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We need a huge movement in America to reclaim democracy and make our economy work for everyone.

But building movements means changing minds, hearts, and lives.

As a way to do that, the Tennessee labor movement challenges young people to write an essay about the value of America’s unions with a prize of a college scholarship.

I’m from Tennessee and I’ve been very fortunate to spend a fair amount of time working in that great state. Just a few months ago I had the privilege of speaking at an organizing conference in Nashville.

In the audience was a great young man I’ve since come to know named Bradley Emery. After the speech he wrote his essay and won the scholarship.

When Bradley won his scholarship he gave his own speech. Bradley’s great Dad Bobby Emery just sent me a note about Bradley’s speech:

“He thanked several people for their guidance and direction on writing his paper and went on to mention you, and I will quote him. ‘This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the great labor people I grew up around, and a lot of you in this room, but I want to take this opportunity to thank a great labor leader by the name of Stewart Acuff for inspiring me to write what I did. I had been struggling with what I wanted to write until I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Acuff address an IBEW conference in Nashville back in February.’ Thanks again for helping Bradley and for all you do for our labor movement.”

Every word that comes out of our mouths publicly, every word we write matters–if we are to build movement.

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