You’ve probably heard by now about the One Nation Coming Together event in Washington today, which brought either “thousands” or as many as 200,000 people to the National Mall for jobs, justice and education. Regardless of the comparison to the Beck rally in August, One Nation appears to have been a success, getting labor and progressive groups fired up before the midterms.
I attended the largest rally associated with One Nation outside of DC. At LA City College, a multicultural variety of labor members and progressives gathered for a similar rally, which culminated in Get Out the Vote events throughout the city. I’m terrible at estimating, but I’d put it at 1,500 people.
Behind stages proclaiming “One” and “Demand Change,” labor leaders, activists, actors like Danny Glover, musicians like Tom Morello and politicians like Maxine Waters rallied the crowd, calling for better jobs, equal rights and social justice. A young man named Diego from the Latino Equality Alliance typified the views of the speakers. “I’m 23, undocumented, queer and unafraid,” said Diego, a student at UCLA with a 3.8 grade point average. “Can our country risk losing students like me?”
In addition to social issues like immigration and gay rights, the big topics at the One Nation LA event were jobs and foreclosures. One woman, who described herself as “one of the few” to get a loan modification from the government’s HAMP program, said she wanted to see others get the same treatment. Another woman, Deborah Beer from ACCE (basically the reconfigured remnants of ACORN), spent a year with JPMorgan Chase trying to get her own modification. She started organizing with other troubled borrowers, and she proudly announced that JPMorgan was stopping foreclosure proceedings in 23 states (the crowd seemed well aware of the foreclosure fraud issue). “That doesn’t mean the foreclosure crisis is over,” Beer cautioned, but she vowed to keep fighting.
The labor-heavy crowd (I saw members from SEIU, ULTCW, UAW, CWA, USW, AFSCME, CSEA, UFCW and AFTRA) was certainly far more progressive than the mainstream Democratic Party, although statewide campaigns in California like Jerry Brown’s and Gavin Newsom’s were there, along with representatives from Organizing for America. I saw signs that said “Recall Reagan’s tax cuts,” and a T-shirt about Race to the Top that said “It’s a Right, Not a Race.” Activists from the stage called on the President to bring home troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. My favorite sign said “TEA: Tax Executives a Lot,” Which actually spells TEAL, but I’ll give the sign holder the benefit of the doubt.
“We are here today to fight for good jobs for everyone, a secure home, justice for all people and quality education for our children,” said LaPhonza Butler, the President of the SEIU Long-Term Care Workers. And after the event, participants did just that. They trained to canvass neighborhoods and then went out in the community to get out the vote.
Danny Glover summed up the event by saying it was a chance to “continue to fight for the change we voted for in 2008.”
Some pictures below.