The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan

Recorded 11.03.2016 — Chicago DSA’s Aaron Armitage interviews Cecily McMillan on her memoir. McMillan is a DSA activist who had been involved in the Wisconsin protests

Cecily McMillan
McMillan at press conference upon release from Rikers Island.

against Governor Scott Walker and in Occupy Wall Street. In an almost accidental connection with Occupy, she was arrested under dubious circumstances for assaulting a police officer, convicted, and sentenced to Rikers Island.

This interview explores the intersection of the personal and the political. In particular, McMillan describes growing up in an isolated rural Texas town, her dawning awareness of a larger world that leads to a continuing reassessment of her sense of identity. McMillan and Armitage discuss the Walker protests and Occupy Wall Street: It’s good, bad, and inadequate aspects.

In the end, many of the problems facing the poor

Cecily McMillan
McMillan at Seminary Co-op Bookstore.

and marginalized end up being regarded as personal problems. But, as McMillan notes at the end, “if it becomes personal, there is no language to deal with it.”

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The Emancipation of Cecily McMillan by Cecily McMillan

A Tale of Two Cities and Rev. Pinkney

Recorded August 25, 2016. It’s a story of racism, class, corporate power and the denial of democracy and justice. It is a story of how neoliberal policies are affecting all parts of our country. Tom Broderick interviews Robert McKay and Paul Sakol about how Reverend Edward Pinkney ran up against an obdurate and vindictive local Establishment in Benton Harbor / St. Joseph, Michigan, that has put him in jail… for possibly a long time.

Robert McKay is a member of the Central Coordinating Committee to Free Rev. Edward Pinkney and a spokesperson for the Free Reverend Pinkney Campaign.

Paul Sakol was the Executive Director of the Blue Gargoyle Social Service Agency in Hyde Park covering the south side of Chicago from 2002 to 2007. He was the Executive Director of the Lupus Foundation branch in Illinois 2009 to 2011. He is a social worker who did psychotherapy and administration for various mental health and social service agencies in Chicago and northeastern Indiana. He worked for the Federal Government in DC for 9 years early in his career for HUD and the OMB. His education includes an MBA and an MA in Social Work both from the University of Chicago. He is an LCSW in the State of Illinois.

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Black Autonomy Network Community Organization

Justice4Pinkney

Two Towns, Two America: The Story of Rev. Edward Pinkney” by Paul Sakol

Why Is Rev. Edward Pinkney in Prison? Another Case of Political Persecution” by Jackie Miller


The Crime & Tragedy of Honduras

Recorded June 16, 2016. On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military exiled the democratically elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. On March 2, 2016, Berta Cáceres, a leader in the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was assassinated. The proximate cause was her leadership in the campaign to prevent the damming of the Gualcarque River, but Gualcarque dam was but a part of nationwide corporate resource extraction project that has earmarked almost 30% of the country’s land for mining concessions and the construction of hundreds of dams to power them.

In this episode of Talkin’ Socialism, Chicago DSA’s Tom Broderick is in conversation with Victoria Cervantes and Celeste Larkin about these developments in Honduras and the solidarity campaigns for human rights in Honduras and for justice for Berta Cáceres.

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Vicki Cervantes is a founding member of the Chicago based solidarity and human rights organization, La Voz de los de Abajo. La Voz de los de Abajo was created in 1998 after Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras. After the military coup in Honduras in June 2009, La Voz de los de Abajo helped to found the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN). Vicki is currently the North American coordinator in North America for the HSN. She travels regularly to Honduras and spends time in the campesino and indigenous communities and with the resistance movement.

Celeste Larkin is Public Policy Coordinator Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN). CRLN is a grassroots organizing and advocacy institution in Chicago that focuses on changing U.S. interventionism and trade policy in Latin America. CRLN also works to stop deportations in Chicago and change immigration policy to make life better for immigrants.



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Who Watches the Watchmen?

Recorded May 14, 2016. Tom Broderick interviews Ciera Walker, Congregational Organizer at the Community Renewal Society, and Rev. Christopher Griffin, an activist with the Community Renewal Society, about the Society’s proposed FAIR COPS ordinance and about their report Who Watches the Watchmen?

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Our Interviewees

Christopher Griffin

Christopher L. Griffin is a product of the Chicago Public Schools graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School. He then attended Columbia College in Chicago where he studied Photography and Film. As a member of the First Baptist Congregational Church in Chicago, Illinois he received his calling into ministry in 1979 and was licensed at the age of 16. His desire to follow his calling took him to seminary where began his biblical studies at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

He was a founding member of Son Light Ministries, a youth drama ensemble comprised of youth and young adults from various churches in the Chicago area. He was also a youth supervisor in the district and state Illinois Missionary Baptist Conventions from 1981 through 1994.

He has been guest speaker on numerous occasions for a variety of social justice and religious organizations over the years such as the Older Boys & Girls Youth Conference, the Midwest Missionary Baptist Youth Conference, the Northwood River District, Illinois Missionary Baptist Convention, the International Sunday School Broadcast, the LEADERS Network and the Community Renewal Society.

Rev. Griffin has served in many areas of ministry over the years. Most recently he served as Youth Pastor of the Y-LIFE Ministry for high school aged youth (2009-2015).

