No rally or march will bring about a better world. By no means does that make them without merit.
On the first of May, we will look out onto a world of comrades. International Workers’ Day is a day of commemoration, celebration, and above all, solidarity across all the barriers thrown up by capitalism. The history of the left is one marked by defeat after defeat. The victories that we have won have been won through tremendous resilience, by staying strong and unrelenting in the face of adversity.
El Comité Pro-Amnistia General Y Justicia Social formed in the wake of the 1999 WTO protests. The organizers saw that the interests of migrant workers were being ignored by the coalition of working people then standing opposed to the continuing globalization of capitalism. They selected International Workers’ Day for a march that recognized these, essentially, international workers. After their first march in Bellevue in 2000, El Comité continued to organize their marches each year, alongside activist groups, labor unions, and faith communities.
In 2006, a national immigrant-rights movement brought new attention to their struggle. Walkouts, protests, and marches – some with hundreds or thousands of participants – spread across Washington and the United States in the early months of that year in response to a horrendous bill in Congress that would have criminalized undocumented persons and those who aided them. May 1st, of 2006, was marked by the national “Day Without An Immigrant”, also known as the “Great American Boycott”, a national work stoppage and boycott which managed to kill the proposed bill. Since 2006, our police state has only become more militarized, our prisons more privatized, and our deportation machine larger and more inhumane. Renamed El Comité Pro-Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social in 2008, its work in organizing annual May Day marches continues to this day.
In Seattle, we march with El Comité in recognition of the fact that all workers are part of the same struggle. Differences of citizenship, immigration status, documentation must not divide the working class, any more than differences of gender or race. In solidarity we find our strength, and lend it to those who feel most threatened. Our neighbors may live in fear of ICE raids, but on May 1st they can walk amongst us with their chins held high. For those who stand at a precipice, wondering if they have the power to make a change for themselves and their fellow workers, on May 1st they can look out and see thousands standing with them. As we march, we stand in solidarity with migrant workers, sex workers, incarcerated workers, low-wage workers, and unpaid workers. We stand in solidarity with our unhoused neighbors, and with our fellow humans across all borders.
No rally or march will bring about a better world, but they might help to remind us that it’s still possible.
Join Seattle DSA and our fellow travelers on May 1st at Judkins Park at 2:30pm!
We’ll be meeting along the west edge of the park – look for the red flags! (Precise location may vary)
Check out this guide from Seattle Weekly on protest safety and security
Learn more about the history of International Workers’ Day
Learn more about the 2006 immigrant rights protests
Learn more about the history of El Comité
Unless expressly stated, Dispatches do not necessarily reflect the views of Seattle DSA as an organization or its leadership.
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