Americans for Democratic Action

Southeastern PA Chapter


Americans for Democratic Action, Southeastern PA Chapter has a long record of progressive action. Formed in March 1947 by 100 Philadelphia area civic leaders, the chapter joined the newly formed national ADA which was founded by Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Reuther, and John Kenneth Galbraith to perpetuate and expand the legacy of the New Deal. The national Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) organization is now one of the oldest liberal political organization in the country. Our own PA State Senator Art Haywood is the National President for ADA.

From the drafting and adoption of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter in 1951 to the movement to recall Mayor Frank Rizzo, the history of Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of ADA is the history of progressive politics in the Philadelphia region. We continue as a leading local watchdog for Progressive Values, Good Government, and the Advancement of Democracy.


From its national base in Washington, DC, ADA lobbies and works for liberal ideals and liberal candidates, and such progressive issues as universal healthcare, a woman’s right to choose, arms control and disarmament, civil liberties and civil rights, sensible gun control, public education, an end to hate crimes and discrimination, and good government.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of ADA, based in Philadelphia, works to unite for common counsel and action progressive forces in the Philadelphia metropolitan area who are concerned with the preservation and extension of democracy. We dedicate ourselves, as an organization of progressives, to the achievement of freedom and economic security for all peoples everywhere through education and advocacy. We strive to be a watchdog for Good Government and Sustainable Planning.

A Selection of Historical Actions by ADA SEPA

  • At the 1948 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter persuaded a hesitant Hubert Humphrey to introduce a civil rights plank into the Democratic platform, which was approved by the convention and spurred then President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the armed forces and open federal employment to African Americans.

  • Organizing for Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter

  • Supporting reform candidates for row offices

  • Intensive, well organized, highly publicized attempt to recall Mayor Rizzo that went as far as the PA Supreme Court

  • Mobilizing for a “Clean Sweep” slate of candidates that helped elect Mayor William J. Green and others

  • Managing the election of a slate of reform judges

  • Organizing numerous public forums on topics such as charter school accountability; discussion with Philadelphia’s school district superintendent; presentation of platforms by all but one of the 2015 mayoral candidates; discussion of the effects of Voter ID legislation and regulation by distinguished panel; platform presentations by 2015 progressive PA Supreme Court candidates

  • During the 2016 Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, holding a commemoration of the 1948 Democratic civil rights platform at the African American Museum. The program featured former National ADA President, Rep. John Lewis and included Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota (first Muslim elected to Congress) and Kareem Abdul Jabbar (representing Hillary Clinton)

  • Advocacy on behalf of merit selection for judicial nominees

  • Testimony at Philadelphia’s City Council

  • Endorsement of candidates at the city, county, and state level

  • Review of qualifications and endorsement of judicial candidates


Our chapter’s mission is to promote good government, progressive values, and the advancement of democracy while advocating for social and economic justice. We do this by evaluating and endorsing candidates for public and elected office and hosting educational programs for the general public. We have also made a commitment as a Board to focus on racial equity in everything we do. For the 2021 Primary election, we intend to focus on in depth evaluations & endorsements of judicial candidates for all levels of Pennsylvania Courts. Over the last year, we have co-hosted Town Halls on topics such as Public Banking and Reparations. In 2022, we are looking forward to celebrating our 75th Anniversary!