Million Worker March Event Highlights Local Efforts for Equity

by Susan Fried

“There is a difference between a moment and a movement,” said Gabriel Prawl, the President of the Seattle branch of the A. Philip Randolph Association. “The meaning of a movement is sacrifice, a moment is we are just here today, we go home and it’s over, a movement is when we leave here today we continue to do something that makes change, we continue to organize, to bring people together, we continue to face the issues and we are not afraid to speak to power.”

Pawl shared this sentiment as he introduced the speakers at an event called “Where Do We Go From Here,” a discussion about what workers can do to meet the goals set at the Million Worker March in October of 2004. The 2004 Million Workers March Movement proposed “a working people’s political agenda independent of any corporate party.” The event, held September 22 at the Garfield Community Center, featured several distinguished speakers who were active in organizing the 2004 Million Workers March.

Speakers included Clarence Thomas, the Co-founder the Million Workers March Movement and a member of ILWU Local 10 retired; Million Worker March organizer and esteemed actor and activist Danny Glover; and Chris Silvera, Secretary Treasurer Local 808 Long Island City and East Coast Convener of the Million Workers March Movement.

The participants in the 2004 Million Workers March had a list of demands that included a national living wage, universal single-payer health care, and protections for workers’ right to organize. All three guest speakers talked about the continued need for a political agenda that addresses the needs of America’s working people.

The event also featured a panel of local activists fighting for change locally and for the state of Washington.

Andre Taylor, founder of Not This Time, spoke about the importance of passing Initiative 940, which would require better de-escalation training for law enforcement. K. Wyking Garrett, President of the Africatown Community Land Trust, talked about maintaining the Central District, Seattle’s historic Black neighborhood, as a place where the Black community can continue to grow and thrive.

Jesse Wineberry is a key organizer with the Initiative 1000 campaign, which aims to restore affirmative action in Washington. He reminded the community of the damage done by the passage of 1998’s Initiative 200, which ended affirmative action in the state, and the need of bringing back affirmative action and fairness to government contracts in Washington. Labor activist Trent Wu talked about the efforts to unionize New Seasons, a high-end grocery store that is opening a location in the Central District.

The meeting ended with the people vowing to continue the movement for a better quality of life for working people.

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Chris Silvera, one of the original organizers of the Million Workers March in 2004, talks about the continued struggle of working people for fair wages and job security during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Actor and activist Danny Glover greets people attending a forum on workers’ rights called “Where Do We Go From Here.” Glover was one of the original organizers of the Million Worker March in 2004. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Gabriel Prawl, the President of the Seattle branch of the A. Phillip Randolph Association, speaks about the movement for workers’ rights during a forum called “Where Do We Go From Here,” which discussed the 2004 Million Worker March on Washington and its continued influence on the struggle for a working people’s political agenda. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The Raging Grannies sing “Solidarity Forever” during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum on the movement for a working people’s political agenda. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Jesse Wineberry, one of the lead backers of Initiative 1000, talks about the need to end the ban on affirmative action in Washington and bring back fairness and equal opportunity in government contracts and hiring during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum September 22 at Garfield Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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A panel of local community activists, including Jesse Wineberry, K. WyKing Garrett, Trent Wu, and Andre Taylor, talk about issues affecting people in Seattle and Washington during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum on workers’ rights, September 22 at Garfield Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Clarence Thomas, Co-founder of the Million Workers March movement, listens to the other speakers, September 22 at Garfield Community Center, during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum on workers’ rights. (Photo: Susan Fried)

Featured Photo: Spoken-word artist Evan Cook ends his performance with a raised fist in the air symbolizing “Power to the People” during the “Where Do We Go From Here” forum on workers’ rights, September 22 at Garfield Community Center. (Photo: Susan Fried)

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