Call to action in Florida

Tom Murphy 1143


Among those at the first Orlando Labor Seminar on April 11 are (seated) Retired Teachers Chapter Leader Tom Murphy and Congresswoman Corrine Brown, and (standing) RTC Florida Coordinator of Sections and Services Ken Goodfriend and Orlando Section Coordinator Donesa Jackson.

Donesa Jackson, our section coordinator in Orlando, Fla., hosted the first Orlando Labor Seminar, a call to action that rallied more than 100 union leaders, community organizations, clergy, retiree groups and educators on April 11 to strengthen and affirm their commitment to support progressive solutions to the problems that face the country.

It reminded me of the campaign visit she put together for Michael Mulgrew in 2012 that helped put Florida in the victory column for President Obama. The I-4 Corridor running diagonally across Florida is a swing district and whichever way it goes in a close election so, generally, goes the state.

In her opening remarks, Jackson linked both the past and present progressive labor agenda to the ideals expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution, stressing, “We the people,” the first three words of that historic document and asking, “What is it that we the people need to do?”

Her answer was the very heart of the seminar: “We need to be informed about the issues causing the problems so we can work together to find the best solutions.”

Jackson posed six questions:

  1. Are we striving for a more perfect union if we have leaders who create division instead of unity?
  2. Is there justice when laws suppress the voting rights of millions of Americans?
  3. Are national leaders working to establish peace and tranquility among state governments?
  4. Are our representatives providing for our common defense if they do not unite in purpose with the president?
  5. Is every state and every citizen benefiting from what the government can provide, such as jobs and health care under the Affordable Health Care act?
  6. Are the blessings of liberty and the freedoms that we the people enjoy secure for us as well as future generations?

“If the Constitution of the Unites States is going to be upheld and enforced,” she noted, “we the people have a lot of work to do.”

Jackson paraphrased and updated a quote from Lord Henry Peter Brougham: “Voter education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.”

Congresswoman Corrine Brown, the keynote speaker, brought important news from Washington about the state of Florida’s politics and what we need to do to advance the progressive labor agenda. She also spoke about the growing suppression of voting rights and cited her redistricting challenge 20 years that resulted in opening up at least three Florida congressional districts to minority representation.

Bill Cowles, the election supervisor for Orange County, announced that he has eased many of the voting rights restrictions including early voting on the weekend prior to the election.

Jackson ended on an up note: “Let’s get to work!”

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