To the Youth In Action clubs of 2017
Youth have always pushed the boundaries of our movement, and dared to envision and bring to life our wildest freedom dreams–this year’s Youth in Action members were no different. From defending their school to defending their community, they have all taken their leadership to the next level. We are immensely proud, humbled and thankful to build community and witness their power.
The following speech was written by Eddie Lopez, our teacher sponsor in Bell Gardens, we would like to extend the gratitude Lopez expressed to Bell Garden’s youth to all our Youth in Action members in Long Beach, Lynwood and East Los Angeles and to all the youth in the struggle across the globe.
Thank you for your support in these trying and confusing times. Words cannot convey the gratitude and emotions that are in my heart and soul, it is greatly appreciated. Being in education is a thankless job in many respects, especially as we have seen with the turmoil of layoffs, insufficient communication from board members, district officials, teachers and the public. The most satisfactory aspect, from my perspective, is the support of students, especially to those who have taken to non-violent demonstrations, practicing their constitutional rights. As stated by the ACLU attorney Michael Hannon defending the East LA 13 in the aftermath of the East LA Blowouts, “The demonstration is a poor man’s printed press and his right to do so, it is as important as the right of a rich man’s newspaper or our talk of free speech is just a mockery.”
A student stated to me about the demonstration, “What is the point, it doesn’t matter.” What is the point, IT DOES MATTER, in regards to social movements, demonstrating, creating real change in society begins with one person. And it spreads like wildfire from one person to the next, and so on, and so on. That is the point, TO BE HEARD and to churn AGAINST the wheels of opposition.
As Martin Luther King surmised in “I Have a Dream,” “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”
Or as Dolores Huerta stated, “Don’t be a marshmallow, walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk. Stop being vegetables. Work for justice.”
And finally Emma Goldman, “The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.”
Demonstrations have led to social movements: Women’s suffrage, the great uprising (female garment workers strike in New York 1909, 1910) African-American Civil Rights Movement, Chicano and Puerto Rican Civil Rights Movement, Unions, Socialist Movement and Strikes during the Great Depression (1933-1938), Feminist Movement, Environmental Movement, American Indian Movement, Blowouts in East Los Aneles, Against Vietnam, Chicano Moratorium, Farm Workers (UFW), LGBTQ, Occupy and countless others. These movements have altered the fabric of these United States. Without demonstrations causes remain invisible, absent from the public view, an amnesia pervades, with invisibility no one realizes there is a problem, a history, a better beginning, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Again thank you, to those with a fighting spirit, that took chance of being uncomfortable and using parts of themselves they didn’t know existed.