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And Still We Rise!

On July 8, 2016 over 1,600 grassroots leaders, organizers, policy makers and artists representing more than 40 people’s organizations from around the country, came together in Pittsburgh for CPD's first-ever People’s Convention. 

We came together as people deeply committed to bending the arc of history towards justice together: workers standing up for fair wages, Black and Latino youth fighting for dignity, immigrant parents working to keep our families together, working class people reclaiming our democracy and our planet, and demanding an economy that works for all of us. The convention took place in the context of deep danger for our country and our communities. The painful killing of two Black fathers, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, highlighted the urgency to build transformative power together.

At the convention we drew inspiration and guidance from the words of poet Maya Angelou, who wrote in her poem “And Still I Rise” (some excerpts below):

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise

I rise
I rise
I rise

In Pittsburgh we reminded each other that we are a community, that we have each other’s back, that we love each other.

Over two days, we strategized together, we mourned together, we marched together, we danced together. And at the end of the convention, we went home stronger, smarter, more connected, and better positioned to continue our struggle in our states, and to transform this country together. And so, we rise!

We took to the streets together

On the first day of the convention 2,000 people joined the “Still We Rise” march through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh, to protest the continued killings of black people at the hands of police, to decry the immigration policies that continue to tear immigrant families apart, and to elevate the fights for worker justice and climate justice in Pittsburgh and around the country.

On Saturday, hundreds of People’s Convention participants together with members of Local Progress, took to the streets again in support an action organized by the local #BlackLivesMatter chapter in Pittsburgh to protest the most recent killings of black men at the hands of police.

We learned from each other and strategized together

The program included close to 40 workshops and strategy sessions led by grassroots leaders and organizers from CPD partner organizations as well as allies. During these sessions we learned about each other’s campaigns, built new skills, and began the process of outlining long-term visions for our collective work on economic, climate, gender and racial justice.

We want to thank our allies from the Labor Institute, Partnership for Working Families, Make It Work!, Opportunity Agenda, Color of Change, Gamechanger Labs, DEMOS, Urban Youth Collaborative, New Voice Pittsburgh, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Education Rights Network, Pittsburgh Interfaith Network, PIIN, Childcare and Early Learning Action Hub, Flint Rising and Flint Democracy Defense League, and Amalgamated Bank.

We would also like to thank the allies that led workshops and strategy sessions, including:
Jamala Rogers, author of “Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion”
David Rolf, president of SEIU 775, and author of “The Fight for $15: The Right Wage for a Working America”
Nick Licata, long-time city council member in Seattle, co-founder of Local Progress, and author of “Becoming a Citizen Activist: Stories, Strategies and Advice for Changing Our World”.

We committed to stand up for each other and build a long term community of love and action

We gathered in Pittsburgh to launch a new community of people committed to leaving a legacy defined by love. We marked this by ratifying a statement of unity “Still We Rise”, which defines who we are, what we value, and what we fight for. This statement will help guide the work of this community moving forward.

We want to thank the amazing grassroots leaders and organizers of One Pittsburgh and Action United, who hosted the People’s Convention, and served as a model of how this new community can add strength to the struggles of people in cities across the country.  

We also want to thank our friends from Sankofa and the outstanding movement artists who helped make the convention a space that lifted up the hope, creativity and resiliency of our communities:

EmilyNick and the pittsburgh art collective
W. Kamau Bell
Jasiri X
Rebel Diaz
Climbing PoeTree
Carolyn Malachi
Tef Poe
Las Cafeteras

We drew inspiration from each other

We want to thank the amazing grassroots leaders and organizers from CPD partner organizations, and our allies from labor and community organizations, who shared their stories, their ideas and their visions for justice, so that we could come out of the convention with an inter-connected and powerful pathway for our work to transform this country.

We want to extend a special thank you to the movement allies that joined the plenaries:

Reverend William Barber II, NAACP
US Congressman Keith Ellison
Bishop Dwayne Royster, PICO Network
Bob Master, Communication Workers of America
Cristina Jimenez, United We Dream
Fred Redmond, United Steelworkers
Gabe Morgan and Steve Kelley, SEIU 32BJ
John Avalos, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and chair of Local Progress
Linda Sarsour, MPower
Natasha Capers, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
Nelini Stamp, Working Families Organization
Neil Bisno, SEIU
Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO

And Still We Rise!

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