Worcester’s Immigrant Community Celebrates Historical Moment by Calling for Justice
On January 21, our city of Worcester responded once again to the call for Justice. It was time to celebrate a historical moment for our communities. A Black man, a man of faith, and community organizer had been pledged oath as the next president of the United States.
Worcester, the Heart of the Commonwealth, has a long history of responding to injustice here and elsewhere. We have expelled persecutors of African-Americans. We marry those in love, independent of their sexual preference. We continue demonstrating against violence and military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also show solidarity to undocumented families in our hometown, a City of Immigrants.
This time, city residents, the heart of Worcester, responded with a huge crowd in the chambers of the City of Council. The call was from the Worcester Immigrant Coalition, a grassroots organization that advocates for immigrant rights in the city. The event in the chambers of the City Council was a huge success as many of us had to occupy also the empty space reserved to the city councilors. Unfortunately, none of the city councilors witnessed this great demonstration of civic awareness.
“This past January 21, the city of Worcester joined the march of Washington in solidarity and defense of immigrant rights to remind President Obama about his promise of campaign to work for a deep and just immigration reform. In an event organized by the Worcester Immigrant Coalition, representatives of different sectors of our community offered thoughtful analysis. We listened to commoving and hopeful speeches of our beautiful cultural diversity. The speeches all converged to the point that the deliberated campaign of criminalization that ICE and the mainstream media have been realizing against our immigrant community have to stop now and the urgent need of a humane and just immigration reform. The event happened with great success and the most important point to highlight is the response to our call to other city residents to participate in it. It is clear probe that our community — beyond the superficial divisions - has a great awareness, capacity and commitment to act together against the injustice and abuse. Worcester is neither passive nor indifferent to the difficulties that our brothers are facing whatever it would be.
Alejandra, member of Worcester Immigrant Coalition
The Worcester Immigrant Coalition prompted this meeting to address the key issues we are facing today in the midst of the financial crisis. The coalition also released a document with 8 action points and recommendations to the City (listed below), entitled “Dignity for All Residents of Worcester”
1. Support local and national efforts to stop the raids and criminalization of the immigrant community
2. Support for a Human and Just Immigration System Reform that honors the Human Rights of Immigrant Families
3. Support leadership development of African-Americans, Immigrants and Native Americans and address the issues of Racial and Ethnical Disparities in the Public Sector in Worcester.
4. Support the work of local organizations to end Homelessness in Worcester.
5. Support to public pools, parks and community gardens.
6. Creation of jobs in Worcester through the development of cooperative businesses and more support to local-owned businesses.
7. Support youth education
8. Support the return of the troops and end the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
The event’ speakers were young residents, members of the local faith community, labor representatives, LGBT groups, African-Americans and affordable housing advocates. Charlotte, a member of Real Solutions, spoke about the impact of foreclosures on immigrant communities. Kombi, a Jamaican immigrant and gay rights activist, mentioned that the necessity to include the plight of LGBT immigrant community. “In my home country, I will need protection to speak in public as a gay man. I am thankful for this opportunity to speak here.” Wilson, an immigrant from Kenya and a Holy Cross College graduate, talked about how the African immigrant community is proud of the election of Barack Obama. In the same line, he also pointed out that “we will hold our brother accountable, because we want a humane and just immigrant reform“. As other speakers had pointed out, Wilson stated that we need to put to an end the lies and rumors that immigrants are invading, stealing jobs and spreading diseases in the United States.
The event also had the presence of the American Civil Liberties Union, SEIU Local 615, and other grassroots organizations.
“The event was a great event as it brought many groups together to push for immigration reform under Obama’s administration. Many people from the African, Muslim, Armenian and Latino communities gathered together for one cause that they are all immigrants who come to the United States are here to contribute to its society as hard working people. We must remember that from this event we are letting Worcester know that this is a community of immigrants and still continues to be up to this day.”
Widmark, member of Worcester Immigrant Coalition
Indeed. The event was a huge success and it has in fact re-energized city residents to stand up for Justice in our local community. Worcester Immigrant Coalition is now working with its allies and community members to organize another major event. This time the call is to celebrate and demonstrate for immigrant rights during the Immigrant’s Day in May 1st. Stay tuned.
In honor to all our ancestors who paved the way to the election of President Barack Obama:
Dignity for All!
Worcester Immigrant Coalition