Over 150,000 participate in One Nation Working Together March

A view of the crowd at Saturday’s rally in Washington, D. C.
Special to the Democrat by
John Zippert, Co-Publisher

At the height of Saturday’s One Nation Working Together March there were over 150,000 participants stretching from the Lincoln Memorial speakers platform, along side the reflecting pool to the base of the Washington Monument. People came from every state in the nation to march for jobs, justice and education.
The march, sponsored by the NAACP, labor unions, Hispanic organizations, sororities and fraternities, antiwar groups and over 400 organizations, was in part a progressive counter to Glenn Beck’s “Honor America Rally” in late August and in part a get-out-the-vote rally to energize the base of the Democratic Party in preparation for the November 2 general election.
In many ways the signs people carried told the story of the march. Among the signs were: Healthcare not Warfare, Jobs not War, We March for Hope not Hate, Organize to Build Power and Win Justice, Medicare for All, Justice for Black Farmers, Stop Robbing the Middle Class to Help the Rich, End Corporate Welfare, Fox News – Unfair and Biased, Any Worker against the President – You’re Colorblind, and No Tea for Me.
The speakers at the four hour rally included civil rights leaders like Ben Jealous of the NAACP, Marc Morial of the National Urban League, Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow Coalition and Rev. Al Sharpton; Labor leaders like Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, Randi Weingarten head of the United Federation of Teachers, and Dennis Van Roekel, head of the National Education Association.
Other speakers included: actor Wendell Pierce of New Orleans, actress Victoria Rowell, Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund, Janet Mugaria of the National Council of LaRaza, Vann Jones, former White House environmental official and many lesser known speakers including many young people representing student and youth concerns.
In his talk, Pierce asked, “Why are there 40 million poor people in America. We need a broader distribution of wealth in this country. We need a divine dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Let us be dissatisfied until there is adequate housing and education for all.”
Vann Jones urged that, “we as a nation must find real solutions to the problems facing America. We must look up and see the sun and the wind as ways to re-power America. We have never had a ‘wind slick’ or a ‘sun spill’ in our nation. We must learn to grow energy crops and put up wind turbines.”
Rev. Sharpton said, “We need jobs! We need to bail out the American people. This rally shows what America really looks like. We need to get ready to take our ‘mid-term exams’ in November and be sure to vote for candidates who share our spirit and beliefs.”
Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO said, “ We are not a nation of haters. We are one nation that needs to work together. We need more good jobs that can help people to support their families. We believe in America and America needs to believe and invest in us.”
Harry Belafonte, actor, singer and humanitarian, decried the wars we are waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said, “The wars we wage are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable. The $30 Billion a year that we are spending in Afghanistan could create 600,000 jobs here at home to build houses, rebuild infrastructure and educate our children. Dr. King’s dream is not dead – go out and vote on November 2 to keep it alive.”
Marion Wright Edelman said that we should learn lessons from Noah’s Ark to deal with our current situation. She said, “ Don’t miss the boat, we are all in the same boat now, plan ahead, don’t listen to naysayers, work with others and realize that the Ark was built by amateurs – ordinary concerned citizens – while the Titanic was built by experts.”
Ben Jealous of the NAACP said, “Jobs, justice and education must remain at the top of our agenda for the future. It is not enough to come to this march – we must keep on marching in our communities to the ballot box on November 2nd.”
All of the speakers made similar appeals during the rally stressing the importance of the demands for jobs, justice and education and the importance or voting in November for progressive candidates who will keep working on these issues. The rally ended at 4:30 with many speakers waiting to talk but no time left on the National Park Service permit to use the hallowed Washington spaces.