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News :: DNC : Education : Environment : Gender : GLBT/Queer : Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Media : Organizing : Politics : Race : Social Welfare : Technology
Never Give Up, Never Surrender: The Social Movement that Was and Is
03 Nov 2004
Last night I followed a small group of members from United for Peace with Justice (UFPJ) into the growing crowd of Kerry supporters stationed at Copley Square waiting for the election results. They were nervous about how they would be received and a bit disappointed for the low turnout of protesters. Yet no one in the Kerry crowd seemed to reject their presence, instead taking plenty of “No More Wars” signs with them as if waiting for action if Kerry won.
Last night I followed a small group of members from United for Peace with Justice (UFPJ) into the growing crowd of Kerry supporters stationed at Copley Square waiting for the election results. They were nervous about how they would be received and a bit disappointed for the low turnout of protesters. Yet no one in the Kerry crowd seemed to reject their presence, instead taking plenty of “No More Wars” signs with them as if waiting for action if Kerry won. Meanwhile, Kerry associates and rally-tickets holders stood far behind a set of fences so thick and tightly secured that they might have as well been waving their signs from a television set.

“If Bush wins, you can expect segments of the movement to go into a psychological funk. If Kerry wins you would expect certain segments of the movement will go into unwarranted fits of ecstasy. You would expect that ‘free at last’ kind of thing,” said Gary Hicks, member of UFPJ’s Coordinating Committee. He shared the fear that many activists in the anti-war and social justice movement had: if Kerry wins the issues at stake will be abandoned. Yet the prospect of Bush winning the election is a hard pill to swallow.

“If Bush wins people are going to be really demoralized,” Faisal Chaudhry, a member of the Cambridge Community Group. He also said, however, that the social justice movement is something that has been brewing for the past 12 years, due to the neoliberal policies introduced in the 90s. “Bush getting elected again might be some kind of plug to keep organizing,” he said.

Kerry’s support could be the discernment people want to make between Democrats and Republicans, but what most activists really want is change. Dean and Nader supporters knew what was at stake: a greater consciousness towards the issues that go beyond elections and pre-fabricated speeches. They seem to want to foster change with an urgency that began with the abolition of slavery, the labor movement, the right of women to vote.

“The African American problems can’t be solved through politics,” said Kevin Douglass, an independent Kerry-paraphernalia vendor who has followed Kerry’s campaign since the start of the summer. “It has to be solved through grassroots, compassion, understanding, and tolerance.” Kevin said that the anti-globalization movement seemed out of tune with the basic needs of African Americans, but he also said both groups lacked a point of reference to really understand each other and come together.

“A lot of that initiative is in our hands,” said Duncan McFarland holding an anti-war sign, “The most important thing is that the social movement keeps building no matter who gets elected.”

The Bush administration has if anything brought the social movement together in its endeavor to empower the voiceless, to expand coalitions among the hopeful, deriding the cynics in the process. In the end, the movement is a struggle for ideology, a different vision for the future, a stand for social and economic justice with peace. After all, whoever is elected, the issues at hand remain. As a small DontJustVote sticker on the window of a metro train on the way home reminded me, “Because our dreams will never fit in their ballot boxes.”



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“What’s Next After the Elections”
United for Justice with Peace will have a conversation about keeping the momentum going and moving forward together. Sunday, November 7, 2 pm. Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston Street, Copley Square.

This work is in the public domain