Reflections from June 19
Send us your reflections! From ICIRR members:
1) Hi, my name is Mario Arturo Valles and this was my first first time participating in a march for immigration reform. I have observed such marches on TV and in person and always felt moved and shaken by the amount of energy in a peoples' shared voice. Once I actually started marching with the people, instead of merely observing, this energy consumed all my senses and I felt as though I could've marched for hours. My feet were sore but I just kept on walking. My clothes were soaked in sweat but I just didn't bother acknowledging it. My voice was hoarse but I couldn't stop yelling out on behalf of the people. After the march I asked a middle-aged Mexican man what he thought of the event. He said "i wish there were more people. I was at the march in chicago on May 1st, and compared to that, there were hardly any people here today." I understood what the man was saying and told him that yes maybe there could've been more people marching toward the White House today. But I'm reminded of a march I witnessed on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. That day there must've been only a couple hundred people marching but what struck me was how loud and passionate they were. The crowd was so loud that once they reached their destination, in front of the Illini Union (a central hub where both public and private events are held), that they managed to get the Chancellor, the chief executive officer of the university, Richard Herman to come out and answer some questions. It would be the equivalent of marching on the White House and getting President Bush to come out and answer some questions. So although our presence could've been a lot stronger on june 19th the fact is that our presence was strong enough to be felt in the first place. It was special, at least to me and my sisters, to have been a part of that. I'm grateful for having such a proud and strong voice at home in the form of my mother and father and for the hundreds of voices and souls that impacted my perspective on the issue while marching in Washington, D.C. Karla, Edith, Paul, Ana, Mehrad, Ricardo, Danielle, Susana, Conchita. These names may seem anonymous to all but to me they're the names of the people who helped me realize the importance of having a voice, an opinion and the obligation a social activist has to fight for a moral victory and to help our representatives, those few that represent so many, those few that wield so much power, realize that this world, this land is for all to share.
2) Going to Washington DC was wonderful experience for me. I had a chance to meet with elected officials and tell them about my problems. I believe that we have made a great impact on the Senators and Congressmen by telling our stories. I met with Mellisa Bean and I know now that elected official are the same people as anyone else – they do listen to us, they feel for us - at least some of the politicians.
On the way back, one of the kids on my bus said to the microphone that his mom is good. His mom started to cry and when i smiled to her she squeezed my hand vary hard – them I thought about my family who is in Poland and whom I haven’t seen for very long time; i started to think about my doughtier who is 3 now. I have understood at that moment that people coming from Poland have the same dreams and the same problems as people coming from Mexico or Brazil. We all fight for the same cause - immigration reform - we all fight for ourselves, but also we fight for other people. It was wonderful to see solidarity between people coming from different ethnics groups. I feel connected to the Latino community like never before. -- Rafal Jasiak