighbor, promising them “I’ve got your back.” The crowd began chanting “I’VE GOT YOUR BACK” over and over, and then spontaneously burst into the final lines of “Solidarity Forever.” I’ll confess, I was in tears. It’s hard to know sometimes whether people are “the real deal” or just speaking in crowd-pleasing platitudes. Nelson’s speech showed that she has a serious grounding in labor history and is a radical to her core. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

The most incredible thing I saw, then, was a socialist flight attendant wearing red roses getting a thousand people to promise they’d always stand by one another in the struggle. A close second, however, was the Elected Officials Press Conference.


I’ll have to look for it, but I think I already shared that moment when the crowd spontaneously rose up from their chairs to chant “I’ve got your back!”. Powerful stuff.


“some of them flying over us right now, raining down solidarity on this dinner tonight” 🙂
(2:51 min mark)

Here is Sarah last May, in Chicago, at a DSA meeting there. Chicago is such a fertile ground for DSA apparently! I had no idea that Helen Keller was a Democratic Socialist, or Albert Einstein, or George Orwell, for that matter.


T and R, Benny!! I’ve told my story before. 🙂 Having spent my whole working life toiling in a “Right to Work”/Right to Serf state, I know the abuse first hand. Lousy wages, very few if any raises, no benefits worth the name, abusive and/or criminal employers, etc. A decent job/boss was as rare as a blue moon. It’s still that way. 🙁 I definitely have the back of and believe in unions. Great speech, BTW. 🙂