From a friend of mine in Norfolk, VA who attended the One Nation Working Together Rally:
Yesterday, after some finagling, a van with six, interesting, diverse and progressive people left Norfolk for Dunkin' Donuts and then on the D.C. for a rally for jobs, peace, and education. Last week end we had promised a ride to a friend who wanted to go. Then someone called Wednesday evening, a call my husband took. He told him where we lived but took no other information. In the meantime, some other friends, a couple wanted to come too, we could not fit four people in our small car, so after some soul searching, we decided to rent a van and drive the six of us up. The Thrifty and Dollar car rentals made going for all much cheaper than going on the bus and more intimate too. After a week of rain, in our neighborhood, 10 inches over the course of 3-4 days, having a bright, sunny, 72 degree day in D.C. was heaven. We parked in Pentagon City in a parking garage and took the metro in.
The rally was called One Nation. It had thousands and thousands of people from all over the East of the Mississippi area, many wearing bright tee-shirts with either their union affiliation or the "One Nation" logo. The speaker line up was equally impressive. Just to point out, this rally was sort of a counter to Glen Beck's (a reactionary TV talk show host's rally on Martin Luther King's Birthday in January, I believe) rally and according to helicopter view estimations, the crowd was much, much larger and more rainbow colored too. The major M.C. for this rally was a progressive TV talk show host, Ed Schultz. He's been pushing it for a while. But the speaker line up was moving and inspirational. The ones whose speeches I most remember and enjoyed, though certainly not the only ones who spoke, were, Harry Belafonte, a singer now maybe in his 80s whose beautiful creamy voice is now cracked and high pitched but his delivery was very much of conviction and determination. Martin Luther King's memory was brought up and so was his march of 1963, the march for hope and reform were brought up. The venue paired youth unknowns with celebrities as when Jesse Jackson introduced a student whose parent had been deported but his brother, who was born in the states and was a citizen and he, who had been granted a stay because of his student status could stay, then the student introduced Jesse Jackson who too, spoke of King and of hope and of not letting the vocal, but sparse "tea party" people lead to apathy amongst us and a defeat of the reforms Obama has managed to bring about. There was a young man from Los Angeles who was twenty three and had been spared from youth gangs from some program that the Obama administration put into play. He spoke very, very well and tried to inspire the youth to have faith in themselves and not let drugs and crime tempt them into temporary riches. The former secretary of education in the Clinton administration and now some administrator for children in the UN spoke. She spoke of learning all we needed to know as activists from Noah's Arc story. #1. Get on Board,...other lessons included grouping together, working together to get things done, to plan ahead and don't think that solving problems for now is the only thing but to plan ahead, though there is more, I can't remember all, though the last point everyone laughed and agreed with..."remember, Noah's Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic was built by professionals!:" People of all ages, colors, ethnic backgrounds spoke, they all spoke of hope and for the need for action. I was very moved and have hope again. Hopefully this rally along with Jon Stewart 's(yet another comedic talk show host) at the end of this month will bring out the vote in November to prevent too many congressional seats from being lost.
I, unfortunately suffered from some sort of knee/hip ailment which made walking difficult, the others in our group, however, walked around and mentioned that they had met at least 20 activists from our area and we already knew that a bus had been hired. Progressives are popping out in this military area and it is encouraging.
After the rally, we had dinner in Pentagon City near where our car was parked. We were sitting and chatting and eating. Near the end of our meal, our waiter was taking away some root beer bottles when I stopped him. I asked him if his restaurant recycled. He said no. Then we commented on that. He then shyly but courageously told us a story about how he and his partner lived in an apartment complex and they sent around a petition and got the complex to have recycling in their complex. We asked him where he was from, he told us, from the mountains of Virginia and then he told us that his partner had just bought a new sports car and they went the back ways through the mountains to visit his home and how much fun it was. At least in the states, it is a sign of progress when your waiter can admit he is gay. Aside from problems with the parking meter, we made it home without incidents. An exhausting but very rejuvenating and bonding time with some fine people. New hope, new energy and cooler weather!!