Spotlight on a founding member: Howie Hawkins

Spotlight on a founding member: Howie Hawkins

By Deyva Arthur, Green Party of New York State

Howie Hawkins. Photo by Deyva Arthur
Howie Hawkins. Photo by Deyva Arthur

Becoming politically active as a young radical at the age of 15, it is no surprise Howie Hawkins was there for the birth of the Green Party in the United States. In 1984 Hawkins participated in the first gathering of Greens in St. Paul, Minnesota. Having been act­ively involved in other independent political parties that were predecessors of the Green Party, Hawkins sought to shift the emphasis from national campaigns for president, to building the party from the bottom up with local candidates.

Although Hawkins was a Marine, he vehemently protested the Vietnam War and after attending Dartmouth College was active in efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. At that time while working in construction, he also organized a workers cooperative specializing in solar and energy efficiency projects. Then in 1976 Hawkins co-founded the anti-nuclear organization, the Clamshell Alli­ance. Since he was a teenager he had been working to end poverty, racism and environmental degradation, and when there was no organization to funnel his efforts, Hawkins created a group structure that would often become the bedrock of that movement in the U.S.

Too young even to vote, Hawkins helped get the Peace and Freedom Party on the ballot in 1967. A firm believer of independent politics, he was an organizer for the People’s Party, the Citizens Party, as well as, the Socialist and Labor parties. Looking to take a more grassroots approach to politics, Hawkins helped to give structure in the formation of the Green Party in the United States. Since its inception 30 years ago, he has played an active role in the Green Party’s internal organization. Hawkins currently is a member of the state committee in New York.

A long-time resident of Syracuse, New York, Hawkins has been an employee unloading trucks for United Parcel Serv­ice for years and is an active member of his local Teamsters union. Outside of that, he has published his political, economic and environmental views in numerous magazines including Coun­terpunch and Z Magazine, and has a book, Independent Politics: The Green Party Strategy Debate with Haymarket Books about the Green debate on independent politics and presidential politics in 2004.

Having volunteered on numerous campaigns since the 1960s including playing a central role in Ralph Nader’s two campaigns for president, Hawkins also ran for office 20 times on the Green Party ticket. In addition to numerous campaigns for Syracuse city seats, Haw­kins also ran against Hilary Clinton for U.S. senate in 2006. In that campaign he was vocal against the war in Iraq and proposed a clean energy transition for the country. In 2010 he was able to gain ballot status for New York by garnishing nearly 60,000 votes for Gover­nor. His emphasis in that campaign was “Tax Wall Street. Invest in Main Street.” Haw­kins is once again touring the state in his second bid for governor, following Jill Stein’s “Green New Deal” ap­proach.

More information: www.howiehawkins.org

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