Reminding the People of Their Power

Reminding the People of Their Power

On Monday, the working-class political organizing group People’s Action held its first annual convention, entitled Rise Up 2017, featuring Senator Bernie Sanders. At a time when record numbers of progressives seem to be running for office, scores of activists proclaimed their candidacies on stage.

Following a brassy opening—a marching band played “When the Saints Go Marching In”—a range of social justice activists, almost all of them children of immigrants, came forward to relate their personal narratives of struggle and, in many cases, to announce their candidacies for public office.

Martha Lugo, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant, told the group that she will be running for city council in Aurora, Colorado. While 60 percent of Aurora’s population are people of color, she said, 100 percent of the city council members are white. “I’m currently a PhD candidate,” she told the audience. “Imagine that, the janitor’s kid.”

After remarks from Lugo and other community leaders, the organization invited onto the stage all of the people in the room who will run for office. Seventy-two people, many of them children of immigrants, people of color, and women, flooded the stage.

Sanders then joined them. “We are not going to let Donald Trump or his friends divide us up by race, or gender, or sexual orientation,” he vowed. “When we stand together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.”

Sanders also announced that he will be introducing legislation in the coming weeks that would establish Medicare for all and raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.