Miami, FL – On Thursday, a multi-ethnic and multilingual coalition of grassroots activists, organizations and labor unions gathered in Miami to announce the start of a statewide effort to educate, engage and mobilize communities on major issues. The coalition is a multi-year effort to build the real community power.
Assembled groups included leaders and activists from FLIC Votes, SEIU Florida, Organize NOW, New Florida Majority and Faith in Florida.
“We’re here because we have to be safe from the deportations and separations of families,” said Gihan Perera, executive director of New Florida Majority. “We are here because of the division and hate that permeates our elections. We’re here because of the inequality that faces our neighborhoods, our families, our workplaces. We’re here as a coalition to be the line between hate and love. We are here because we are working together in the streets and in our communities.”
Leaders spoke optimistically about fulfilling the promise of America by working towards economic, racial and immigrant justice. Organizers say that, ultimately, they hope that by engaging and informing the state’s diverse communities, they can increase civic participation and inspire people to get personally involved in issues that impact families on a state and local level.
“Florida has one of the largest income inequality gaps in America,” said Eric Brakken, executive director of SEIU Florida. “Our communities still live in poverty and some without proper health insurance, good paying jobs, workplace justice and access to capital. These are the issues that are making our communities live paycheck to paycheck. This campaign is about economic justice to bring our communities out of poverty.”
Maria Rodriguez, executive director of FLIC Votes, said, “We are part of a line of history of struggle for equality for civil and human rights. It’s been tragic to see the way that our communities are being not represented and torn apart. It’s a shame because, without our families, we don’t have healthy communities and we don’t have a healthy economy. We deserve the dignity and respect of our contributions and of our innate humanity. We are unified to build our power and we will continue growing this moment until our values of equality and equal opportunity are respected.”
Carla Hansack, a domestic worker, was among those who showed up, inspired to make a difference in the community on immigrant and economic justice. “I came to this country eight years ago,” she said. “I started working with a family in Miami Beach. I used to work long hours, from 13 to 16 hours a day, from sunup to sundown, for just $350. But I have learned that staying quiet does not help. I’m representing many other domestic workers, who can’t speak up because they are afraid. I’ve learned that if I speak up, it will help other people become empowered.
The individual organizations in the coalition have achieved significant victories on different fronts. Now they have decided to join together to amplify their unified voices. This campaign is about changing the narrative in Florida by engaging communities on a platform based on the issues around economic justice, racial justice and immigrant justice.