Stephen Durham (born 1947) is an American activist based in New York City, and the Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 general election. The socialist feminist FSP, a Trotskyist party, is running a write-in campaign that also includes Christina López, a Chicana feminist, for vice-president.
Durham was born in North Carolina and grew up in Southern California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley during the 1960s, where he took part in protests of the Vietnam War and joined actions to gain Third World Studies. He was an early member of the gay rights movement and attended the first national lesbian and gay gathering, the West Coast Gay Liberation Conference, which took place in 1969 in Berkeley.
Durham joined the Freedom Socialist Party and, in 1976, founded the Los Angeles branch of the organization. In 1984, he relocated to New York City, where he has served as the party organizer for many years.
Durham worked as a union waiter in California and New York City. He mobilized with his female, of color and immigrant co-workers, during the 1985 New York City Hotel Trades Council strike by 16,000 workers. In this he was aided by his fluency in Spanish and Portuguese, which he gained in high school and retained through frequent travels to Latin America and the Caribbean where he has connected with other feminists and socialists.
Durham’s first electoral effort for the FSP was in 1998, running for New York State Assembly the 71st District, a predominantly Latino and African American community.
Campaign materials for the FSP claim that the party is “taking the unconventional route of a write-in campaign because corporate funding of the two major parties and restrictive ballot access laws stack the deck against minor parties.” According to Durham, “The FSP ticket is a chance for people to vote not only against something, but for something. The campaign is thrilled to be giving people a way to send a strong protest message, find new kindred souls, and strengthen organizing efforts for a future all workers deserve.”
In California in 2012, Durham ran for the presidential nomination of the Peace & Freedom Party, a left-wing electoral ballot coalition. After a struggle against the Secretary of State's unilateral refusal to add Durham and Peta Lindsay, candidate for the Party for Socialism and Liberation, to the ballot, Durham was added to the list of primary candidates.