Photos: Tom and Nadin Abbott
Video: Tom Abbott
Feb 2016 (San Diego) The Union Hall for the United Domestic Workers of America in San Diego was packed, including an overflow room. Young and old came to participate in getting the National Action Network San Diego Chapter officially join the network (NAN). The key note speaker was Reverend Al Sharpton, who founded the organization in 1991. This is fastest growing civil rights organization in the United States.
This was about the past, and remembering the past. But it was also about the future. This was an event that keep attendees, on the edge of their seats. We were told by several attendees after the event, including Rabbi Lorie Coskey.
Shane Harris, President of the San Diego Chapter said in the introduction that “this is a very important moment in history. when we remember the history and the legacy of leaders who came before us, but we acknowledge the next steps of what we call the movement. The struggles of the 1960s.”
He added that the struggles of the leaders of the 1960s, such as Doctor Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and others cannot be forgotten.
“This is a new chapter for the National Action Network,” but also a celebration of the next steps of the movement.
Maxine Clark, Harris’s co-host for the night, added, that those of the sixties and seventies generation have already set the precedents. “And we are so excited to see that the young people are now getting that vision. Because if we don’t remember where we come from, we are bound to repeat that past.”
The event also contained a call for people to show up at the polls in June. A raise in the minimum wage will be on the ballot in June. Doug Moore, UDW Executive Director
AFSCME International Vice President, reminded people of this. Voting is one of the many ways that NAN uses to change things for the better for working people.
When Reverend Al Sharpton came to the stage, the crowd did indeed sit on the edge of their seats. There is no way we could do real justice to the address. So we are embedding it, so you can you can watch it. We had to break it into two parts and there might a few second missing.
After the event Reporting San Diego asked about mass incarceration and the disenfranchisement of primarily African American and Latino men, and how the movement will deal with this issue? Sharpton said: “The mass incarceration that was being addressed by Attorney General (Eric) Holder when he started giving instructions to not ask for mandatory time on non violent crimes is at risk in this election.”
He also said that “we must elect people and deal with people that will continue to turning back these very oppressive laws. We have more people in jail than anybody in the world. And many of them innocent there because they cannot afford a defense. And many of them there because of non violent crimes.”
We need, according to Sharpton, an attorney general that will deal with that the way that Holder started. Ultimately, we need to reverse mandatory sentencing laws.
As far as local plans, Harris has already been very active in housing justice issues, as well as worker and immigration issues. He has also been very active in school issues. Today the NAN will be leading a protest at the Oscars over the fact that the Academy has not nominated the work of minorities for two years straight. That is tonight in Los Angeles. A buss left from the Union hall at 12:00. The reason for that, is that even in the media minorities, and their work, are getting surpassed.
By the way, Sharpton was asked about who he plans to endorse. He will endorse whoever helps his causes. So no, we do not have that news for you. Though he did state two things that were of interest to Reporting San Diego. The first is that he has rejected the idea of running for president ever again. Secondly he said that this is a fight for delegates, and a state by state process.
Reverend Harris was recognized for his work by both City Council Member Myrtle Cole (CD-4), and Assembly member Lorena Gonzalez’s office. (D-AD80). Among the political dignitaries were also Lori Saldana, running for Mayor of San Diego, as well as Marti Emerald (CD-9) and David Alvarez (CD-7)
Among community members were Bishop George Dallas McKinney, who blessed the event. There many of the church leaders present as well, as union leaders, such as Richard Barrera and as we mentioned above, Doug Moore.