Passion and principles: Introducing FSP candidates Stephen Durham and Christina López.

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Stephen Durham brings abundant experience and a generous heart to the electoral arena. Dedicated to changing conditions at their root, he is a lifelong radical in the best sense of the word.

In the 1970s and ’80s Durham, now 64, was the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) organizer in Los Angeles; he has since guided the New York City branch.

From the party’s storefront in Central Harlem, it’s a short subway ride to the international heart of capitalism. Durham has ridden that train many a time to confront the corrupt financial elite — in recent months, often to march with Occupy Wall Street and conduct teach-ins on economics.

Durham was radicalized as a student and campus worker at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), where he participated in the movement against the Vietnam War and became a conscientious objector. He also stood shoulder to shoulder with students of color in the historic battle for Third World Studies at UCB.

As a pioneering queer activist, he took part in the first national lesbian and gay conference in 1969. A consistent advocate of women’s rights and supporter of female leadership, Durham fights to keep feminist issues up front in all the movements.

Durham became a union militant while working as a waiter in California and then New York City. He provided rank-and-file leadership in the 1985 NYC Hotel Trades Council strike by 16,000 workers, predominantly people of color, women, and immigrants.

Durham’s long involvement in Latin America began during high school as an exchange student to Brazil during the military dictatorship. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, he has traveled in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean, building bonds and joint work with other leftists and revolutionaries.

Running for New York State Assembly in 1998, Durham campaigned door to door in the largely Latino and African American 71st District. His campaign was endorsed by Puerto Rican activist Father Luis Barrios, longtime Harlem radical Yuri Kochiyama, former state Assemblywoman Marie Runyon, and Haitian immigrant rights advocate Ray LaForest, among others.

A thinker as well as a doer, Durham has written on topics from the AIDS crisis to the Cuban Revolution, from freeing Lynne Stewart to the environmental disaster of hydraulic fracking.

Now Durham brings his global perspective and decades of valuable political experience to a working-class campaign for president.

Christina López is a dynamic, eloquent Chicana from the barrio in Phoenix, whose working-class family has roots in the Southwest that predate U.S. borders.

She has been an organizer since her youth. As a member of the Chicano student group MEChA, she worked against a racist English-only law in Arizona.

After moving to Seattle, López was drawn to the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) by its emphasis on fighting for racial liberation as an essential component of building class solidarity. She has spread this message and challenged racism through extensive work defending immigrant rights, affirmative action, and freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Her deep involvement in the immigrant rights upsurge of 2006 and 2007 included opposing the profoundly flawed “guest worker” bill. She has spearheaded protests against police brutality and worked with Somali women to protest FBI raids.

In jobs ranging from production at Revlon Cosmetics to county court clerk and library associate, López has been a member of several unions including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

Recently her activism in the Occupy movement has extended from Philadelphia to Seattle, where she helped pass a “cop-free zone” resolution at the general assembly.

Today, at 43, López is Seattle Radical Women (RW) president. She has been key to building RW’s Sisters Organize for Survival campaign, which has fought state budget cuts and layoffs of public workers for the past three years. Radical Women is affiliated with FSP on the basis of a shared socialist feminist program.

López battles for reproductive rights as a passionate feminist of color and led RW’s collaboration with Black feminists in Jackson, Miss., to defend the last abortion clinic in the state. She has pinpointed the special impact of war on women and children and the need for the anti-war movement to prioritize this issue.

She is the author of the forthcoming RW position paper “Estamos en la Lucha: Immigrant Women Light the Fires of Resistance,” which focuses on the impact of U.S. immigration policies on women and children and highlights the central role of immigrant women in this country and internationally.

Her passion for racial justice helps her guide the National Comrades of Color Caucus, a joint caucus of the FSP and RW.

As candidate for vice president, López will be a fierce partisan of the downtrodden.

Related article: FSP’s answer to a rigged political system

Also see: 2012, a year for revolt: A selective calendar of events

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