April 4 became a National Day of Action as community vigils, teach-ins, and public rallies across the U.S. protested economic injustice for working class citizens.
While commemorating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, organizers and unions across the nations used the significance of the day to rally for better working conditions and livelihoods.
University of California, Santa Barbara students, workers and faculty, along with Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and County Board of Supervisor Salud Carbajal, rallied at the base of Storke Tower on-campus at noon protesting recent attacks on California public employee collective bargaining rights.
Banners proclaiming “We are One” and “Somos Uno” greeted Mayor Schneider as she took center stage, urging audience members that now more than ever, solidarity is important amidst the budget crisis facing California.
“We need to work together to figure out how to do more with less,” Schneider said. “We’re all in this together, so legislators need to stop pitting us against each other.”
Carbajal followed by providing a social commentary on the current working man’s conditions throughout the state.
“Isn’t it crazy that in the year 2011 it’s radical to want fair wages?” exclaimed Carbajal. “If that’s considered radical then I don’t know what isn’t.”
Carbajal also encourages rally members to continue standing together and supporting workers as well as their families.
“Remember, the way for everyone to be the loudest is at the ballot box,” Carbajal concluded. “So get out the vote UCSB!”
UCSB Student organizer Sophia Armen was intent on leaving protestors with a sense of urgency regarding the current fight for retaining collective bargaining rights in California and funding for higher education.
“As of March 30, 2011 Governor Brown has given up on public education,” Armen proclaimed. “We are now looking at a $1 billion cut to the UC system, so we are standing with people who, without them, we couldn’t go to school.”
Quinn Nguyen, a fourth year Political Science and Global Studies major at UCSB who helped organize the rally, considered April 4 not just a call to action but a day of remembrance.
“We commemorate the leaders of past movements while recognizing the need to be the leaders for our own movement,” explained Nguyen. “We must disrupt business as usual.”