Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Second Rebuild America Rally

February 28, 2009, 10 am
Riehle Plaza, Lafayette, Indiana

Organized by the United Steelworkers of America

Sixty-five workers, students, and peace activists listened to speeches and marched around the Lafayette Courthouse calling for a mass movement to “Rebuild America.”

Harry Targ spoke to the rally:

My excitement with this new year peaked early, seeing my folk singing hero, Pete Seeger leading 500,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in a great rendition of “This Land is Your Land.” This song was written by Woody Guthrie in the late 1930s in the spirit of labor activism, leftwing politics, and New Deal policies creating jobs, advancing worker rights, and committing government to helping people survive in hard times.

Last February 11, 130 students showed up at an event organized by the Purdue Organization for Labor Equality (POLE) to hear two Honduran workers describe the corporate shut down of their factory because workers had decided to form a union. And these workers were producing products with a Purdue logo on them. Subsequently Purdue University canceled its contract with the company.

The next night February 12, a well-known historian gave a gripping lecture to about 120 people on the life of pro-worker New Deal photographer, Dorothea Lange.

Two days after that, the USW organized the first Rebuild America Rally. Organizers urged all of us to come together to build a movement to rebuild America.

In addition, recently peace activists in the community have been planning panels and films to challenge war policies and military spending. Environmentalists have been working hard to save what is left of the Celery Bog in West Lafayette. Two grassroots groups that worked on the Obama campaign have been building campaigns around volunteerism in the community, democratizing local politics, and one of the groups is discussing co-sponsoring training to support the Employee Free Choice Act. Meanwhile social concerns groups in many of our churches, synagogues, and mosques have been working on social justice issues with renewed vigor.

All these groups work on national, state and local issues. All the different groups are working on parallel and complementary issues: jobs and health care; jobs, healthcare, and peace; green jobs and economic development. Every group is concerned about fairness for workers, women, and people of color.

What we need to do now is join forces, work together on each others’ issues, coordinate our electoral work and maybe some day, all across this country, and this state we will be able to put our hands together and sing ‘This Land is Really Our Land.”