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General News    H2'ed 5/30/18

Left Forum 2018 Is Almost Here

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Editor's note: I'll be chairing a panel, Bottom-Up and Top-Down Thinking About the System and Change and speaking on Saturday afternoon, 4:00 PM in room 1.63. If you are speaking at Left Forum, please add a comment with your presentation information. rob kall

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Left Forum, a 501c3 nonprofit which envisions a world in which radical imagination becomes a tool for self-empowerment that challenges society to build a process for collaborative and emancipatory leadership, will host the Left Forum 2018 conference June 1-3 at John Jay College in New York City.

Even though some of the most dangerous and oppressive aspects of America - rapacious capitalism and foundational racism and misogyny - have come out of the shadows and into a chillingly clear light, we believe these are invigorating times for a left resurgence. Still, our own movements - for worker power, race, gender and sexuality, justice, ecological healing, anti-war and a broad anti-white-nationalist front - while under attack, are also on the rise. To make gains, to win battles, we must build a strong unified left which moves beyond the constructed dichotomies of class and identity, violence and nonviolence, reform and revolution.

And the space for left unity and power building is Left Forum 2018.

Running from June 1-3 at John Jay College in New York City, the conference will see a range of speakers, activists and public figures meeting to discuss topics and issues including environmentalism, sexual, racial and class equality, workers rights, anti-war strategies and more, striving to advance causes and build alliances to effect real change in the world. In this way, Left Forum is the focal point and meeting ground for people with radical ideas.

Among those speaking are award-winning investigative reporter Juan Gonzalez; Kali Akuno, codirector of Cooperation Jackson; Jane Sanders of the Sanders institute; Gayle McLaughlin, the former Mayor of Richmond, California; Paul Jay, CEO of The Real News Network; Ajamu Baraka, Green Party vice presidential nominee; political activist Medea Benjamin of Code Pink; economist Samir Amin; political economist and author David Harvey; and Richard Wolff of Democracy at Work.

Left Forum 2018 will also feature a series of musical acts performing in John Jay's Black Box Theater, bringing a range of styles and including performances by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir, Nia & Ness, Raymond Nat Turner, and Jeremiah Hosea & the Narco Bourgeois with Jerome Jordan and Swiss Chris (featuring a special performance by Gabriella Callender), while Rebel Diaz will host a panel exploring the potential for hip hop to build left-leaning youth movements.

In this nurturing atmosphere of solidarity and cooperative action, Left Forum co-directors Ashley Abbott and Marcus Graetsch are optimistic about what the conference can achieve, with Abbott saying, "The left has a uniquely robust power source gathering at the intersection of issues, identities, ideologies and constituencies. There are so many examples of this model of convergence and creative action today. This is the model on which we come together to formulate new strategies for a new world. Left Forum can be a living example of the exact opposite of division and destruction: a new convergence and a space for possibility, for hope and for power. "

The Left Forum will feature keynote speakers each night, exploring and constructing a narrative based on this year's theme - "Towards A New Strategy For The Left." Friday night's opening plenary will dissect how we arrived here and will be followed on Saturday by exploration of what strategies and tactics were used and what worked and didn't work, with the closing plenary on Sunday considering what our vision is for moving forward.

At the conference and beyond, the Left Forum will be a planning space for creating a real, viable left alliance that shapes and generates real progress and change.

Contact: Marcus Graetsch/Ashley Abbott Tel: (212) 817-2003

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