Rumors of history’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Spring 2006 has blossomed with millions of workers and students in the streets in London, Paris, Athens and Los Angeles defending the rights of workers and youth. It’s history in the making, as the people flex their marching muscles. And it’s only mid-April. The size and unity of the people’s anger at the “free market” pro-corporate assault by governments on these continents keeps growing.
Here in the U.S., the immigrant rights movement is expanding in breadth and organization. While demonstrations in Chicago and Los Angles grabbed headlines, thousands of immigrant workers and supporters of immigrant rights marched in Nashville, Tenn., South Bend, Ind., and just about every city, town and hamlet in the country. The defiant message is consistent: “We are not criminals. We are hard working, dignified families who, like everyone else, are building a better life. We demand dignity and opportunity.” The demonstrations are militant, determined to win.
It is a remarkable statement by working-class people, straining under the pressures of over 25 years of assault by reactionary ideologues. A barrage of racist, divisive propaganda, provocation and even violence in the form of Minutemen vigilantes has been hurled at immigrant workers and their supporters, and still the demonstrations are larger and larger. Religious leaders have vowed to go to jail if that’s what it takes to provide aid and comfort to immigrants and their families. Their congregations are renting buses, raising money and rolling into Washington, Charlotte and Chicago. The banners of unions dot the massive street actions and their numbers are increasing. Students are packing up their books, heading out the school doors, not for a spring break, but to march in the streets of Las Vegas and Reno and New York and Los Angeles for democratic human rights. Television cameras are documenting courage born in the fight for justice.
“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” wrote the revolutionary British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. We welcome this spring of unity and struggle for human dignity, peace and workers’ rights.