At 31 years-old, Brooklyn resident Svart, is probably the youngest National Director in the organization’s nearly 30 year history. She succeeded Frank Llewellyn who announced earlier that year that he was stepping down after ten years.
On the afternoon of April 1, 1983, Barack Obama, then a senior at Columbia University, made his way into the Great Hall of Manhattan’s Cooper Union to attend a “Socialist Scholars Conference.” There Obama discovered his vocation as a community organizer, as well as a political program to guide him throughout his life.
The conference itself was not a secret, but it held a secret, for it was there that a demoralized and frustrated socialist movement largely set aside strategies of nationalization and turned increasingly to local organizing as a way around the Reagan presidency — and its own spotty reputation. In the early 1980s, America’s socialists discovered what Saul Alinsky had always known: “Community organizing” is a euphemism behind which advocates of a radical vision of America could advance their cause without the bothersome label “socialist” drawing adverse attention to their efforts.