After Rev. Timothy McDonald charged us to “go get it did”, everyone is slowly making their way to the buses outside.
Since I was tasked with covering this event from an immigration angle, it’s interesting how the topic was often listed as one of the challenges facing American communities. Many speakers mentioned immigrant rights alongside access to health care, economic opportunity, the worsening economy, etc. When I did some video interviews before the event, I noticed how many participants, even US citizens with no recent immigrants in their families, saw the issue much the same way: as one of many challenges to address. And maybe that’s the point: as a “community value”, immigration is central to what the United States is about. Now if we can just tackle how to overhaul our current system and make it work for all of us…
What an inspiring event! and maybe a little the daunting because of all the work we have ahead us. (Whew!)
Get fired up!
– Will Coley, guest blogger, signing off (and rolling up my sleeves)
“If you remember anything from what I’ve said today, remember three things that we need to do: Number 1 organize, Number 2 organize and Number 3 organize!” said William McNary of USAction and he brought down the house.
Pastor Michael Harrison introduced Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s Senior Advisor, like she was a professional wrestler. I was ready to hear him say “Are you ready to rumble?!” They even strobed (flickered) the lights to let us know that she’s a heavy hitter.
Valerie received an amazing ovation and she electrified the room. I almost had to elbow my way to the front to get this photo for you (to left).
After a rousing challenge to everyone in the room, Valerie ended with “I wanna know: Are you fired up?” And everyone screamed even louder than they had before.
On the second roundtable (where is the table, by the way?), the panelists are talking about democracy in the New America.
Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council for President-Elect Obama’s White House, says that Obama will be a different kind of president. She talks about Obama economic stimulus shock plan and what it will mean for hard-working people in American communities. She says “We’re making a down payment on the promises” to Americans.
Joseph Hansen of the UFCW says that the last eight years were a “train wreck” and gets cheers.
Juan Williams closes this panel reminding us that we are in midst of history and to “keep our eyes on the prize“.
Journalist Juan Williams moderates the first panel on the Old America and New America. “How’d we get here?” he asks.
The audience is responding just as vocally as they did to the earlier rallying cries. “Yes!”, “Whooo!” (Sorry for not getting Representative Luis Guitterrez in my photo to the left: see photo below. He’s speaking so powerfully, folks know he’s here!)
The best part of being in a room full of organizers is that they don’t hesitate to yell “Louder!” when they can’t hear the speaker. And they don’t stop ’til they can!
Props to Juan Williams to continually reminding the panelists to focus on what people here (and you out there) can do to realize the change we seek.
Man, if you could tap into all this pent up energy in here right now! Get ready America!
Miguel Perez with Casa De Maryland (in back) recounted his family’s experience with immigration enforcement and introduces Representative Chris Van Hollen (at podium). The congressman says administration wants to harness the energy of the election. “Yes, we will make the change we need!”
Dr. Hoffman Brown leads a back and forth between community partners. “We are no longer going to ask if we can sit at the table ’cause we OWN the table now!” Now he asks each of us “Are YOU ready for a new America?!”
Everybody’s on their feet cheering. You can feel the pulse of the room: everyone is excited, ready to see real change. I feel it. I’m ready!
Feel it to by watching the live webcast: Click here to WATCH THIS HISTORIC EVENT LIVE NOW broadcasting from 3 PM EST – 6 PM EST.
April Page of Alliance to Develop Power got folks on their feet who are currently facing challenges that need justice.
Janet Murguia gives a shout out for what we did in the past election.”Yes, we can and we did!”
I love how this is feeling like church with the call and response! “Uh-huh!”, “Yes!”, “Preach!”
Teresa Anderson and Rev. Timothy McDonald open the event and invited representatives from different faiths to lead us in prayer at this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.
Deepak Bhargava and Ana Garcia-Ashley welcome us. Garcia-Ashley announces that “Community organizing finally comes to Washington” and that Obama is our “Community Organizer in Chief.”
After a countdown, lights dim and we’re now watching an inspiring video about community organizing. Every time Obama appears folks scream. Folks applaud when they see themselves in photos. Footage from Obama speaking at the last CCC forum gets folks cheering. “All of us” final repeated words.
This is Will Coley signing on today to live blog from Realizing the Promise in Washington, DC.
Good thing this is text since any audio would be drowned out right now by the Positive Vibrations youth steel drum orchestra and folks chanting “El pubelo unido jams sera vencido” in the breaks. Everybody is very excited to be here!