On Dr. Martin Luther King Day, Americans celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King and the second inauguration of our first African-American President.
In many ways, President Obama reached back to the struggle of Dr. King and brought it forward to today by laying out a progressive agenda firmly and determinedly with conviction and commitment.
This was and is a president committed to equal rights and a commonsensical but clearly forward-looking agenda asking all of us to join him in a struggle for America to take a step forward in history, to overrun those who would hold us back and fight for the progress we so clearly need.
If it is true that the history of America, and indeed our species, is two steps forward and one step back but ultimately inexorably toward greater justice and freedom, yesterday’s inaugural speech was President Obama saying we are taking that step forward now in his second term and into the future.
The President also laid out an agenda that will take us and the Democratic Party strongly into the future. It was again a commonsensical agenda that Americans will someday see as facing global realities–equal rights and gay rights, immigration reform, refusing to go backwards on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and a nod toward income and wealth fairness.
Now it is up to us to organize a real struggle against America’s horrific income and wealth inequality and to lay down the foundation that can enable organized struggle into a nation-changing movement.
In several ways, the President’s speech was an acknowledgement of how difficult our ongoing struggle toward greater justice and freedom really is. When the President linked Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall he was saying we have a responsibility to continue our nation’s difficult movement to the future, and he was praising our forebears in struggle.
Prior to working for the UWUA, Stewart Acuff served as director of organizing for the AFL-CIO beginning in October, 2002. He has been a community organizer and union organizer for 25 years, except for a brief stint as a truck driver. In 1982, he joined the union movement as the organizing coordinator for the Service Employees International Union in Texas. In 1985, he became executive director of the Georgia State Employees Union/SEIU Local 1985. Acuff was elected president of the Atlanta Labor Council in 1991, where he served for nine years. In 2000, he joined the AFL-CIO staff as deputy director of field mobilization for the Midwest region. He served as deputy director of organizing from 2001 until becoming director. He is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank Advisory Council and the National Steering Committee of Jobs with Justice.
Posted January 23, 2013 at 8:00 am, in Allied Approaches