McAllister Coleman was a successful basketball player before becoming a sports reporter for the New York Sun. He joined the Socialist Party of America and attempted to convert the important columnist, Heywood Broun, to socialism. He initially rejected the idea: "I like the brotherhood-of-man angle... If I ever get convinced that Socialism will work and really usher in brotherhood I'll probably join up. But Marx was an atheist. I'm a believer. At that, I may be some kind of Christian Socialist."
In August 1933, Coleman joined forces with Heywood Broun, Lewis Gannett, George Britt, Joseph Cookman, Doris Fleeson, Edward J. Angly, Allen Raymond, Frederick Woltman and Carl Randau to establish the American Newspaper Guild in an attempt to improve the wages of journalists. During this period many reporters were only paid $15 a week.
Early in his newspaper career he had become friendly with McAllister Coleman of the Sun, who was a member of the Socialist Party and tried to convert Broun. They had stayed friends through the years, but Broun always put off formally dedicating himself to the cause. He admitted to being strongly influenced by George Bernard Shaw, of the Fabian branch of Socialism, whose plays and pamphlets he constantly reread. He believed Socialism was the creed most likely to usher in the brotherhood of man, but like any civilized fellow, he was dismayed by the oppressions dictated by the Marxist-Leninist¬Stalinist variation in Soviet Russia.
The stepladder shook and swayed as Heywood Broun crawled to the top. He was wearing a dinner jacket, but with a soft shirt because a stiff front would quickly have wadded up from sweat. Four Yipsils stood staunchly at their posts, steadying the ladder. Yipsils were members of the Young People's Socialist League. They were extraordinarily fond of their new comrade, especially for his habit of going to meetings in a spacious limousine hired at the Racquet Club. Returning to the car afterward, he would find it stuffed with Yipsils, as if ready for a hayride.
A good crowd was on hand, drawn by placards put up by the Yipsils. A sizable complement of police was present, too, as customary when Broun spoke.
Slender, bespactacled McAllister Coleman, at the foot of the ladder, waved his arms and shouted up to Broun, "No, no, no!" as Broun's big flask glistened in the light from the street lamps as he slid it from his pocket. But it did no good. Broun raised the flask to his lips. The Socialist position was against this sort of thing.
But the crowd roared its approval. Broun put the flask away. "I talk wet," he said, "and I drink wet."
Hecklers opened up. "Sun dodger," shouted one. That was a reference to the charge that he never came out of doors in the daylight. Another yelled, "Relief for the bartenders!" Broun held up his hands for silence as the cops moved about. After a little he was allowed to speak.
"Friends," he began, "most of you know I'm running for Congress on the Socialist ticket. It has been said that I'm just a columnist out for a lark. Don't you believe that. I'm in dead earnest."
The Yipsils cheered, some of the other listeners applauded, and others booed. The Communists, especially, made a point of sending representatives to heckle "this petty bourgeois clown."
"Why do I seek the office?" Broun went on. "Those who were on the soup line tonight know. So do those of you who pounded the pavements all day looking for work. And also do those who go to their job in fear and trembling that each day will be the last. We Socialists have a program. Indeed, the only program."
More cheers, more boos.
"The Republican incumbent, Mrs. Ruth Pratt," Broun went on in a courteous voice, "is reactionary and lacks initiative. My Democratic opponent, judge Brodsky, is an old-line "hammanyite. They tell me that the Democrats, especially Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, are endeavoring to steal our thunder. They may do that. They may steal our thunder. But, friends" - he raised an arm and his shirt billowed over his trouser front, but his voice rang eloquently - "they dare not steal our lightning!"