Jan 21, 2009

Parade Marchers Display Diversity, Strength of America’s Workers

For Maria Somma, it was a dream come true. The native of Vietnam and naturalized citizen was one of the 265 union members who braved freezing temperatures today to join representatives from across the country and our armed forces to participate in the official inaugural parade for President Obama. The contingent of union members taking part in the parade included members from the AFL-CIO, Change to Win and the National Education Association.

With 15 union members riding a union-made float and 250 marchers alongside, the workers’ contingent was one of the largest groups in the parade. This is the first time in recent memory that workers have participated in the parade.

Somma, who lives in Pittsburgh and is a member of the United Steelworkers, rode the float representing the AFL-CIO constituency group Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). She says labor’s participation shows the power of the American Dream for all people.

It’s very exciting to be welcoming a person of color into the White House and to be a part of history. Even if it was minus 20, I would be glad to be here. This is an incredible achievement for this country. For Barack Obama to come from his background and rise to the top is not the typical American story. His inauguration is part of the transition of this nation to fully embrace all its citizens.

Marching with a banner, “America’s Workers: United for Change,” participants also carried flags that represented the issues most important to working families: an “Economy That Works for All,” “Great Public Schools,” “Good Jobs Green Jobs” and “Health Care for All.” The overall theme of the labor float is “Honoring America’s Workers.”

- James Parks, AFL-CIO Now blog; click here for his complete report.

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