CHICAGO – It was 101 degrees in the shade July 21, and the humidity made it feel much worse. But that did not stop 200 white-haired retirees, disabled people in wheelchairs and younger supporters from rallying against cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Standing in front of the Social Security Offices in downtown Chicago, their shouts could be heard across the street in the offices of Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. Protesters pledged to call the senators with the message.

A message from Eleanor Roosevelt was read to the crowd by a look-alike dressed to fit the part. She scolded the heartless Congressmembers and Senators who want to cut the deficit on the backs of seniors, disabled and children. Without Social Security, she said, they would be plunged into deep poverty.

“Tax corporations and the rich” was the rally’s answer to the phony budget crisis. “It’s not a budget crisis,” a speaker pointed out. “It’s a revenue crisis.” Make Wall Street and the banks pay,” the protestors added.

The rally flyer stated that 43 percent of Americans use Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The average Social Security benefit is only $1,158, but the CEO of Morgan Chase was paid $21 million last year.

The coalition that organized the rally is planning their next event. Members include the Jane Adams Senior Caucus; Illinois Association for Retired Americans; Access Illinois; SEIU health care workers; Citizen Action of Illinois; Lakeview Action Coalition; Northside People Organized to Work, Educate and Restore; and Southsiders Organizing for Unity and Liberation.

If you’re in Illinois, organizers ask that you call your senators and tell them not to allow cuts to programs that benefit working people. For Sen. Kirk, dial 312-886-3506, and for Sen. Durbin, dial 312-353-4952.


Beatrice Lumpkin
Beatrice Lumpkin

Beatrice Lumpkin is a long time labor activist with laundry workers, steelworkers, and teachers. As a math professor at Malcolm X College in Chicago, she fought to restore the contributions of people of color to the educational curriculum. She has served as a multicultural consultant to textbook publishers and to public schools in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Portland, Ore. She is the author of “Always Bring a Crowd, the Story of Frank Lumpkin Steelworker” and “Joy in the Struggle, My Life and Love.” Beatrice Lumpkin is an active member of the Teachers Union and SOAR.