These are exciting days.
Exciting because the potential for pushing our country forward toward the change that we need and want is within reach. But corporate America - the banks, Wall Street and the oil companies - stand in the doorway, the enemies of any progress. Not content with record profits and tax-payer funded bailouts, these great patriots want it all and at any cost: massive unemployment, the loss of people's homes and security, increasing poverty and hunger, oil spills that despoil entire regions - none of that means anything to them as long as their bottom line continues its upward trajectory.
Exciting days - filled with promise but only if "we the people" can mobilize and organize ourselves to be the agent of change that is our potential. It is the strength of our numbers, united in demanding change, that scares the living daylights out of those who control our destinies (and our government)now.
It has become clear that the election of November 2008, as exciting and as promising as it was, has not fulfilled the expectations of the millions who turned out and, with their votes, demanded a change in the direction and priorities of our government. Only by organizing those Obama voters to continue to push and push hard, can we make good on the promise of change. As the sage said - "The people shall lead and the leaders will follow." Change will not be handed to us but will only come if we demand it and organize millions to make those demands irrefutable.
Three actions recently point to exciting new developments that move us in the direction of building that new force for change.
On April 29th the AFL-CIO brought thousands to Wall Street to demand pay back from the crew that wrecked our economy and threw eight million people out of their jobs. This was inspiring and, in case you haven't been paying attention, new! Perhaps you missed reading about it in the NY Times - Well, that's because because it wasn't covered in the "newspaper of record" at all! Here was the NYC working class on parade - angry and militant - something we haven't seen in decades and something we need much, much more of: a fighting union movement for progressive change! Strange, isn't it? Three hundred tea party nut jobs standing on a street corner gets front page coverage but 15,000 trade unionists demanding that Wall Street criminals go to jail instead of bonuses - that's ignored. Newspaper of record - yeah, right!
Richard Trumka, President of the labor federation, blasted the banks for their criminal activities and demanded that their profits be taxed to provide good jobs for those who have suffered from their reckless actions. "Good jobs now! Good jobs now!" echoed throughout the crowd as thousands took up the call.
A call for fairness and justice: Hold the banks accountable!
>>> Click any photo to see it larger
A new, bolder labor movement - just what the doctor ordered.
Just two days later on May Day, the international workers' day inspired by the 1886 Chicago Haymarket strike demanding an eight-hour day (something we sadly need to fight for again), thousands again gathered in lower Manhattan to demand human rights for immigrants and all of labor. May Day in recent years has seen millions demonstrating across our country in search of justice and fairness for immigrants who have come here seeking a better life. Sponsored by a broad coalition of labor and immigrants' organizations, speakers railed against the recently-passed law in Arizona that would use police-state tactics as a racist club to imtimidate immigrants by allowing the cops to stop anyone they might believe to be here without documents. Talk about racial profiling! Arizona, it should be remembered, was also the last state to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday so it came as no surprise that such a law would raise its ugly head in that state first.
Calls for boycott of that heavily tourist-dependent state and demands that the Federal government intervene in Arizona have been heard all across our country because the law flies in the face of traditional American notions of fairness and justice.
What the shameful Arizona law will do: rip families apart!
Brooklyn was well-represented at the May Day march.
Just the other day, on May 2nd, New Yorkers marched again. This time, they were joined by over 2,000 Japanese peace activists, including survivors of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. Thousands paraded through Times Square in a lively and colorful demonstration that called for worldwide nuclear disarmament. The marchers wanted a world that was not threatened by the stockpiles of these horrible weapons that threaten the very existence of our world and that rob humanity of resources that could be used to solve intractable problems of poverty and hunger around the globe.
The march, which was the culmination of a weekend conference at Riverside church that attracted thousands to discuss the urgent threat of nuclear weapons, coincided with the United Nations disarmament conference. The U.N. was the destination of marchers and at its conclusion there was a fantastic peace and music festival in Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, across from the U.N. headquarters.
A large and spirited Brooklyn For Peace contingent was part of the outpouring for an end to the nuclear threat.
The Japanese peace activist added a colorful and dramatic component to this No Nukes peace march.
The Japanese peace activists added a colorful and creative component to the march with wonderful banners, capes and costumes that all called for peace and an end to the nuclear threat. American and Japanese marchers mingled and chatted, getting to know each other better - what a wonderful and memorable demonstration for worldwide peace!
You can see the rest of my photos from all three actions by going here: CLICK HERE