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  Jammed in yesterday with the thousands of others of people in Foley Square, I turned to look at the crowd all around. I felt an incredible burst of optimism. I turned to one friend and said, "looks like the revolution will happen before I die." We laughed. I hope people hold on to the optimism that was coursing around that plaza yesterday--despite all the challenges we will face in the days, months and years to come.

   I write this partly because I don't want to lose the great spirit and enthusiasm of yesterday that was marred by the violence and craziness ignited by the police.

    I feel optimistic because of the many unions members who came out.

    I feel optimistic when I read this quote from a brother who I have worked with in labor for a long time:

“The labor movement needs to tap into the energy and learn from them,” Mr. Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, said. “They are reaching a lot of people and exciting a lot of people that the labor movement has been struggling to reach for years.”

   I am optimistic even when I read this:

Despite questions about the protesters’ hostility to the authorities, many union leaders have decided to embrace Occupy Wall Street...

Some more traditionally conservative ones, like those in the construction trades, stayed away. [emphasis added]

   I am optimistic that it will be easy to remind a broad section of the labor movement how the modern labor movement was born: out of opposition to authority and mass protest, mass arrests and a lot of spilled blood.

    Like this:

  The 1936–1937 Flint Sit-Down Strike changed the United Automobile Workers (UAW) from a collection of isolated locals on the fringes of the industry into a major labor union and led to the unionization of the domestic United States automobile industry.
...The police attempted to enter the plant on January 11, 1937. The strikers inside the plant turned the fire hoses on the police while pelting them with car parts and other miscellany as members of the women's auxiliary broke windows in the plant to give strikers some relief from the tear gas the police were using against them. The police made several charges, but withdrew after six hours. The strikers dubbed this "The Battle of Bulls Run," a mocking reference to the police ("bulls").

   When blood was spilled for workers' justice:

Mattie Woodson tore off a piece of her dress and leaned down to wipe blood off the neck of Joe DeBlasio, desperately trying to save the life of the young demonstrator. It was too late. DeBlasio was dying. He lay in Miller Road in Dearborn, Michigan, just a few yards in front of the gigantic River Rouge complex of the Ford Motor Company. He had been shot when Dearborn police officers and thugs from Ford’s brutal “Service Department” opened fire on unarmed demonstrators. It was March 7, 1932. The protest which had originally been called “the Ford Hunger March” had just become a massacre.

DeBlasio was one of five people who died after being shot that day. Dozens of others were wounded. The Ford Hunger March took place in the midst of the Great Depression, just 28 months after the stock market crash of October 1929. The month of March 2008 marks 76 years since that massacre, but its effects can still be felt.

   I am not urging or advocating or hoping for violence. I only remind us that the labor movement was forged through very tough struggles--we should not find Occupy Wall Street odd or alien.

   I am optimistic because we just need to keep reminding each other of the history that built a movement.

   I feel optimistic because when I looked around at all the people in the march, I didn't recognize a lot of people. I saw people who I felt were, maybe a bit uncomfortably, marching for the first time--but they were there.

   I feel optimistic because of the growing number of people who understand and are willing to act and say: the system is broken.

   I even feel optimistic--and I know this may seem like turning lemons into lemonade--by the police reaction. I ran into a union organizer, long-time friend of mine last night. I told her that my sense was that the movement took off partly because of the first over-reaction by the police to the march near Union Square. She reminded me: the bosses are always our best organizers because they show people why they need a union--or change.

   I do not think being full of optimism is being ignorant of the challenges ahead.

   But, I like the optimism.
Labor in the Housem with thousands

Bankers broke it

Greed

The soup kitchen needs the money

Originally posted to Tasini on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 07:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Income Inequality Kos, Jobs Wages and Community Investment Working Group, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Optimism and hope are (11+ / 0-)

    powerful.

    Good diary.

    More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

    by TomP on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:00:51 AM PDT

  •  That old song (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coquiero, jfromga, allergywoman

    "look what's happenin' on the streets"

  •  Adding you to the Mothership in two locations (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DruidQueen, Tasini, allergywoman

    with on the ground Kossacks up top - permanent spot :)

    And with the new diaries for today.

    Do me a favor, if you know of any other Kossacks on the ground that I don't have in my list, please leave a note in the Mothership. All Occupations!

  •  Thanks for the diary. (7+ / 0-)

    And thanks for being there. I wish I could be.

    I just ordered a bunch of medical supplies (based on their needs page) and had it shipped from alice.com to Occupy Wall Street. My boyfriend is having some blankets and water bottles shipped there as well.

    Sent from Florida with love.

    The optimism out of Liberty Plaza and from all the other occupations is being felt across the country, even by those of us who can't directly take part in them due to job or time constraints, or simply the financial inability to go to New York ourselves (or all of the above, as in our case).

    Big thanks to everyone there. You speak for all of us.

  •  Labor and untrained protestors (5+ / 0-)

    can really compliment each other.  

    Labor needs a refresher in passion and earnestness, and new protestors need to learn from all the years of lessons that Labor has under it's belt.

