EMBCA presented a moving tribute to Dan Georgakas on April 10


NEW YORK – The Eastern Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance (EMBCA) presented the online panel discussion The Life and Times of Dan Georgakas on April 10. Author, anarchist, activist, poet, historian, editor, professor, film scholar and longtime National Herald contributor Georgakas died on November 23, 2021, leaving behind a unique legacy that panelists explored in their presentations and reminiscences of the great man who was their beloved colleague and friend.

The event turned out to be a heartfelt and moving tribute to Georgakas, reminding everyone of the impressive contributions not only to the Greek-American community but to the world. His work remains an integral part of various fields of study and his influence continues as he continues to inspire scholars, authors and activists around the world.


EMBCA President Lou Katsos delivered welcome remarks, introduced the panelists and acted as event moderator. The distinguished panel included Professor Alexander Kitroeff of Haverford College; author, historian and activist Herb Boyd, professor of the Black Studies Program at City College of New York, CUNY; author and poet Nicholas Alexiou, professor of sociology and director of the Hellenic American Project at Queens College; Professor Marvin Surkin, a New York University graduate and specialist in comparative urban politics and social change; Professor Miltiadis Marinakis of Modern Greek Language and Culture at The Ohio State University Georgios Anagnostou, and historian, educator, and author Constantine Hatzidimitriou.

Katsos noted that Georgakas “specialized in oral history and the American labor movement” and was “best known to some for the publication Detroit: I Do Mind Dying: A Study in Urban Revolution (1975), which documents the radical African-American groups in Detroit in the 1960s and 1970s.”

EMBCA presented the online discussion on the life and times of the late Dan Georgakas on April 10. Photo: TNH Staff

“In 1966, he and painter Ben Morea helped found the well-known anarchist group Up Against the Wall MF affiliated with New York’s Lower East Side,” Katsos continued, adding that “in the late 1980s, Dan began co-authoring the Encyclopedia of the American Left (1990, 1998) with Mari Jo Buhle and her husband Paul Buhle.Dan served for a long time on the editorial board of Cineaste magazine and specialized in Latin American cinema.

“My Detroit: Growing Up Greek and American in Motor City, was a loving but critical memoir of Detroit in the 1950s-60s when it had the highest level of any American metropolis,” Katsos said. “My Detroit proceeds from the industrial east side to explore the complex racial, artistic, economic and political life of Detroit – a subjective companion to his Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, a historical account of the city’s turbulent 1960s.”

Katsos noted that “on the 100th anniversary of the Smyrna fire, his mother and aunt were among the children who were rescued by the Japanese ship the Tokei Maru (something he discovered decades later) during the fire of Smyrna in 1922”.

Professor Alexiou spoke about his friend and colleague and how Georgakas’ impressive archive of over 500 papers at HAP is being digitized and will be circulated to continue the remarkable work on Greek-American studies he has promoted. Alexiou noted that it would take a week-long conference to cover everything Georgakas has done.

EMBCA presented the online discussion on the life and times of the late Dan Georgakas on April 10. Photo: TNH Staff

Professor Boyd spoke about his collaboration with Georgakas most recently on the update of the Encyclopedia of the American Left, with Paul and Mari Jo Buhle, which is nearing completion. “I miss him as a companion, as a co-author, as an editor, as a scholar, as a revolutionary,” Boyd said. “I miss him as a Detroiter who had a firm grip on Detroit history.”

“For me, Dan was an inspiration,” Boyd continued. “For me he stands as a beacon, a sentinel, to understand where we have come to as a revolutionary movement, where we are, and certainly suggest where we should be heading, because in a great way Dan was a visionary, a remarkable human being, they used to say that people were a credit to their race, well, he was a credit to the human race, that’s where he is with me, that’s where he will always stand and I will always want and welcome the opportunities to speak about his life and his legacy, we can’t do it enough.

Professor Surkin noted that he and Georgakas were both born in 1938 and shared a similar working-class immigrant family, he in Philadelphia and Georgakas in Detroit. He spoke about co-writing Detroit: I Do Mind Dying with Georgakas, describing him as honourable, loyal, radical. “He was committed and he was an intellectual who believed in action,” Surkin said. “He believed in people, he loved all things Greek…he loved America and he believed deeply in radical change, in the potential of people to really make a difference.”

Constantin Hatzidimitriou said that as he prepared for the event, he “looked through his Dan Georgakas file” and had tears in his eyes as he went through it because for decades Georgakas was his “biggest supporter… behind the scenes of all aspects of Greek Studies.” He mentioned how Georgakas, Steve Frangos and himself had not been part of the establishment for many years, but through Dan’s efforts, Greek Studies Americans have made great progress.

Kitroeff noted the debate Georgakas had with sociologist Charles Moskos whose Greek-American model of “struggle and success” had “no room for the left because success meant everyone had entered the middle class, which, of course, was not the case. and Dan was the person who interacted with Moskos and helped us understand the history and legacy of the left in Greek America, but what was remarkable about the exchange they had was that it It was a heated exchange but it was not controversial.

Anagnostou read a letter he sent to the late Georgakas, noting “how much the immigrant past meant to you,” emphasizing Georgakas’ commitment to documentation and his determination “to speak historical truths even if these truths were taboo and made some members of the community uncomfortable. .”

Katsos thanked everyone for participating and noted that EMBCA’s next event on May 3 will be in person. More information is available online: https://embca.com.

The video of the event is available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/895WISF4pHA.


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