Sunday, October 5, 2008

God Bless America: AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka on Racism and Obama


When you blog, you often scour other blogs for noteworthy bits to post, from video to editorials. Every once and a while, you come across something that is so moving, so important, that you want the world to see. This video, recorded a couple months ago during the Democratic primaries, is exactly that. In it, the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka gives what can only be described as a sermon against racism in America. And it's as beautiful and eloquent as anything Hollywood or even the Obama campaign could have scripted.

Trumka says it plainly from the top of his speech: There is only one really bad reason for any worker, any union worker, to vote against Barack Obama. And that's because he's not white. Slowly, the large audience of blue collar men and women of all stripes rise to their feet in a long ovation for the impassioned words of the burly Trumka. The sight of so many working class whites, alongside browns and blacks, standing in solidarity to acknowledge the monumental words they were hearing, is emotional to watch.

Yes, the unions and Democrats have a symbiotic bond, but only the most cynical Republican operative could reduce this to insincere pandering (cue Anne Coulter). Trumka risked alienating thousands of union workers with his preaching from the labor pulpit. And he didn't limit his words to simple economics, calling racism evil and recounting the insidious pain it's caused the country. It reminded me of Obama's Philadelphia speech with its balance and introspection.

The world needs more moments of clarity like this one. Hopefully Trumka's vast union audience serve as both witnesses to—and more importantly, advocates of—what they heard in that rousing speech. Obama needs them behind him to win those states, counties and neighborhoods where racism still flourishes, sometimes openly. Events like this reaffirm my hope that the stubborn undercurrent of bigotry will continue to cede to moral action. Sometimes it just takes the words of a bold person in an unlikely setting to get people to their feet and doing the right thing. Thank you, Mr. Trumka.

Originally spotted on the Huffington Post

4 comments:

Smitty said...

Respectfully,

Barack Obama camp needs to contact Ruchard Trumka....

Smitty said...

Richard Trumka.....

Anonymous said...

Goodness. Dynamite speech. It's something to see those kinds of white roughnecks showing such fire for Obama.

thuystyle@mac.com said...

thank you for posting this ray. it gave me goosebumps. and thanks to trumka for showing his sincerity in a subject that is usually tap danced around.