Nathan Kleinman

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Nathan "Nate" Kleinman
Democratic candidate for
Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district
Election date
April 24, 2012
Incumbent Allyson Schwartz
Personal details
Born (1982-05-31) May 31, 1982 (age 34)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Political party Democratic
Residence Jenkintown, Pennsylvania
Education Georgetown University
Religion Judaism
Website Nate for Congress

Nathan "Nate" Kleinman is a human rights activist and political organizer. He is an active participant in the Occupy movement and was a candidate for U.S. Congress in the 13th District of Pennsylvania for the 2012 election.[1]


Kleinman is an active participant in the Occupy, mainly through Occupy Philly,, and Occupy Wall St. He was part of the team that organized the 2012 Occupy National Gathering in Philadelphia. Kleinman was arrested in front of a Bank of America chapter in New York City on September 17, 2012, during protests marking the first anniversary of Occupy Wall St. Within the Occupy Philly community, he is active in the Philly Committee of Correspondence, Occupy Vacant Lots, and the Philly Jail Support Collective.

Kleinman is a board member of the progressive Philadelphia-based Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN).[2] He also runs the Baederwood Cultural Heritage Garden Project, an all-volunteer effort to preserve rare food plants from around the world, with a focus on historical cultivars developed in Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic region.

U.S. politics[edit]

Kleinman started as a volunteer and became a staff member in Barack Obama's presidential campaign in Pennsylvania. He was also elected and served as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania's 13th Congressional District.

In 2010, Kleinman worked as an aide to Joe Sestak during his successful primary campaign against then-Senator Arlen Specter and his unsuccessful general election campaign against Patrick J. Toomey.

He served as a legislative assistant to Pennsylvania State Representative Josh Shapiro in 2011.

From late January through April 2012, Kleinman was a candidate for U.S. Congress in Pennsylvania's 13th District, challenging incumbent Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz. Politico called him the "First Occupy Candidate." Kleinman challenged Schwartz because of her controversial votes in favor of the Patriot Act, the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and destructive "free trade" deals. He challenged the conventional wisdom that Allyson Schwartz has governed as a progressive. During the last two months of the campaign, some supporters of Kleinman and the Occupy movement camped directly in front of Congresswoman Schwartz's district office in Jenkintown, then became "Occupy Jenkintown" and moved behind her office to the Town Square, which they re-christened Benjamin Lay Plaza after the radical Quaker hunchback who once lived in a cave nearby.

In March 2012, he withdrew from the ballot and launched a write-in campaign.[3] Schwartz went on to win the Democratic unopposed.


From June 30, 2005 to July 11, 2005, Kleinman maintained a water-only fast outside the White House to raise awareness of the genocide in Darfur. On July 10 he was joined by Jay McGinley, who fasted for a further eight days.

In April 2006, Kleinman participated in the first Sudan Freedom Walk, a three-week march from the United Nations building in New York to the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. organized by Simon Deng, a former child-slave from Southern Sudan. In addition to being a featured speaker at events along the way, Kleinman also organized a large rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia (featuring Manute Bol).

In December 2006, Kleinman and Deng organized the second Sudan Freedom Walk, from NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. Deng and Kleinman also organized a march and rally with Sudan Sunrise in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 1, 2008, just prior to the 2008 Iowa caucuses.


On October 6, 2009, Kleinman began his second political fast in support of non-violent resisters to the Honduran coup regime of Roberto Micheletti. He joined an international group of fasters coordinated by the National Resistance Front Against the Coup d'État in Honduras. After two weeks of fasting, Kleinman - and the other hunger strikers - suspended their fast following a change in strategy.

Kleinman had aimed to fast one day for each of those killed by the coup regime, using the latest count at the time from the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (or COFADEH).[4][5][6]

Kleinman became involved in Honduras after visiting the country with a human rights delegation organized by Witness for Peace in September 2009. The delegation met with some of the most public resisters to the military coup regime including COFADEH founder Bertha Oliva de Nativí, Via Campesina leader Rafael Alegría, and Father José Andrés Tamayo Cortez (who was in hiding at the time).


Kleinman got involved with APPO and the peaceful struggle for justice and equality in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, while visiting Oaxaca City and Huautla de Jimenez in early 2007. Kleinman spent many weeks among the indigenous Mazatec communities across the Sierra Mazateca, using Huautla as a base. He met with teachers, students, laborers, activists, union members, and local officials, while attempting to study Mazatec culture and history for a yet-unwritten master's thesis.

Kleinman's essay "Something Beautiful in Remote Oaxaca: Real Democracy" is the only English-language account of the election of former political prisoner (Agustin Sosa Ortega) as mayor of Huautla de Jimenez. When Kleinman interviewed Sosa Ortega in 2007, the Mazatec organizer was on the run from authorities, hiding in a school guarded by young men wielding molotov-cocktails. Kleinman's account is one of the only in any language of the APPO-affiliated struggle for human rights in the Sierra Mazateca.

Academic background[edit]

He is a graduate of Abington Friends School in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania (2000), and Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, with a B.S.F.S. degree in culture and politics (2004). He also studied archaeology and Native American history at Leiden University in the Netherlands from 2006 to 2007.


  1. ^ "Nate for". Nate for Congress. Retrieved 2012-07-04. 
  2. ^ Nathan Kleinman bio, Jewish Social Policy Action Network
  3. ^ Keegan Gibson (March 6, 2014). "‘Occupy’ Candidate Kleinman Strategy: Withdraw from PA-13 Ballot". PoliticsPA. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ Kovalik, Dan (2009-07-23). "The Urgency of Restoring Democracy to Honduras -- and What You Can Do to Help". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  5. ^ "Historia". Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras. 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2009-07-30. 
  6. ^ COFADEH, (Spanish) Quienes Somos, accessed 26 July 2009

External links[edit]