My May Day Experience

Friday, May 17, 2013

On an unusually warm and sunny May 1st, I gathered with ACLU of Washington coworkers and supporters at Judkins Park in Seattle’s Central District, joining with thousands of others to participate in the annual May Day march.  The march began here in Washington 13 years ago as a day of advocacy for worker and immigration rights, and it continues to provide a safe and supportive forum for individuals to tell their stories and publicly express their support.

This event was my first time participating in a march of this kind, and I found the entire experience to be eye-opening and humbling.  I was amazed at how many people were there to participate, from construction and iron workers to chefs and members of allied organizations. It focused attention on questions of why we still do not have true equality in this country.

As we marched, I was touched by the recognition and support the ACLU-WA received from many in the crowd. We encountered young advocates asking how they could volunteer with us, as well as older supporters complimenting us for recent work on key pieces of legislation. As I carried the ACLU-WA banner proclaiming “Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself,” I realized the great importance of our organization participating in this event, to help make sure immigration reform continues to be a top priority. Almost three hours later, we arrived at the Federal Building for the post-march rally.

Although I have the luxury of being born in this country, at some point in time my family traveled here from both Russia and Ireland. In fact, I sometimes forget this and feel that immigration reform is far removed from my situation as a white female with American citizenship. Yet this march forced me to look back, and I realized that hopefully the situation of grandchildren of immigrants at the march will be the same as mine. I cannot imagine how different my life would have been if the immigrant members of my family had been unable to thrive and succeed because of their status.  Fortunately, today’s immigrants have the help of the ACLU and other groups that are working to protect and advance their rights.

In the end, the march and rally was inspiring, filled with a cacophony of diverse voices, all proclaiming that immigration reform must happen NOW!  I’m glad that I was there as a representative of an organization helping to represent what we all dream about in this country.

This march showed the importance of solidarity – that if everyone bands together and fights injustice, our voices can be heard and change is possible.

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