Chapter’s New Leaders Look to the Future

DSA New Orleans’ first majority-online elections swept in a wave of new officers last week. New Co-Chairs Frances G. and Benjamin H. and Membership Chair Sean D. said their top priorities include finalizing a code of conduct, expanding and engaging the general membership, and empowering members.

Other election winners were:

  • Secretary: Lori D.
  • Treasurer: James P.
  • At-large Members: Nadia E. & Andrew S.
  • Treasurer Trustee: Alli D.

“Even though this is a really challenging time within our chapter and outside, it’s also a moment of incredible opportunity,” said Frances, who’s served in the past as Health Care Committee Chair and chapter Secretary. “I want to see as much work and decision-making as possible done by the general membership, with the Local Council facilitating.”

Benjamin, the Direct Service Committee Steward, agreed that empowering members should be a top goal of the new Local Council, along with building formal processes for identifying and developing leaders.

“We’ve already created an environment where you can come in green and learn how to be a solid organizer and leader, but we should do some formalizing of that process,” he said.

To that end, Sean suggested building/formalizing positions within a Membership Committee that engage and motivate new members, including membership trustee, mobilizing team head, and social organizer.

“Membership isn’t built top-down. Membership is grown when people make those connections one-on-one. The biggest thing we can do is to provide spaces where people can meet and exchange ideas,” said Sean, who has experience organizing with the Interfaith Prayer Vigil and as an internal mobilizer on the chapter’s City Waste Working Group.

All three of the chapter’s new top leaders identified a lack of diversity among the leadership as a critical obstacle in the coming year. 

 “We have to figure out structural solutions to these systemic structural problems,” Frances said. “We have to do externally-facing work that puts us in the trenches with other working-class organizations alongside black- and brown-led organizations.”

Benjamin said he wants to work quickly on establishing a long-term defund and disarm the police campaign that would engage the entire chapter in anti-racism work.

“Can we claw back the funds that the city is putting into reactive, racist policies and put them toward health justice or a green new deal or housing justice?” he asked.

Educating new members on the chapter’s politics by creating a political program would be a critical goal for Sean in the coming months.

“It’s one thing to provide a space for people to learn, but if we don’t have a framework to work with it, we can lose sight of where we stand as democratic socialists,” he said. “The membership political spectrum can vary as far as Marxist to Anarchist, so we need to clearly define and come to a consensus on our chapter values”

Frances had her eyes on a large-scale political campaign: a City Council seat in 2021. 

“Even a long-shot campaign would still solidify our knowledge base and get us out there more,” she said. “In any campaign, we can drag the whole thing to the left by staking out further leftward positions.”

How Can I Help?

Message Frances, Benjamin, Sean, or any of the chapter’s officers on Slack with questions and suggestions, or email to reach us!

Black Land Loss: Addressing Equity in Louisiana Agriculture

By Alli D.

Decades of racist practices at the USDA have robbed black Louisianans of their farmland, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry could help undo this injustice. Ag Commissioner candidate Marguerite Green wants to make sure that they do. 

Agriculture is big business in Louisiana. The state’s forests and fields are one of our main industries, supporting hundreds of communities and thousands of families. 

While farming can be a lucrative business, it has been at the expense of black farmers, whose land has been stolen from them through corrupt institutional practices, discrimination, intimidation, and collusion. As Vann Newkirk documented recently for The Atlantic, Wall Street firms like TIAA are buying up farmland in the Mississippi Delta, pushing black farmers off their families’ lands. In total, black farmers in the US have lost 12 million acres in the last century. This crisis of land loss is acute in Louisiana. 


Voting for Bernie? Check Your Registration

By Noah T.

Registering as a Democrat

On April 4, Louisiana will hold a primary election to decide which Democratic candidate to support in a run for president. This will be a closed primary, so it will only be open to registered Democrats. Many members of the Democratic Socialists of America are not registered Democrats: they may have been drawn to the DSA because they have no faith in existing political parties, or because they don’t see any political party that is a good representation of their personal ideology. The Democratic Socialists of America are a political group, but not a party. When our members register to vote, we don’t have a DSA box to check, we have to make our own choice about party affiliation. In this primary for the Democratic nominee for president, we are encouraging our members to register as democrats to take part in this contest. It’s a simple process for voters to change party affiliation to Democrat to cast this vote, and then change to something else afterward if they wish.


How Solidarity And Tenacity Defeated A Billion-Dollar Toxic Chemical Plant

By David B.

Last month, chemical company Wanhua announced its withdrawal from a bid that would have seen it build a 250-acre plant in Convent, a small community along the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, Louisiana. Its defeat can be attributed in large part to community activists, including Rise St. James, a local, faith-based group determined to turn the tide on toxic air, land, and water pollution caused by a chemical industry run amok. There are 22,000 residents of St. James, and 32 chemical plants. The defeat of the $1.2 billion complex means that its annual production of 300 tons of harmful pollutants will not exacerbate a problem in a community already dubbed Cancer Alley.


Ojos del Congreso Combats ICE’s Campaign of Terror

By Scott A.

ICE is waging a terror campaign in our community. It has residents afraid to leave their homes, go to church, pick up their kids, or go to work. The campaign is part of a nationwide push to dehumanize and threaten immigrant communities, and a local organization, Congreso del Jornaleros (Congress of Day Laborers), has served a critical role in protecting our vulnerable neighbors.


Baton Rouge DSA Joins Fight for Justice

Baton Rouge is a city under siege. 

Whether it’s tax policy that throws away public resources, a carceral system that steals years of labor from citizens or demagogues aiming to divide with extremist right-wing rhetoric, the residents of the state capital face a constant barrage of reactionary politics.

In that environment, a new DSA chapter is working to bring socialist ideas to the fore. 


An Interview with Pepper Bowen Roussel

Photo Credit:

By Noah T.

Pepper Bowen Roussel is a food, water and environmental attorney running for State Representative of District 91 in New Orleans, the election of which will be on October 12. Ms. Roussel did not seek or receive the endorsement of the DSA, but agreed to an interview to explain some of her positions. To find out more about her campaign, visit her site This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


Marguerite Green Qualifies for State Ballot

Photo Courtesy Margee Green

By Scott A. 

Louisiana will officially have a DSA member on the statewide ballot on Oct. 12. 

Marguerite “Margee” Green has qualified for the race for Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry. She aims to unseat incumbent Mike Strain on a platform that will elevate all Louisianans, and she’ll need volunteers to do it


Jane Place Fights Mounting Housing Crisis

$100 late rent fees. Evictions without warning. Refusing to fix collapsed ceilings.

These are merely a few of the myriad abuses New Orleans DSA member Breonne D. has seen in her time as an organizer with Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative.

For over 10 years, Jane Place has fought the deluge of gentrification, rent hikes, and landlord abuse in one of the most hostile regulatory environments in the nation. Their goal: decommodification of housing. Their method: community land trusts and expanded housing rights.