Oct. 2 'One Nation' rally calls for jobs


 WASHINGTON--An estimated 170,000 protesters rallied at the Lincoln Memorial Oct. 2 to cheer calls for jobs, union rights and a massive vote against corporate greed and hate in the Nov. 2 midterm elections.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka touched off a roaring ovation as he told the vast multi-racial crowd, "You look like one beautiful nation. There is nothing we can't do when we stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder."

He debunked the image of a "nation full of hate" projected by Fox News, the Tea Partiers and Glenn Beck who staged a virtually all-white hate rally here August 28.

In striking contrast, the crowd at the One Nation Working Together rally was a rainbow of black, brown, and white. Tens of thousands of Black, Latino and white union members wore their brightly colored T shirts, jackets and caps and held up a sea of placards proclaiming, "Hope not Hate" "Healthcare not Warfare" and "Money for Jobs, Not tax Giveaways for the Rich. One woman held a placard with the image of President Obama and the message, "Respect My President."

The NAACP also brought tens of thousands of its members wearing goldenrod yellow T shirts on a vast flotilla of chartered buses from cities and towns across the nation.

Trumka said One Nation Working Together stands against the "greed, the monied powers that put us in the economic mess we are in." Workers, he said are demanding good jobs and the right to organize a union, with wages high enough to support a family, send children to college, and retire in dignity.

NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous alluded to the long decades of struggle symbolized by the Lincoln Memorial. "We've come too far to turn back now," he said.

"We've got to go home and ask our friends and ask our neighbors to vote. Get up off the couch and get out and vote November 2."

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund, blasted elected officials who want to dole out "massive tax giveaways to the rich when fifty percent of our children are living in poverty."

Lessons can be learned from the Biblical story of Noah's Ark, she said: "Don't miss the boat" and "We're all in the same boat" and "Noah's Ark was built by amateurs. The Titanic was built by professionals." She offered a prayer for reversal of the nation's misguided priorities so that children are not "put in small, leaky boats."

Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen stood beside Barbara Elliott, an African American woman who organized CWA Local 1102 at the Xerox Corporation in New York. The workers won despite a long battle by Xerox to overturn the election result. "In the past 47 years, workers' rights have been all but crushed," Cohen said. "Today, only one in 15 workers have bargaining rights. The U.S. is at the bottom of the global economy in protecting the rights of workers to organize and negotiate."

He added, "We know that a minority in the U.S. Senate has prevented even discussion of 400 bills passed by the House of Representatives including the Employee Free Choice Act."

He continued, "We will build one nation together. We can make progressive change on November 2. We can work for democracy in the U.S. Senate."

Actor-singer Harry Belafonte remembered Dr. King's 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial as well as his 1967 Riverside Church speech in New York City against the Vietnam war. He pointed out that Al Queda has as few as 50 members. "Do we really believe that sending 100,000 troops to kill innocent men and women in Afghanistan and Pakistan makes any sense?" he asked. Bring the troops home and use the trillions of tax dollars to rebuild schools, hospitals and affordable housing, he said.

Lincoln abolished slavery, Belafonte added, "but the crippling poison of racism still persists." He warned of the "undermining of the Constitution and the systematic attack on our most inalienable rights" adding, "At the heart of this danger is the Tea Party which is coming close to achieving its villainous ends. On November 2, in the millions, we must overburden our voting booths" voting to defeat those who seek to "impose atotalitarian state," on the nation.

Ellie Flores, a 22 year-old from Los Angeles, warmed the crowd up with: "Where are my young people: where are the young in spirit?" He went on to call for greater government investment in people. "Our government needs to invest in its people again. If I am eating but my brother is star, then I am starving too," he said. "An injustice somewhere is an injustice everywhere."

"I'm here to fight for jobs" said Shirley Jones as the rally drew to close. A UAW member, Jones, came to the rally from Coop City in the Bronx, N.Y.

Sam Webb, CPUSA national chair, said, "There's never been anything quite like this march. The great thing is that it happened, who was there, who spoke, the spirit and politics."

Photo: PW/Tim Wheeler


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  • I agree with Emile Schepers that it would've been good to have folks with flyers/leaflets, etc in the area moving towards the rally point. I saw others that seemed to have thought of this and did it.

    There were people on the south side of the Mall distributing leaflets, selling newspapers and even t-shirts and bumper stickers. Police, including park police, were there and did nothing to stop them.

    I didn't see anyone distributing CPUSA material on that side.

    Posted by José A. Cruz, 10/04/2010 7:49pm (5 years ago)

  • Traveling between Illinois and Missouri,crossing the mighty Mississippi,years ago,Ismael Flory,told me in no uncertain terms that revolution is "detailed".
    Reading accounts by a number of friends about this event,here,of 2 Oct-One Nation Together-somehow it seems that we all could have been more detailed about our approach and execution of our presence there,as communists,working in unity,for the good of learning and teaching with other workers there.
    With so many youngsters on hand there and in our bus,we did make a good,but could have made a better,impression and contribution,working as one.
    Now,returning to our homes,we must stress collectivity in and of community on the vital issue of the 2 Nov vote and beyond,because the Tea Partiers,as pointed out by many heroines and heroes of struggle at the lectern at Lincoln Memorial,including a most important message from singer/actor Harry Belafonte : the foundations of democracy in the United States of America are being threatened by a "totalitarian",pro-war,pro-poverty,pro-unemployment,anti-education,anti-science,anti-communist,anti-socialist ,anti-government,racist,bigoted,extremist Tea Party movement,whose adherents are violent.
    The communists must be leaders in building all people and all organizational unity against this fascist movement to help save the democracy of the Obama administration,and its constituents.
    The imperial rulers that this despicable movement represents are frightened and threatened by democracy and seek to kill it,now.
    We must help get out the vote 2 November,next month,weeks away.
    We must do this as One Nation Together,turning to one another,with details.

