Monday, February 4, 2008

We Saw the Face of a New America

On May 1st 2006, millions took to the streets in cities and communities throughout the nation to finally have their voices heard.

Out from the shadows came the forgotten, the marginalized, the nameless, faceless, mass of humanity who toil daily in thankless jobs with little reward or recognition.

Those who had labored invisibly for years as they quietly provided a nation with prosperity of which they could never partake, took to the streets to say "no more". We will no longer be marginalized … We will no longer be demonized … We will not be criminalized ….We Are America.

That day, as pundits and politicians tried to grasp the seismic shift taking place, attempting to read the tea leaves of public opinion and formulate positions that would serve them politically, two men had the courage to do not what was safe or politically expedient …but rather, what was right.

One was an elder statesman, a lion in winter, who had long fought the great battles of his generation, battles for justice, and battles for equality. ….The other was a young man, just starting his political journey. A young man with a vision of the future based on hopes and dreams for a new America... An America that finally lived up to the principles and precepts on which it was founded. Those two men were Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. Barack Obama….The only two sitting Senators to take to the streets in solidarity with those who had too long been invisible.



Three days later Obama had this to say about his participation in the events in Chicago, and his vision for a new America:

On Monday, I traveled from D.C. to Chicago to witness a monumental event. There were 400,000 people marching on behalf of comprehensive immigration reform in this country. There were rallies all across the country but Chicago was one of the largest. I had the opportunity to speak to the people who were gathering at Union Park before they marched over to Grant Park. Four-hundred thousand people, mostly of Mexican origin, but large numbers of people from other countries - Nigerians and Pakistanis and Indians and Filipinos - people who've come to this country for the same reason that immigrants have been drawn to this country for generations: the notion that they can pursue and better life for themselves but, most importantly, for their children, if they work hard and apply themselves.

I think what we saw in those marches is the face of a new America. America is changing and we can't be threatened by it. We have to understand that we are going to be better off united than divided.

…to those who are fearful of these immigrants, in some cases because they have come to represent a loss of control for the country and its borders, I would just say to them that we can't have a country in which you have a servant class that is picking our lettuce or plucking our chickens or looking after our children or mowing our lawns but who never have the full rights and obligations of citizenship. That's just not the kind of country that I want to have my children grow up in and my hope is that over the coming months we can come up with the kind of comprehensive, thoughtful legislation that I think the Senate bill reflects and we can have strong border security, we can have employers do the right thing by hiring those who are here legally in some fashion, but that we also provide all those families, children, elderly people and teenagers that I saw in that amazing march on Monday the opportunity to be full members of the American community.

Barack Obama on Immigration Marches, May 4, 2006

6 comments:

John Lamb said...

I started a new Facebook group called, "I Marched in 2006"

Join here.

It is a group for anyone who marched in the pro-immigrant rallies of 2006 (or wish they did).

We continue to walk in a virtual march to show support for all immigrants.

We want to transform the immigration bureaucracy.

With your help, history will witness the U.S. government respect, offer opportunity to, and see everyone inside this country as the neighbors that they are.

Sans Prejudice said...

There are many of us, in this field (immigration law) and our friends and relatives, who would happily do anything we can, to advance the cause for Comprehensive Reform and Equitable treatment of our brethren. Not all of us are of Hispanic origin - some of us are originally from India and other places, and are happy to be mistaken for Mexicans frequently. Therefore, when there is anything that all of us as a group can do, we are happy to jump in, including marching in New York City.

Recently, we have found Sen. Clinton extremely sympathetic to our mutual cause. It irks me somewhat that Sen. Obama has single-handedly commandeered "Si Se Puede" as his battle cry - its ours as well. Let's all of us do what is good for the common good. Let's get rid of the racist biases that plague us all the time, when all the losers in the world, who cannot find jobs, blame the “illegal invasion” for their failures.

It also irks me though, that until Sen. Kennedy parted ways from Sen. Clinton, our cause was not as important to him that he actually travel and take it up in California, Arizona etc. It’s really very opportunistic and manipulative. We have to find a way to get through to those who exploit us, the Lou Dobbs and Co., that we may have accents but we are not stupid - we are not bags of potatoes to be pushed any which way. Let's reclaim our dignity please - we have only enriched this country not raped it. Let's behave that way, and go toe to toe with whoever decides to take us on - even if it is Sen. McCain who has just announced that if the Comprehensive Reform bill came to his table now, he wouldn't sign it.

We have a common cause - it’s our fight for dignity and self-esteem; therefore, we can achieve it, we don't have to subordinate our existence to anyone else's will.

Best regards.

Anonymous said...

Please, continue to march, continue waving the flags of your mother countries, continue with your anti-American chants and above all, continue to make demands from American citizens and our government that you are not entitled to. The grassroots movement in this country is stronger than it has ever been and WE THE PEOPLE are watching our elected officials closer than ever before. Any pandering to special interest groups based on ethnicity will not be tolerated and will be political suicide to any politician that does so. So, continue to demonstrate in such a manner that all of this country will see who you really are.

Sans Prejudice said...

Unfortunately for you, we are citizens, and each one of us happens to contribute, considerably more to the GDP than about 10 of you can in 10 years.

We don't need your assistance, thank God. Moreover, you are such inutterable cowards that you have to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, and are ill-prepared to assist yourselves; therefore, it is unimaginable that you can actually do anything for or against anyone.

We suggest you return to whatever holes shelter you people and begin to organiza and pray. Currently, you are failing in the most spectacular fashion; literally combusting in your self-immolating hatred, right before your eyes.

What happened? English too hard for you to understand? Look up a Thesaurus, it won't bite you.

Duke1676 said...

anonymous said:

"The grassroots movement in this country is stronger than it has ever been and WE THE PEOPLE are watching our elected officials closer than ever before."

Which must be why your powerful grassroots movement is about to nominate John McCain as it's party's standard bearer.


Give it up...the American people have spoken at the polls and they have totally rejected your anti-immigrant policies.

You have no "grassroots movement," just a small number of very vocal racist malcontents who have dominated discourse for far too long and now will be relegated to the trash heap of political history where they belong

Anonymous said...

By all indicators we will have our first woman President. Not my choice for a Commander-in-Chief, but she has already stated no drivers licences for illegal aliens and no blanket amnesty for the 20-25 million illegal aliens present in the U.S. Also, her party, Democraps, are pushing through the Save Act which originated on their side of the aisle. Real good chance it will become law and all employers will be required to use the E-Verify system on all their employees.

As for McCain, he is nothing short of a Democrap in Republican clothing. But, he has stated that if a comprehensive immigration reform bill was to pass over his desk today, he would not sign it.

Your savior, Obama, will not do anything to tarnish his image of being the first Black President, if he wins. He knows that any type of ethnic pandering on his part would negate the possibility of ever having a Black President again.

The candidates want your vote and will promise anything to get it. Once in office, their reputations are at risk and all of them know that the majority of this country will not settle for anything less than 100% enforcement of our immigration laws that are in effect today.

Not to shabby for a dying grassroots movement that has put a lot of doubt and common sense ideas into the minds of all the candidates in the front of the pack.