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On the eve of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union, We Stand United presented a counter-argument in New York City.
“This event is called ‘The People’s State of the Union’ because we wanted to hear the people’s perspective on where our nation stands,” Mark Ruffalo said Monday from the Town Hall stage. “We wanted to hear from the people who are actually working really hard for the positive vision of America — marching, rallying, organizing, calling, writing, tweeting, Facebooking, educating and caring for our country. I know you haven’t been at a country club for half a year, huffing down cheeseburgers, sitting on a golden toilet waiting for someone to bring you a chocolate cake.”
The three-hour-long event also broached topics like women’s rights, immigration, climate change, civil rights, labor rights and more.
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio took the stage after Ruffalo. “Do you want to know what the state of the union is? The state of the union is: People are fired up. People are awake, alive and organized and activated all over this country. Before the age of Trump, for too many years, good people all over this country talked themselves out of their own power. But in this age, people are recognizing their power,” said DeBlasio.
Following the mayor, Kathy Najimy and Paola Mendoza, one of the organizers of the Women’s March, spoke on the topic of women’s rights. Najimy gave a shout-out to Gloria Steinem, who was in the audience, and the crowd rose to their feet. Mendoza spoke to the importance of building a movement out of the march.
Common spoke about civil rights and introduced DeJuana Thompson of Woke Vote, who helped get Sen. Doug Jones elected in Alabama. Andra Day performed “Rise Up,” and she and Common performed “Stand Up for Something” to a standing crowd.
John Leguizamo spoke of immigration. “Look at all of the colors here,” he said. “This is what my America looks like.” The actor then introduced Cristina Jimenez of United We Dream, who made a plea for the Dream Act and undocumented immigrants. “We and our families are undocumented, unafraid and here to stay,” she declared.
Rosie Perez, who touched on labor rights, noting that she is a “proud union member” of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity, introduced Henry Garrido of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Cynthia Nixon addressed the Trump-Russia investigation. When someone in the audience shouted, “Russians are people, too,” Nixon responded, “Yes, but Vladimir Putin I’m not sure is.”
The actress continued: “We must fight daily for our democracy, which requires more grunt work from all of us in this auditorium and all of you out there watching online. Because the truth is, our democracy is not just under attack from overseas. We also need to fight for it here at home against corporate interests and billionaires that hold our democracy in a ferocious death grip. And from elected officials who abuse the public trust. Democracy is like a muscle — if you don’t use it, you lose it.”
Fisher Stevens and Gina Gershon performed a song about climate change, and introduced Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Action.
Michael Moore took the podium next and urged the assembled to follow his 2018 to-do list, which includes: removing Republicans in the House and the Senate; asking the audience to run for office; and making sure nominees support impeachment. The final item: “Stop worrying about [Vice President Mike] Pence. First things first.”
Lastly, Amy Schumer introduced Wanda Sykes, who spoke about equality and justice before Rufus Wainwright took the stage to perform “Hallelujah.”
“Over the past year, the resistance has mobilized and successfully fought back against the Trump administration’s continued attacks on our democracy,” said Julia Walsh, campaign director of We Stand United. “Tonight’s ‘People’s State of the Union’ makes it clear that concerned citizens in this country are coming together to organize and become a powerful people’s voting movement in 2018. Together, we’re building a better future based on a foundation of equality, fairness, prosperity and environmental sustainability.”
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