In September 2019, a group of “All Saintsers” boarded buses to participate in our first action with United Power for Action and Justice – a meeting with our new mayor at that time, Lori Lightfoot – at DRW College Prep in North Lawndale. I remember the excitement of that day, the crowd of over 1,000 people gathered from all over the city, the terrific music, and the sense of united purpose we had. At the same time, I remember wondering what would happen next? Would progress be made? Would commitments made about home ownership for working families and more crisis stabilization units for persons struggling with mental illness come to pass? I wasn’t sure, but I did know that it was vital for All Saints to stand with our neighbors throughout our city and fight for justice and equity.
Fast forward four years. After a pandemic,a racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd, the All Saints Greenlining Campaign, and leadership transitions both at All Saints and in our city, we continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners in North Lawndale, Grand Crossing, Back of the Yards, Roseland, and other Chicago neighborhoods calling to reclaim the soul of Chicago by investing in communities that have long suffered from disinvestment, redlining, violence, and struggling schools. There is still much work to be done and the work can be slow and frustrating. The community organizing principle that you have to be in this work for the long term rings very true.
What struck me last Sunday as over 900 people gathered at St. Rita of Cascia church on the southwest side were the relationships forged over the past four years. All Saints isn’t just a member paying yearly dues; we show up; we are known. Our leaders participate in actions large and small. We ask how we can help. Leaders from other organizations are no longer just names, but friends and colleagues. In building relationship, we build our power; we build a movement rooted in love, a love that I believe can transform our city. That love, that power, and that unity were on full display last Sunday as we cheered and clapped and also asked our new Mayor to support the reclaiming work of United Power concretely with the release of vacant lots and funds for their remediation. While the Mayor’s “yes” was not as vigorous as we had hoped, he agreed to meet again in 6 months; he saw the extraordinary diversity of those gathered, and he witnessed our commitment to getting it done.
Our work continues and I am so grateful for the leadership of Barbara Manley and the commitment of so many of you who keep showing up. When we show up with our neighbors from all sides of our city, we participate in something rarely seen in these fractious, divided times – people united across race, ethnicity, age, income, and neighborhood – knowing that our fate as a people, as a city – depends on all of us united in power for action and justice.
All my best,