In May of 2015 after 35 years of service he resigned as the Assistant Pastor of Administration at First Baptist Congregational Church (2011-2015) and joined Soul City Church on Chicago’s near west side.

Chris resides with his wife of 27 years (Angela) in East Garfield in Chicago and is currently employed by the City of Chicago where he has worked for 30 years.

They have two daughters, Angel Imani and Ashley Nyota.

Ciera Walker

Ciera Walker is the congregational organizer for the south side of Chicago and south Suburbs. Ciera is committed to serving the vulnerable, oppressed, and impoverished. As a Chicago Native, Ciera was raised on the Southside of Chicago and in her late teen she moved to Texas. Ciera studied at Lamar University and received a bachelor’s degree in social work. She continued her studies art University of Illinois at Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work, and received a Master’s degree in Social Work, with a concentration in community health and urban development.  By being exposed to the structural racism in Chicago and the blatant racism in the south, Ciera took a vow to stand against social and economic injustice.

Ciera is also an ordained Minister through the Church of Jesus Christ House of Prayer INC. She is married to Pastor Christopher Walker and to their union they have four children.

Episode 62 — Syria’s Great Migration

Recorded March 12, 2016. Syria’s civil war has displaced an enormous percentage of its population, either internally or to an external diaspora. DSA’s Tom Broderick interviews Suzanne Akhras Sahloul, founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, about the dimensions of the problem and about the work of the Syrian Community Network: welcoming Syrian refugees to Chicago and helping them make sense of a new culture.

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul
Suzanne Akhras Sahloul

Suzanne Akhras Sahloul is the founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Community Network, a community based refugee support network. The  Syrian Community Network based in Chicago promotes the spirit of community, family and Syrian culture. Suzanne is also the founder of the Syrian American Medical Society’s Midwest Foundation serving as its President from 2004-2006 and as SAMS National Foundation President from 2005-2007. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Lewis University. Suzanne is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management. Additionally, Suzanne has also served as PTA President and as a board member at her children’s school. Suzanne is married to Dr. Zaher Sahloul and they are the proud parents of three children.

Episode 61 — The Rauner Agenda

Recorded February 6, 2016. Bunnie Johnson (Shop Steward and Executive Board member for AFSCME Local 2858, and a caseworker for the Illinois Department of Human Services) and Fran Tobin (Coordinator, Alliance for Community Services) in conversation with Chicago DSA’s Bob Roman. What happens when the State pretends there is no money? What happens to Human Services when the government is run “like a business”? Welcome to the new barbarity.

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Episode 61
(LtoR) Fran Tobin, Bob Roman, Bunnie Johnson. Photo: Fran Tobin

Episode 55 — Burge, Torture, and Reparations

“Lady Law never stands so tall as when she stands on someone’s hand.”

In November of 1983, Darrell Cannon was awakened by the Chicago police smashing through his apartment door, hell-bent on clearing a homicide case from their docket. Taken to a remote location in south-side Chicago’s industrial waste-land by officer Jon Burge and an eager crew of homicide detectives, Cannon was tortured into saying whatever was needed for a “confession”. Convicted on the basis of this “evidence”, Darrell Cannon spent the next 24 years in prison, much of it in isolation at the TAMMS Super-Max prison.

Chicago DSA’s Bill Barclay interviews Darrell Cannon about how he eventually was able to get his conviction overturned, the campaign for reparations for survivors of Chicago Police torture (stemming from a complaint to the United Nations), and most especially the terms of the reparations passed by the Chicago City Council and the consequences for policing in Chicago.

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About Darrell Cannon

Darrell Cannon is an activist, inspirational speaker and leader in the movement for reparations for the Chicago Police Torture survivors. Darrell was tortured on November 2, 1983 by white detectives working under the supervision of the torture ring-leader, the notorious former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. After being electrically shocked on his genitals with a cattle prod, subjected to mock execution with a shot gun, hung by his handcuffs and tormented with racist slurs and epithets, he confessed to being an accomplice to a murder.   The confession led to his wrongful conviction for murder and twenty-four years of incarceration, ten of which he spent in Tamms Correctional Center, a super-max prison that he worked with scores of others to close in 2013.

He has testified before Chicago’s City Council in support of the reparations ordinance. He also has spoken to countless numbers of people, in small, intimate audiences to wide lectures halls, at high schools, universities, churches including Operation Rainbow Push, as well as national gatherings convened by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

He has also appeared on numerous television shows, including on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera, and his work and story have been covered in numerous articles in print media including Mother Jones and the Chicago Reader, and he has been quoted at length in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Reporter, DNAinfo, Final Call and other news outlets.


For More Information

Reparations, Torture, and Echos From the ‘House of Screams’

Reparations Won!

Reparations: A Blueprint to Address Systemic Police Violence by Joey Mogul

Chicago’s Reparations for Police Torture Victims Offer a Glimpse of the Power of #BlackLivesMatter by Kirsten West Savali

Good Cop? Bad Cop? No Cop! Queer Resistance to Policing by Therese Quinn and Erica R. Meiners

Poverty Crime, Privileged Crime by Kristian Williams