    Posted by E.E.W. Clay, 10/04/2010 6:08pm (5 years ago)

  • The event was terrific, and really important.
    On the distribution of our literature, it would appear that the National Park Service police do not permit mass leafletting on the mall and surrounding park areas. At the large immigrants' rights rally on the Mall in March, cops were going around stopping people from leafletting. Did not stop Libero with the cards, but this was generally discouraged.
    We had two other disadvantages:
    1. The whole area of lit tables was hidden from most of the participants in the march by a rise of ground between the reflecting pool and another little body of water, so probably large number of people did not the lit tables at all (I ran into a number of Party people and friends by the reflecting pool, and had to point out to them where the lit tables were). For example, large feeder marches approached the Lincoln Memorial along the SOUTH side of the Reflecting Pool, which means that they were on the opposite side from the lit tables, which they could not see from there. 2. They put our lit table at the very end. In other activities like this, I have seen the lit tables placed directly on both sides of the mall, so everybody who participates can see them. This would have been something decided by the National Park Service Police which affected all participating groups, not just us, and was nothing that we could control. In these previous activities, the gatherings have not been close to the Lincoln Memorial but more toward the Capitol building. Maybe that had something to do with where the lit tables got placed; I don't know for sure. In future activities, we should insist on having lit tables close to where the main rally is happening.
    As an afterthought, it might indeed have been good to post people near train stations, intersections etc. so as to be able to distribute materials to people heading for the activity. So we will take that into consideration for the next time, and I trust that there will be many next times.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 10/04/2010 2:58pm (5 years ago)

  • Thank you, Tim; this article sure beats the 5 second/2 line (or nonexistent) coverage in the mainstream news.

    Posted by Lesley Thomas, 10/04/2010 2:39pm (5 years ago)

  • It truly was a great day.

    As to John, I have to say you are just uninformed about there not being a special "One nation" edition of the People's World. We did have a four-page special edition as well as two different promotion cards for the website and lots of other materials.

    Many thousands of people were pointed to our website and a number signed up for the People's World headline list.

    I handed out a couple thousands cards myself near the WWII memorial as people from around the country streamed by. I am sorry I didn't run into you. It was a little crowded.

    Did you visit our table? Did you volunteer to help with the distribution? If you missed the details of the contingent and distribution and table, then you aren't signed up for email alerts.

    There is no one else who will build this publication except its grassroots supporters around the country like you and me. We have to stop waiting for someone else to do it.

    Posted by Libero Della Piana, 10/04/2010 12:31pm (5 years ago)

  • "You look like one beautiful nation. There is nothing we can't do when we stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder."

    Oh yeah. I saw the pictures of the mall after all your UNION paid for busses removed the slobs.
    What a freaking mess. Trash everywhere.

    Of course . . that's what you folks do. TRASH other peoples stuff.

    Posted by Bob Z, 10/04/2010 1:46am (5 years ago)

  • I'm so sorry I couldn't be there to cheer on my fellow freedom loving democrats. I am a gay man! I am an American! I believe that EVERYONE...black or white, straight or gay, christian, islam or jew...has the right to be happy, be successful, and be prosporious in this nation. The tea party and the republicans have an evil agenda. They must be stopped!

    Posted by Joseph McIntye, 10/03/2010 10:23pm (5 years ago)

  • Good coverage of a historical event! I'm proud to note that Communists across the nation involved themselves in little and large ways to make this "coming together" such a success! I'll be putting together a "faraway Texas participation" article as soon as I get a couple more reports.
    --jim lane in Dallas

    Posted by Jim Lane, 10/03/2010 3:59pm (5 years ago)

  • Yes, it was a great moment in time and---if we do it right---will extend well beyond October 2.

    I was proud to be a part of this, traveling in with my union AFSCME DC 1707, along withg thousands and thousands of other unionists. But what made this call for jobs, education, peace and social justice was that we were wholeheartedly joined by by the NAACP (co-organizing the event with the AFL), scores of environmentalists, immigrants rights activists, and organizations working on behalf of all progressive issues. There was also a socialist contingent that represented a variety of Left groups, good to see a level of much-needed unity, reflecting the unified vision of One Nation.

    Along the march route leading from the train station to the Lincoln Memorial, we were greeted by some far-Left groups handing out their newspapers and the SWP and others were also selling a bevy of radical history texts at their own tables. I feel the need to add that I was deeply disappointed that there WAS NOT any kind of One World special addtion of 'the People's World'---think of how well the title would have worked on that day! It would have been as important for the CP to distribute copies of this as it would have been to have a CPUSA table with lit----but I did not see the Party represented along that route which thousands and thousands walked. It was a noticable absence.

    Posted by John Pietaro, 10/03/2010 3:44pm (5 years ago)

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