San Fran March
ckates at mosquito.com
Sat Apr 27 15:42:26 MDT 1996
50,000 march in S.F. against the ultra-right
by Marilyn Bechtel
This article was reprinted from the April 20, 1996 issue of the People's
Weekly World. For subscription information see below. All rights reserved -
may be used with PWW credits.
SAN FRANCISCO - "Unity" and "action" were the watchwords April 14 as an
estimated 50,000 demonstrators thronged the streets from Fort Mason Park to
Crissy Field for the National Organization for Women's "Fight the Right"
Speaker after speaker, and many in the predominantly young, multi-racial,
multi- national crowd, expressed confidence that a vigorous grassroots
campaign can beat the ultra-right Republicans in November. Affirmative
action headed the demands.
Following the vicious beating of two immigrant workers in Riverside, Calif.
and the deaths of others in a Border Patrol car chase, equal rights for all
immigrants and the fightback against police brutality drew major attention.
Workers' rights, choice and the struggle against all forms of racial,
national and gender discrimination were prominent themes.
Marchers carried banners and signs from many organizations and regions of
the country. Many NOW affiliates participated, while Californians for
Affirmative Action, Californians for Justice and associated groups had a
large presence. Giant puppets, stilt walkers and marching bands added a
festive note. Labor organizations marching included the San Francisco Labor
Council, the auto workers, longshore and warehouse workers, teachers,
service workers and others. Among more than 600 endorsers nationwide were
the national AFL-CIO and a dozen state federations.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd that "the people rising up" won
abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, labor rights and civil rights.
"Affirmative action is not a Black issue, and it's not a minority issue,"
he said. "We are now a majority ... We can send [Gov. Pete] Wilson back to
private life; we can send Dole ... back to Kansas."
"Today is a day of fun, but from now on, every single day until Election
Day has to be a day of work," said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). "You must
keep the message in front of everyone you know, that we must have the most
schools in this country, not the most prisons ... health care for all
Americans, not deep cuts in Medicare and Medicaid."
"We have a message for Gov. Wilson and for Bob Dole," said Farm Workers
union leader Dolores Huerta. "You have brought us together. We are going to
take the message that we are not going to accept your lies, to every home
NOW President Patricia Ireland said, "We do have common enemies, they are
using common tactics, and we share a struggle ... Our futures and our
families' futures are on the line." She called on marchers to "stand
together and stand strong" against the scapegoating of immigrants, welfare
recipients and beneficiaries of affirmative action.
Lillian Galedo of Asian Pacific Americans for Affirmative Action and
Filipinos for Affirmative Action, told the World those organizations
marched because "we are upset by the overwhelming portrayal of Asian
Americans as opposed to affirmative action" when, in fact, they support and
benefit from such programs. Galedo pointed out that attacks on affirmative
action help create a climate for attacks and discrimination against
immigrants of color.
Emphasizing his union's long-time backing for affirmative action, Lew
Gibbon of ILWU Local 6 said other issues concerning his union are
ultra-right efforts to scuttle the National Labor Relations Board, and the
drive for "right-to- work" laws which he said give employers "the right to
pay the lowest wages."
Antonio Perez and Bonnie Bone of East Bay Californians for Affirmative
Action called the march a "kick-off" for activities in that area. Two years
ago, anti-immigrant Proposition 187 caught people unaware, Perez said, "but
now, because we understand that the CCRI affects us all, we have a good
chance to defeat it." The misnamed Citizens Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI)
is a right-wing ballot initiative to destroy affirmative action.
A lively Northern California Communist Party/Young Communist League
contingent of some 50 marchers, with banners and signs emphasizing
immigrant rights, affirmative action, public works jobs and other
working-class demands, drew applause from onlookers and attracted
participants along the way. Over 20 new members joined the two
organizations at the Party's table at Crissy Field.
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