On Friday, May 1, 2015 I went to the May Day march in San Jose for worker and immigrant rights. It was a fun day. I took half a day off of work and drove straight to San Jose. I first went to San Jose State University to see the memorials to the 1968 Olympians who did the Black Power salute and to the United Farm Workers. Then I walked to the starting point of the march and listened to speeches and took photos of various activists who were attending.
I really enjoy taking photos of protests and rallies. I would ask the person if I may take a photo, then ask why that person is participating in the march. I often get into these informative conversations where I learn about local issues. One man talked to me about the rising rents in Redwood City and how affordable homes were disappearing in the area. A teenager told me about a radical grassroots youth group that is focused on the lack of access to higher education for many poor youths due to escalating tuition costs.
I briefly met a group of Filipino American activists who are involved in immigration and workers rights issues. I had a thrill meeting them, but I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to them, as they were meeting with different groups.
I had a nice conversation with three ladies who are members of the Raging Grannies. I thanked them for all the good work that the Raging Grannies have done in fighting the good fight, and I mentioned that I have a documentary of the group. They thanked me and talked to me about some of the songs that they were going to sing for the rally.
Workers issues and immigrant issues were the main topics of the speakers before the march. One of the issues that was stressed was fighting for DACA and for a just immigration reform law that would help the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country. Many of the speakers voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and they talked about the recent death of Freddie Gray.
For me the best speaker was a Muslim woman who has participated in civil rights protests in San Jose for 20 years. She talked about how we should fight for the rights of every group, not just for the rights of the particular group you belong to. Hispanics should fight for the rights of African Americans and Filipinos, men should fight for the rights of women, workers should fight for the rights of immigrants. Only when all these groups are in solidarity will they be able to win their fights for economic and social justice.
This reminds me of something that radical poet Amiri Baraka once said. When asked if he supported LGBT rights, Baraka said of course he did. He explained: If you don’t fight for other people’s rights, why should they fight for yours?
Here is a youtube video I made with photos of the San Jose May Day March for 2015