October 31, 2023

Second Annual Dr. Chinmoy Banerjee Memorial Lecture in Anti-Racism: “Anti Racism, the Labour Movement, and the Role of Elected Officials”

Burnaby, BC

On October 30, 2023, the Second Annual Dr. Chinmoy Banerjee Memorial Lecture in Anti-Racism titled "Anti-Racism, the Labour Movement, and the Role of Elected Officials" was presented by the Institute of Humanities at Simon Fraser University. Kshama Sawant was the Keynote Speaker, and the lecture was followed by a roundtable with Anjali Appadurai, Michal Ma, Yameena Zaidi (Teaching Support Staff Union) and was moderated by Samir Gandesha.

Kshama Sawant is the first elected socialist in Seattle in nearly a century. She was first elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013, running openly as a member of Socialist Alternative, long before Bernie Sanders and AOC were household names. She is currently the longest-serving sitting Seattle Councilmember. Kshama only accepts the average worker’s wage, and, after taxes, donates the rest of her six-figure City Council salary to a solidarity fund for worker organizing and social movements.

An outspoken socialist who has taken no corporate campaign money, Kshama has won four elections, defeating Seattle’s elite, corporate landlords, and some of the most powerful corporations in the world, like Amazon, who have spent millions of dollars to try and unseat her. 

Winning these elections also meant overcoming the opposition of the city’s Democratic Party, who have attempted to defeat Kshama by running both big-business-backed and self-described “progressive” candidates against her. Socialist Alternative and Kshama have consistently clarified that despite their differences, both Democrats and Republicans serve the wealthy, and that working people need a new party of their own.

Socialist Alternative and Kshama have used her elected office to help lead movements that have won historic working-class victories. Alongside rank-and-file union members and other workers, they made Seattle the first major city to gain the $15/hour minimum wage in 2014 and won the Amazon Tax in 2020 on big business to fund affordable housing and Green New Deal programs.

Keynote Address
The keynote address was delivered by Kshama Sawant, Member of Seattle City Council and Member of the Socialist Alternative Party.
Second Annual Dr. Chinmoy Bannerjee Memorial Lecture in Anti-Racism