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2012 National Conference: Closing Plenary and Charge

Closing Our Courage and Action Gaps All Across Our Land and Action Charge

We don’t have to become heroes overnight, just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

One day when brilliant but illiterate slave woman Sojourner Truth was making an impassioned speech against slavery at a time when its end seemed impossible, she was heckled by a White man in the audience who shouted: old slave woman, I don’t care anymore about your anti-slavery talk than for a flea bite. She snapped back, that’s alright, the Lord willing, I’ll keep you scratching.

In this session, we will celebrate and hear from “ordinary” heroines and heroes who changed our nation.

Ruby Bridges was only six years old when she walked through howling White mobs day after day to get a better education in New Orleans. Not only did she walk daily to her classroom where she was the only Black child for a year, she prayed for her hecklers and opponents.

In the 1960s, Dolores Huerta, mother of 11 children, joined Cesar Chavez to mobilize farmworkers to challenge unjust working conditions. Through boycotts, strikes, fasting, prayer and great personal sacrifice, they forced the California grape industry to sign collective bargaining agreements with the United Farm Workers in 1970.

Courageous Dream Act students risked deportation so that they can have the right to a college education and to live and work with dignity in the country that is their home. These efforts have provoked a major ictory from the Obama Administration towards fulfilling their goal.

Each of these heroes and heroines shows us how one, a few, or a small group of people can make a tremendous difference through committed courageous and persistent action. Recognize your own power to fight for justice and dignity for children and the poor. Be encouraged as you go home to know that each and every one of you in ways, small and large, can build the transforming movement our children and nation desperately needs to move forward.

Closing Action Charge:

  • Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children’s Defense Fund

 

When adults hesitate, the youth sometimes take up the fight for justice and set an example for all of us. Carlos Amador, project coordinator for the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor center, refused to wait for justice – he steadied himself to fight. Here, he tells a crowd of 3,000 justice advocates during the Closing Plenary and Call to Action Charge of the CDF’s 2012 National Conference exactly what it means to be courageous in the face of adversity. He mobilized a movement of Dream Act students nationwide that got the attention of the Obama administration and pushed to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrant youth across the country. He organizes so undocumented students can get an education and stay in the country they call home. This is an instructive tool to build your action plans around. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Carlos Amador is the project coordinator of the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center, an active member of Dream Team Los Angeles, and a co-chair of the United We Dream Network board. He emigrated with his family from Mexico in 1999 at age 14. He lived in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant for almost thirteen years until recently when he received conditional permanent residency. After high school, Amador continued on with his college career though he faced many obstacles and struggles as an undocumented student. Amador has been involved in the undocumented immigrant youth movement through several organizations and has participated in local, state and national campaigns. Most notably, he was part of the successful campaign to pressure President Obama to stop deportations and grant Deferred Action for undocumented youth. In June 2011, he graduated with his Masters of Social Welfare from the University of California, Los Angeles.


 

Catherine Eusebio knows the sweetness of America freedom and the bitter taste of fear every undocumented immigrant feels when stopped by police. Eusebio, leader of the undocumented Asian youth organization ASPIRE (Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education), organizes so undocumented students can get an education and stay in the country they call home. She was in a car full of friends sharing junk-food late one night when they were stopped by the police. Because of her status, she was terrified to give the officer her ID and fearful she and her family could lose their freedom because she was out past curfew. Three thousand people listening during the Closing Plenary and Call to Action Charge of the CDF’s 2012 National Conference feel her terror. This is an instructive tool to build your action plans around. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Catherine Eusebio is an undocumented youth from the San Francisco, Bay Area. She came to the US from the Philippines at the age of four years old. A graduate from UC Berkeley in political science, Eusebio is one of the leaders of the undocumented Asian youth organization, ASPIRE, Asian Students Promoting Immigrant Rights through Education. She is one of the leading voices on undocumented Asian students in the country. Eusebio is a Dream Summer intern working on building a stronger undocumented Asian organizing community.


 

Ruby Bridges is a portrait of strength and courage who was an advocate for justice at a young age. Bridges walked a gauntlet of hate in the spring of 1960 into history as the first black child to integrate an all-white elementary school. New Orleans protested, but she went on to school, and gave the entire country an education in grace and tenacity they would not ever forget. Bridges brings her story to life for 3,000 advocates for children during the Closing Plenary and Call to Action Charge of the CDF’s 2012 National Conference. This is an instructive tool to build your action plans around. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Ruby Bridges is known as the first African-American to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. She is also the founder of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which promotes the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences. From a young age, Bridges began working with children and realized children would be the focus of her life. She is overjoyed to have the opportunity to advocate for children through the Children’s Defense Fund. She currently resides in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Bridges studied at Northeastern Technical College and Ashford University


 

For years, Dolores Huerta, one of the heroines of the civil rights movement and the co-founder of the United Farm Workers, has organized around one principle- that everyone has power. "It is in your person. And you, together with other people, other workers, you can make the difference. But you have to remember that nobody is going to do it for you. If you don't get out there and try to solve your own problems, it's never going to change." Huerta shared her organizing experience with over 3,000 advocates for justice during the Closing Plenary and Call to Action Charge of the CDF’s 2012 National Conference. This is just a clip -- the entire session is available for purchase by itself or as a full DVD set from the CDF’s National Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dolores Huerta created the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA) in 1960 and co-founded a workers union with Cesar Chavez which was known as United Farm Workers (UFW). They worked great together because Huerta was a skillful organizer and tough negotiator, and Chavez was a dynamic leader and speaker. Although she gave up her position at UFW in 1999, she still continues to make a difference in the lives of women, workers, and immigrants. She has received many awards such as Ellis Island Medal of Freedom Award in 1993 and the Eleanor Roosevelt Award in 1999. In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.