After months of organizing and momentum building, between 40- 50,000 climate activists showed up in Washington, DC at the largest climate rally in the history of the United States to send a clear message: It’s Time to Move Forward on Climate.
Despite the cold, we all gathered. And we kept gathering and growing with thousands of people arriving by the minute. Rev. Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus kept us cheering, jumping and warm through the Forward on Climate rally.
We chanted ‘can’t stop, won’t stop’ between speakers on the rally stage where people such as indigenous leader, Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and President Obama’s former green jobs advisor Van Jones all highlighted the urgency of stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.
It was not until later when I saw the much-shared image that I really, really believed that fifty thousand of us demonstrated in Washington DC to change the course of climate change and demand President Obama keep his promise to protect future generations and cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.
A full recording of the rally can be watched here.
Hundreds of buses carried thousands of activists from states as far away as Florida, Michigan, Rhode Island and Texas, where direct action resistance is being led by women like Julia Trigg Crawford and 78 year old farmer Eleanor Fairchild. Crawford and Fairchild both joined Melina Laboucan-Massimo and Crystal Lameman, First Nations women from Alberta, Canada – ground zero of the tar sands – at an event later that evening called “Woman of the Frontlines Speak.”
Speaking from both ends of the pipe, the packed room heard the devastating impacts of tar sands extraction on the environment, life and spirit. Impacts which would only be exacerbated by the Keystone XL pipeline.
Rallies and marches across the United States also carried the same message. Global Exchange was proud to also be present in San Francisco, at the 5000-person strong rally supported by dozens of local organizations and Idle No More.
Reports still cite a decision on the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline due soon, and no doubt politicians in Canada and the U.S. were watching Sunday’s events closely (Obama? Maybe – he was playing golf with Tiger Woods and 2 oil executives in Florida).
But I’m hopeful. In DC, speaking from the stage, Ponca Native rights activist Casey Camp-Horinek told the crowd, “Relatives, this is the beginning of change and I thank you and I love you.” Agreed.
Let’s keep the momentum going and stop the pipeline once and for all. Join the week of action to Stop Tar Sands Profiteers, March 16 -23.