    I am encouraged by this parnership, I think it speaks to a slowly brightening future.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:11:25 AM PDT

  •  I am hopeful too... that real (4+ / 0-)

    and meaningful change will come out of this movement... Including campaign finance reform and real banking reform.  Keep on fighting the good fight.

    Who knew how true the statement "The revolution will not be televised" was?!  It won't be televised because the it's not in the interest of corporate media.  Luckily technology gets us around that problem.

    Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:19:11 AM PDT

  •  I feel optimistic , too (5+ / 0-)

    This thing is growing because it has a huge natural base, and it is hitting the right notes and reaching people the right way.

    The intensity and spread of this reminds me of only one similar event in my experience: the reaction to the Nixon invasion of Cambodia in March of 1970 and the wave of protests that broke out among all, but especially among students at that time.

            There was the infamous massacre of 4 and a dozen wounded at Kent State in Ohio, and the murder of two more students at Orangeburg, South Carolina two days later.  Over eight hundred campuses went on strike or reacted with demonstrations that shut them down effectively.  Perhaps a thousand, some not recorded took actions.  Reagan then Governor in California had a premptive strike. He locked out students and faculty, closed campuses and sent students home so that teach ins and demonstrations and organizing couldn't take place.  Demanded the state schools and suggested private schools too, go on early summer break.

    When the natural spontaneous and passionate intensity wound down, and the shortcomings of the organinzing, many times adhoc and improvised, finally showed up in practice, the summer's hiatus slowed and stilled the movement.

             I remember feeling frustrated and bewildered and asking a veteran activist scholar with a global perspective why things just went back to where they were for the most part that following September?

          He told me the system, the economics and its vitality and resources were such that even though it was a failed model it could continue pushing its ideology and governance and actions and have enough support for another 30 years or so before the problems from within
    would create immense and intractable crises.

          I didn't like it, but he was right.  There were gimmicks, and fixes, like the military spending boom after the Soviet Union fell, and the Real estate bubble propped up by the Fed and the Treasury to give the US a few more years.  All the offshoring/outsourcing to arbitrage and cut wages added to the stresses and the internal collapse.

    Now the disaster affect 99% of us, even those who may be liquid, may have savings, but have no confidence in how those things will hold up.

    The vast majority of people have no confidence in this system and are in a speed learning course to navigate the intricacies and new world of direct action politics, the only politics they have actually understood and trusted in any manner since the great con job of the two parties partnering to hide as much as they can of the truth facing us.

    If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever, you're dreaming. *YUP!* h/t Hamden Rice

    by BeeDeeS on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:31:53 AM PDT

    •  I Hope to God They Learn What Had Worked So (5+ / 0-)

      breathtakingly well in their parents' and grandparents' time. No church, no markets, no philanthropy, no popular uprisings, nothing in human history ever created the huge comfortable middle class with education and advancement opportunity except 20th century liberalism, here and abroad.

      While there was much sweat and blood spilled in the streets and workplaces giving government the incentive to take those steps, and definitely we had not brought everyone into the American dream yet, the steps in the end were very specific laws and regulations made it happen. --Laws that we have been painstaking taking down over the entire living memory of half of all Americans.

      The people reached our economic high water mark before the Beatles broke up. We started sliding back within a decade; masked at first by families adding their women to the work force, and then by the 80's with the decades of unsustainable bubbles and busts.

      Billions have been spent to make the younger half of us believe things were never much better than today, that it all never even happened, that this is the best there can be.

      But it did happen. It's all in the history books. It's all there to be put back with cut and paste.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:43:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There is probably an innate human reaction (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sillia, allergywoman, ask, frandor55, coquiero

    from people who have benefitted from the pioneering of others once they reach a degree of security and stability, they forget how they got there, and instead of continuing to reach out to others to bring them along, they want to pull up the ladder and hang tight out of fear.

    Labor union members don't always remember people bled and died in the streets to get the rights that they have.  I think that could be said of younger members of any group.   That is why things like the tribute to Reverand Shuttlesworth, the reference in this diary, other diaries about the labor movement, women's right struggles, the Native American issue diaries that focus on the long and sometimes bloody struggles of people to get even a modicum of justice need to keep appearing and being spread.

    Very little is ever gained by serendipity, much is gained through the blood, sweat and tears of those who sacrificed because they believed in a better way.   I am as guilty as anyone of complacency, of believing that the gains of others couldn't all be lost in an incredibly short time if we stopped paying attention and fighting back.

    We have let the right wing noise machine distort and destroy so many of the noblest words we have.  Liberty and justice don't live on the right, we need to take those words back for the left.   OWS doesn't have a list of policy demands for wonks.   They demand basic principles in a democracy to have meaning again, freedom, liberty, justice, fairness, power to the governed not the few.  Those words are always uplifting, they always stir optimism.  We need to take them back.   We, the People.   We the People need to become a force to be reckoned with again.   OWS is the first step in a great journey.  

  •  Thanks for the positive outlook! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allergywoman, frandor55

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 08:56:06 AM PDT

  •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for your optimism.  It gives me hope to see the young people taking a lead in this movement.

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