Chicago May Day March

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May 1st marks International Workers’ Day, an official government holiday in most countries
around the world, with mass demonstrations, rallies and marches held to express
labor solidarity and celebrate workers’ rights. Here in the U.S., May Day is not a government-
sanctioned holiday, even though its commemoration began in this country.
Nevertheless, 50,000 marchers and activists filled the streets of Chicago to commemorate
May Day this year. The march represented a powerful, bringing together people
working on a variety of issues, including workers’ rights, human rights, opposition to the
Iraq war, and most resoundingly immigrants rights.
Immigrant rights activists held both U.S. and Mexican flags, along with banners and
signs demanding reform of the immigration law, to be passed this election year. The
marchers called for equal rights for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who pay
taxes and contribute to the U.S. economy yearly. Speakers at the protest demanded a
stop to the violence of ICE raids and deportations being carried out across the county.
The march, which started at Union Park, ended in downtown Chicago, where a platform
was placed for performers, activists and politicians to address participants. Among
those present were Tom Morrello from Rage Against the Machine, singing to the thousands
congregated there. Activists and workers representatives from the Teamsters Local
743 addressed the rights of the workers to the 8-hour-day, to medical insurance and the
right to form and be part of a union without retaliation from the companies.
Latino politicians supported the demands for legalization and better working conditions
for immigrants and expressed the importance of the Latino vote in upcoming elections.
Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley told the crowd “immigrants are part of the fabric
of the American society…The City of Chicago was built by immigrants, and will continue
to be built by immigrants.” Daley affirmed that Chicago has declared itself a welcome
city for immigrants.
The marchers and activists were spirited in their demands. The incredible success of
the march this year was due to the participation of a wide range of organizations and people
who joined together. Of particular note was the presence of young people, white
activists, representatives of churches from different denominations, African American
groups and activists, activist for sexual rights, union workers, and political officials, who
recognize the need for unity in the struggle for a better world.
This cross-cultural and cross-issue approach is effectively galvanizing a movement,
which extends beyond unity for Latino immigrants or a fight of one racialized group, but
rather a larger struggle, which supports legalization for undocumented immigrants,
workers rights, and social justice for all people in this country.

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