One Nation Working Together March October 2, 2010
My Stream of Consciousness
Saturday morning: I started my day in high spirits, taking the Metro into Washington from New Carrollton. Getting on the train I met a foursome, two couples heading to the march. One of the men had his elect Barack Obama tee shirt. We traded stories and chuckles until the train pulled into the old RFK Stadium where a big, boisterous crowd squeezed on board. Hundreds of buses were parked at the stadium lot. Marchers jammed into the subway cars – members of unions, members of the NAACP, many from New York, New Jersey, Phily, Pittsburg and Boston.
Hundreds walked together – a sea of signs – Jobs, Education, Communication Workers of America, Don’t Rob My Social Security; Hope Not Hate; Don’t Outsource my Job. There were drummers and a real live bag-piper.
The crowd was extremely good natured; it was easy to make friends, to exchange backgrounds; we were all here for the same reason. Many I talked to wanted to be counted – to show the nation that America has far more to offer than the Tea Party/GOP negative agenda, an agenda masquerading as populist but designed to benefit the wealthy elite and to dismantle government’s ability to govern on behalf of the public well being. One gent from Wisconsin told me, “Thank, God, Thank God, we’re here at last.”
Yet the mood was far from angry. What I saw was a lot of dedication and concern, but also a lot of smiles — people wanted to share. I spoke to Stella Adams from Durham, NC, who gave me a quick education on the Community Reinvestment Act — a bill in Congress that would provide jobs and strengthen communities by spurring banks to invest in communities and small businesses. I spoke to a couple that were advocates for the children of undocumented workers born in this country.
The march brought back memories of other marches, including the March for Jobs and Freedom of August 1963 led by Rev. Martin Luther King. I went there with my brothers Fred and Steve and with my father, Archie Cole, a leader with the IUE-AFL-CIO. I’m sure he was there in spirit, but I missed him badly – his unflagging determination and his ability to find humor and chutzpah in any situation.
Less than two years ago we were celebrating –right here on the Mall – the election and inauguration of Barack Obama as President, a man who promised change and hope. We threw our hearts into it, going door-to-door, working the phones, holding fund raisers, voting in mass. The Democrats swept to power in both houses of Congress – we sensed an enormous opportunity to renew our nation’s commitment to economic, social and environmental justice after 8 long years of the Bush and Cheney. Yes, Mr. Obama missed opportunities, but I remind myself that he inherited monumental crises and no shortage of potent detractors.
How quickly the tide has changed. We now face a strong current from the right – one that smacks of an angry intolerance that not only undermines our tradition of decency but of our democracy. Prime-time TV, radio talk, blogs comments –big lies, name calling, scape-goating. Google it – Glenn Beck with his blackboard: Nazis = Communists = Progressives. You can see Mr. O’Reilly taking not so subtle shots at Blacks – things these guys wouldn’t have dared to utter publicly a few years ago.
Marching together: It’s good to know what we’re up against. But it’s also good to know that we’re marching together and speaking out for the justice, equality, freedom, and common good — the foundations of our nation. And it’s also heartening to know that though we march for a variety of causes, we do march together.