Mary Cal Hollis (1952–)

Mary Cal Hollis is a liberal political activist. A native of Arkansas who now lives in Colorado, she has run for national office on both the Socialist and Green Party tickets.

Mary Cal Hollis was born on January 13, 1952, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), one of four children of Cal Hollis and Ruth Bylander Hollis. She graduated in 1970 from Pine Bluff High School. After graduation, she went on to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), where in 1974 she earned a BA in special education, followed in 1978 by a master’s degree in specific learning disabilities. In addition, she has studied multicultural special education at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

A self-described “bleeding-heart liberal,” Hollis served on the board of directors of the San Miguel Power Association in western Colorado from 1981 to 1984. The former Democrat has been a longtime activist on behalf of left-wing, peace, and environmental causes. In addition to her Socialist Party ties, she is also a longtime member of the Green Party, as well as a member of the Labor Party. Hollis has said, “We need to educate the people that ninety percent of us have a lot in common, we shouldn’t be splintered, as the ruling class makes us.” She believes that joint memberships should be encouraged, and her own wide-ranging memberships reflect her belief that “we need to give up the idea that a coalition means ‘Quit your group and join mine.’” She summarized her civic activism by noting, “I care about people and care about children. I always have. That’s my bottom line. Our government is run by lawyers and businessmen [who] have totally forgotten that.”

Hollis’s interest in socialism came from studying the works of Martin Luther King Jr.: “I started thinking about Democratic Socialism when I heard Martin Luther King, Jr. had mentioned our country needs to consider some form of socialism.” She noted, “The more I thought about that, the more I realized I have been socialist all my life.”

Hollis served on the Socialist Party USA National Committee beginning in 1994 and was the national co-chair from 1994 to 1998. She worked in the party’s New York headquarters in the fall of 1995, and the impression she made there helped secure her the party’s presidential nomination later that fall. The 1996 campaign was not a fulltime endeavor, but Hollis and her running mate, Eric Chester, were able to get on the ballot in five states and garnered more than 4,700 votes, including write-ins from an additional seven states.

Four years later, in 2000, Hollis was the vice-presidential candidate running with David McReynolds. On the ballot in seven states, that year’s ticket received a little over 5,600 votes. Hollis initially expressed interest in seeking the presidential nomination again in 2004, but she dropped out of the presidential race before the October 2003 convention and was eliminated on the early ballots in the contest for the vice-presidential designation. Ideology being far more important to Hollis than party labels, in 2004 she was on the ballot in Colorado as the Green Party’s vice-presidential candidate, running on a ticket that had Walter Brown as the presidential candidate.

Now living in Boulder, Colorado, she works as a teacher’s aide in the Boulder Valley School District’s (BVSD) Whittier International School.

For additional information:
Coleman, Alan. “Opinion: Other Candidates Overshadowed by Morphs.” Daily Beacon, October 7, 1996. Online at (accessed September 8, 2021).

Hollis, Mary Cal. “A Third American Revolution.” Synthesis/Regeneration 12 (Winter 1997). Online at (accessed September 8, 2021).

“Mary Cal Hollis.” Oregon Secretary of State. (accessed September 8, 2021).

Socialist Party USA Anniversary Journal. (accessed September 8, 2021).

“Stake a Socialist.” Progressive Populist, August 1996. Online at (accessed September 8, 2021).

William H. Pruden III
Ravenscroft School


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