Pro-Labor Rally in Lansing

December 12, 2012

Gracious Living Day by DayMy niece Nicole and I spent a cold, but electrifying day in Lansing yesterday. Important things were happening in Michigan’s capital and we wanted to be there to show our support for the working people of our state and bear witness to historical transformations.

Michigan Legislature, dominated by the Republican party, yesterday passed the Right to Work Bill, thus approving wide ranging changes in the way that unions are financed and greatly reducing their power. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill late in the afternoon.

These are the scenes we witnessed at the rally. All around us people were walking, singing, shouting, carrying signs. Nurses, teachers, plumbers, electricians, teamsters, auto workers. Strong young men in firefighting uniforms, a very old woman in a wheelchair, two black women with little children, a father with his daughter, an old man with a walker and an oxygen tank. And thousands of others.

The atmosphere was almost festive, everyone friendly and kind, people making sure there was room in the crowd for all.

Speeches were made, the most memorable (and also familiar) one by Jessie Jackson talking about Egypt and the Red Sea, Selma and Montgomery. Nikki and I drew close and as Rev. Jackson left the podium I got him to take a picture with Nikki.

In early afternoon a police swat team in full riot gear jogged out from the State Capital and through the crowd, there to protect the aptly named Romney building where the governor was about to sign the bill. The crowd parted to let them pass.

As a guitar band started playing Woodie Guthrie union songs, I couldn’t help thinking that old Woodie would have felt right at home at this gathering.

Some things never change, and I imagine that power struggles among various groups of people will always be with us. I was happy, though, that the group I supported needed nothing but songs to shield it from the disagreements of the day.

Pro labor supporters at the State Capital in Lansing, MI                                    Pro labor supporters at the State Capital in Lansing, MI My niece Nicole with Rev. Jessie Jackson                                               My niece Nicole with Rev. Jessie Jackson I, cold but glad to show my support                                                            I, cold but glad to show my support
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