Atlanta, GA – “Our first two weeks here at OBB have been a whirlwind – a hectic, beautiful, inspiring whirlwind. During our first week we rallied with ballpark workers at National Stadium; took a trip to Philadelphia to support the teachers and Student Safety Staff fasting to protest public school layoffs; and began to get accustomed to our different assignments. We capped off our second week with a trip to Atlanta to visit our brothers and sisters down there who are also members of Local 23. On the first day we got to hang out with other workers and organizers from Atlanta and helped them out with some organizing they have been working on.
The next day we went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in downtown Atlanta. Walking around the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and King’s childhood home a few blocks away, we were in awe. King’s powerful presence still seemed to reverberate throughout the places he once occupied. Although I had heard the story of MLK and the Civil Rights Movement before, being in Atlanta and being aware of myself as an organizer, the story took on a new meaning. King’s resilience in the face of immense odds and death threats, in addition to his steadfast philosophy of nonviolence and his refusal to stoop to the base level of his adversaries, left me feeling inspired.
Another highlight was the “I Am Somebody” training, which focused on race and privilege. It allowed our diverse group an opportunity to share experiences about how race and racism has shaped or affected our own lives. It was very revealing to see how society, because of institutionalized racism, has placed people at different starting points and situations in life. This training was very important because race is so seldom discussed in a conscious or intentional way in our society. But as organizers, who believe in equality and justice, it is something we must be aware of. We used our discussion of race to jump into a discussion about what kind of union we want UNITE HERE to be and how we should act on our principals. I left the room feeling more aware and more connected to everyone else who I had undergone the experience with.”
– Stephen, Summer Organizer, DC Local 23