Labor unionists and NAACP members from around the country gathered at the Lincoln Memorial Saturday to rally for education, jobs and justice.
Speakers at the “One Nation Working Together” rally — including NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Al Sharpton, MSNBC commentator Ed Schultz and the Rev. Jesse Jackson — mostly stuck to talking points about education, jobs, and justice, while encouraging those in the crowd to get out and vote on Nov. 2. Another theme at the rally was that progressives accepted everyone under their tent while conservatives helped only wealthy people, a theme Schultz, who was one of the first speakers, especially emphasized. Schultz also attacked the Tea Party movement during his comments.
“The conservative voices of America – they’re holding you down,” Schultz told the crowd. “They don’t believe in your freedom. They want the concentration of wealth. They shipped your job overseas.”
Schultz, who said on his show Friday night that this is “his turn” to speak at the Lincoln Memorial, referencing last month’s “Restoring Honor” rally led by Fox News personality Glenn Beck, tried to frame the rally as a pivotal moment in history much like Beck did at his rally.
“This is a defining moment in American history,” Schultz said. “This march is about the power to the people, the people standing up to the corporations.”
While for Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally most of those in attendance were specifically there to see Beck and hear his message, the vast majority of attendees interviewed by The Daily Caller at Saturday’s rally didn’t know who Schultz was, even after he spoke.
In his speech, Sharpton compared the midterm elections to “midterm exams,” and asked that those in attendance go home and focus all their energy on getting a passing grade – which, to Sharpton, meant getting as many Democrats elected or re-elected as possible. Sharpton also spoke about helping the American people through the ongoing economic crisis.
“We bailed out corporate America – now we need to bail out the American people,” Sharpton said in his speech Saturday. “We need to rebuild the infrastructure and provide jobs and training for the American people.”
Sharpton also emphasized what he saw as the crowd’s diversity.
“Take a look out on the Mall because this is what America looks like,” Sharpton said. “America is not one color and not one gender. This is what America looks like.”
Taking an indirect shot at the Tea Party, Sharpton stood up for the unionists who were assembled in the crowd, saying that though accountability is a “good thing…there’s a difference between accountability and union busting.”
NEXT: Speaker addresses immigration
Asian American Justice Center President Karen Narasaki was one of the event’s speakers who focused on immigration reform. In an interview, she told TheDC that she and her organization support the immigration reform bill proposed by Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez earlier this week. She further argued that there’s no practical way to send home all the illegal immigrants in the country and that she would support a pathway to legalization for illegal immigrants.
“We have an enormous stake in making sure that people who get elected this fall are people who are going to want to fix the system, not demonize individuals,” Narasaki said.
Both Jealous and Jackson in their speeches urged attendees to get out and vote in the upcoming midterm elections.