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Press Release: Announcing The People’s Convergence Conference and Draft Bernie Town Hall

Featuring Dr. Cornel West and Kshama Sawant

For Immediate Release

Aug. 2, 2017

Carol Ehrle | | (248) 808-4200

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Progressives from around the country will gather in the nation’s capital Sept. 8-10 for The People’s Convergence Conference to discuss the central questions facing our movement: What will it take to defeat the right wing and build a powerful left alternative? Should progressives continue the fight to reform the Democratic Party or should we launch a people’s party independent of corporate money and influence?

The event is being hosted by a group of grassroots organizations: Draft Bernie for a People’s Party (DB), the Progressive Independent Party (PIP), and Socialist Alternative (SA). The feature event will be the Draft Bernie Town Hall, to which leading intellectual Dr. Cornel West and Draft Bernie founder Nick Brana invited Bernie Sanders on Democracy Now! in April. The Town Hall will feature Dr. West and socialist Seattle City Councilwoman and activist Kshama Sawant.

The sponsoring organizations represent tens of thousands of working people who supported Bernie Sanders’ bid for the presidency, men and women of all ages and races brought together by a common purpose. People who gave countless hours and reached deep to donate what they could spare to his campaign. Now they are united once more in asking Sen. Sanders to have a conversation with them about the future of our movement at the Town Hall.

Accordingly, Draft Bernie for a People’s Party will deliver more than 44,000 petition signatures to Sanders’ Senate office the day before the Town Hall. Each signature represents its own invitation from an American who fought hard for his presidential campaign and would do it again for a new party. The petition calls on him to continue the revolution that he started by launching a party rooted in the progressive views of the majority of Americans. A party that can fight to win the policies he has championed for so long, like Medicare for All and free college education.

The sponsoring organizations will also host sister gatherings across the country where thousands more can view the conference and Town Hall by livestream. Sister gatherings will deliberate the direction of the progressive movement on a local level, resulting in dozens of simultaneous conversations about a people’s party across the country.

The conference will be hosted at American University and comprise three days of workshops, panels, trainings and plenaries and will bring together a mix of voices from the worlds of activism, labor, academia, independent political parties and independent media.

“This conference is an important next step in bringing together working people, youth, people of color, activists and progressive leaders to prepare the ground for a powerful challenge to both establishment parties, Republican and Democratic alike, as we move forward,” said Nick Brana (DB), Araquel Bloss (PIP), and Calvin Priest (SA) in a joint statement by the heads of the three sponsoring organizations.

Last summer, Berniecrats gathered at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, where we watched as the presidential nomination was stolen from Sanders, setting the stage for the election of Donald Trump. One year later, progressives will gather to discuss a future independent of the Democratic Party. The Party’s refusal to represent working people inspired the creation of Draft Bernie and led to the rapid growth of left organizations like PIP and SA.

The three hosting organizations support the platform of Bernie 2016, including Medicare for All, a $15 minimum wage, getting big money out of politics, an end to the mass incarceration state, racial justice, free public college tuition, manufacturing development and taxing Wall Street and the billionaire class.

Araquel Bloss is the founder and director of the Progressive Independent Party, a movement for a coalition-based party. She is also an activist and most recently was the co-creator of #OccupyInauguration.

Nick Brana is the former national political outreach coordinator for Bernie 2016 and the former electoral manager for Our Revolution. He is the founder and director of Draft Bernie for a People’s Party.

Calvin Priest is a member of Socialist Alternative’s National Executive Committee and the editor of