Eugene Victor Debs (November 5, 1855 – October 20, 1926) was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies), and five times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States. Through his presidential candidacies, as well as his work with labor movements, Debs eventually became one of the best-known socialists living in the United States.
Debs was noted for his oratory, and his speech denouncing American participation in World War I led to his second arrest in 1918. He was convicted under the Sedition Act of 1918 and sentenced to a term of 10 years. President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence in December 1921. Debs died in 1926, not long after being admitted to a sanatorium due to cardiovascular problems that developed during his time in prison. He has since been cited as the inspiration for numerous politicians.
San Diego State University professor and artist-in-residence Yale Strom has directed a new documentary, American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs. The documentary has photos of Debs orating in San Diego and leaders of the Wobblies (Industrial Workers of the World) speaking for free speech at a rally. Debs had been a founder of the Wobblies, whose brutal treatment by the San Diego establishment in the early 20th Century is one of the disgraces of the city’s history.
Yale Strom’s film American Socialist: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor opens in San Diego at Digital Gym (www.digitalgym.org) May 11-16.The film is narrated by Amy Madigan and features Jeremy Kittel, Fred Benedetti, Jeff Pekarek, Walt Richarda and the Hausmann Quartet on the soundtrack. Elizabeth Schwartz (ex. prod. co-writer) and Yale will attend many of the screenings for Q & A afterwards.
Tuesday, May 15: 3:00
Wednesday, May 16: 7:00