Chicago: Bernie joins Brandon for jobs, healthcare and justice
Chicago, IL – On Thursday, March 30 Brandon Johnson and Bernie Sanders held a joint “Chicago for All of Us” rally at the Credit Union 1 Arena, drawing a crowd of more than 4000 supporters. The event comes after Sanders’ endorsement of Johnson for the April 4 mayoral runoff election. The event included speeches from Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa; Representatives Jonathan Jackson and Delia Ramirez; president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten; Martin Luther King III, and Senator Bernie Sanders.
The event brought together progressive activists, union members and students from the nearby University of Illinois Chicago. The Johnson campaign is an example of the sort of rainbow coalition Chicago hasn’t seen since the Harold Washington campaign of the 1980s, and the crowd showed it. An integral part of the rainbow politics of the 1980s, Reverend Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist and leader of the Rainbow-PUSH coalition was also present.
Senator Sanders spoke on the connection between the movement and the Johnson campaign, stating, “He understands what you and I understand: that racism and bigotry are all about the ruling class trying to divide us and what we are about is bringing our people together to fight for a city, fight for a nation that works for all of us not just the few.”
The arena was filled to the brim with whites, Blacks, Latinos and Asians united to fight the reactionary and corporate backed Paul Vallas campaign and build the people’s movements.
Representative Ramirez praised the diverse nature of the crowd and its representative strength of the people’s movement in Chicago. She shared advice from her mother: “Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien ere” (“Tell me who you are with and I’ll tell you who you are”).
On the stage, students from the Little Village Lawndale Highschool Fightback Organization stood behind the speakers. Earlier that same day the students had led a walkout of hundreds of mostly Black and Latino students to denounce Paul Vallas and his attacks on public education while he was in office as the superintendent of Chicago Public schools. These included refusing to open Little Village Lawndale High even after parents from the community went on a 19-day hunger strike to demand a high school in their community.
Representative Jackson contrasted this shameful record with Johnson’s experience as a former public school teacher and member of the Chicago Teachers Union, saying Johnson is, “A man who starts his career going into a classroom on behalf of the children will no doubt end his career working for the elevation of every human life.”
Finally, Brandon Johnson took the stage to thunderous applause. He spoke against the reactionary attacks on his campaign by stating: “They have tried to make us feel bad because we believe in collective bargaining and unionism, let me make this clear: the last time I checked Chicago is a union town. And if you are an enemy of labor, you are an enemy of the people!”
Throughout the night the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. was invoked, especially by Rev. King’s son who reminded the crowd that election day on April 4 would mark the 55th anniversary of his father’s assassination. King III highlighted the historical significance of the current mayoral election for Chicago, especially as it relates to housing, an area his father led key struggles in. King III recognized that the movement backing Johnson worked in the same spirit as his father. “Johnson is the one to make the dream real for everyone. To have a decent quality of life, a decent job, to have healthcare and to have justice.”
On April 4 Chicagoans will go to the polls with a real choice. On the one hand, of a progressive supported by a coalition of working and oppressed people, opening the door for the people’s movements to win real lasting victories. On the other a reactionary corporate-backed Republican who would put those same movements on the defensive and put forward a program for privatization and a racist police crackdown.