A Wisconsin delegation representing unions and civil rights organizations joined tens of thousands of progressive activists from across the country on the Lincoln Memorial October 2 to take part in the “One Nation Working Together” March on Washington.
“One Nation Working Together” is a social movement of individuals and organizations committed to putting America back together. The gathering represented the multi-cultural quilt of ethnicities, experiences, beliefs and orientations all coming together to be “One Nation” determined to build a more united country with good jobs, equal justice, and quality public education for all. The rally was also organized in hopes of counteracting the growing popularity of the Tea Party.
The troubled economy and job market had personally affected many at the march and rally. Black Americans have a far higher unemployment rate than other ethnic groups according to the U.S. Labor Department and the gap is widening.
The Wisconsin delegation included Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha NAACP and the SEIU sponsored 4 buses which included representatives from NAACP, SEIU, Casa Maria, Repairs of the Breach, ALF/CIO, MICAH, MTEA, Mothers of the Struggle, Ambassadors for Peace, and others left on Friday to attend the One Nation experience.
Wendell J Harris, first vice president of the Milwaukee Branch NAACP and lead coordinator of the “Wisconsin One Nation delegation, which sponsored 15 young adults and children, said: “The NAACP recognizes the importance of giving young people the opportunity to experience how the (political) process works; (how to) petition their government at this historic event. We are committed to grooming our future leaders.”
Buses and carpools arrived from all over the nation, from California to Pennsylvania. The crowd included babies in strollers, seniors in wheel chairs, African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics and Asians. The 200,000-plus attending the rally represented agenda’s from civil rights to the environment. Over 100 groups participated in the march.
The four-hour rally had speeches, poetry, musical performances and readings of historical speeches. It highlighted the importance of keeping the same enthusiasm about voting in November as in the previous 2008 election when Obama was elected the nation’s first African American president. “Do It Again In 2010” is the slogan of the National NAACP/GOTV efforts.
The main speakers included NAACP President Benjamin Jealous, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, singer and activist Harry Belafonte and activist leaders such as Richard Trumka.
“The water is high for many communities around this country. But you don’t drown from high water, you drown when you stop kicking,” Jealous said to the spirited crowd. “What we’re saying to people is you’ve got to keep on kicking. You’ve got to stay focused. We’ve come too far to turn back now. The way we keep on moving is to stay engaged,” he said.
“We need America to deal with the issue of jobs,” said Rev. Sharpton as he roused the crowd with his passion and fire, receiving perhaps the loudest cheers of the afternoon. “We bailed out the banks. We bailed out the insurance companies. And now it is time to bail out the American people!”