For three weeks now ACORN members have been aggressively pursuing a campaign to pass a bold, progressive Economic Recovery package in the new Congress. Working closely with allies like US Action, AFSCME, and the larger Americans United for Change coalition, ACORN members are taking a major role in building the coalition to pass this recovery package, and to create the context for it to be both stronger and more directly responsive to the situation facing working families across this country.
Because of reality facing America's low- and moderate-income communities, ACORN members and their neighborhoods function as the canaries in our nation's economic coal mine. In many cases, our members are experiencing severe economic dislocation, but, despite their personal hardship, they are organizing for a progressive response to the worsening economic situation facing the entire United States.
Back on December 18, ACORN offices around the country helped launch the new Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery Now (CJERN). These 18 late-December events were all coalition events, featuring a cross-section of speakers from the community organization, human services, environmental, labor, and elected-official sectors - we were proud, for example, to be joined by the mayors of St. Louis and Oakland on the 18th.
Significantly, these events show how progressives can build their own political capacity to fight collectively for this first crucial fight in the Obama era. As important as winning is the question of how we win and, further, whether or not the fight helps progressive increase our collective political capital in the process.
ACORN-convened events were held in the following cities on the 18th: Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, St. Louis, Columbus, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Little Rock, New Orleans, Lake Charles (LA), Oakland, Minneapolis, Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Jackson (MS), Bridgeport, and Wilmington (DE).
This week, ACORN offices are convening an additional twenty-one rallies and press conferences. MoveOn.org has contacted over 230,000 of it's members to participate, and AFSCME, Jobs with Justice, US Action, People for the American Way, among others, are encouraging their local affiliates to engage. The rallies are being held in the following cities: Denver, Little Rock, Raleigh, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Seattle, Tacoma (WA), Wilmington (DE), New Orleans, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Cincinnati, Columbus, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Paul, Baltimore, St. Louis, and Kansas City.
The St. Louis event, held Tuesday the 6th, was attended by at least 130 people, included representatives from 19 different organizations, and six Missouri elected officials. As a way of having folks take action on the issue, we organized a cell phone call-in to Missouri Senator Kit Bond's office, urging support for the stimulus package being assembled. Apparently Bond's staffers were seriously frustrated after just five minutes of calls.
You can read a story about Tuesday's Orlando rally here.
Subsequent to these mobilizations, both US Action and MoveOn are putting together further rounds of activity, in what has become a seamless, synchronized calendar of Economic Recovery campaign activity around the country. As the campaign progresses, the groups involved will be encouraging the participation of regular citizens through a variety of traditional and innovative methods and tactics, including mass action, grassroots lobbying, and promotion of the work through traditional and on-line media channels.
We at ACORN are looking forward to working with you on this issue and on campaigns to come as we move a progressive agenda to rebuild our communities and nation forward. Below are some stories from the opening of the campaign.
Media Coverage From Around the Country from the December 18th Events
The Washington Post described the effort: "Acknowledging the tough task ahead, a coalition of 20 liberal organizations and unions -- including the Sierra Club, AFSCME, the AFL-CIO and ACORN -- yesterday launched a $5 million grass-roots and public relations campaign to support the evolving package and avert a filibuster in the Senate."
The Orlando Sentinel wrote: "Labor groups and anti-poverty activists -- some wearing faux bandages to represent the nation's "injured" economy -- rallied today to urge Congress to support President-elect Barack Obama's recovery plan."
The Phoenix Business Journal reported: "The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters...are among groups launching a major lobbying push in favor of Obama's stimulus spending programs."
From the Oakland Tribune: ""We need a game-changing strategy," Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums said Thursday at City Hall. He was joined by Councilmember Desley Brooks (Eastmont-Seminary), Councilmember-elect Rebecca Kaplan, the Urban Strategies Council and ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. They gathered as a part of a national coalition to launch the "Jobs and Economic Recovery Now!" campaign."
And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported: "Mayor Francis Slay and other local officials and activists have a long wish list to pass along to President-elect Barack Obama. Think flood wall construction, traffic lights, bicycle greenways, northern riverfront development, business park additions and more. Members representing Missouri ProVote, ACORN and Jobs with Justice all stood at a press conference Thursday to urge quick action on Obama's economic stimulus proposal, with a possible price tag of $850 billion or more."