Celebrations of President Joe Biden’s inauguration took place throughout Connecticut Wednesday night, including one by Unidad Latina en Accion, or ULA. The organization celebrated in the form of a demonstration, hosting a two-part event: a march and car caravan in New Haven and a virtual roundtable of speakers from advocacy groups across the state.
ULA took a big tent philosophy to Wednesday night’s gathering. Advocates for racial justice and immigrant rights spoke, as did Christian and Muslim faith leaders, environmentalists, Democratic socialists and labor union members.
Many of their comments echoed those of Max Cisneros, who works with undocumented communities in New Haven.
“Yes, it’s a new day, but we still have to fight these same struggles,” Cisneros said.
And others agreed that a Biden administration is not the time to check out of advocacy but to continue to fight for their respective interests to be heard.
Referring to the fight for gay marriage, Cisneros continued, “and a lot of the folks who are in these struggles remember 2008: We fought, we won, and still, we still have to push.”
He recalled that even with a Democratic House and Senate it took until 2012 for the then-President Barack Obama to support same-sex marriage.
As the Connecticut event continued, events in Washington, D.C., were gathering pace. At 5:15 p.m., Biden signed a slate of executive orders undoing key parts of former President Donald Trump’s policy platform.
Imam Bilal Ansari was addressing the gathering when a fellow speaker broke the news to him that one of those executive orders overturned Trump’s travel ban on Muslim majority countries.
“Really. Oh wow, that’s great news!” Ansari said. “Praise God, praise God for that.”
Over the next four years, Ansari said he hopes to continue working with the coalition of groups gathered.
He plans to keep “aligning with other marginalized groups, to join the choir to raise our voices together,” he said, adding that the groups gathered were essential to fighting for Muslim rights in the early days of the Trump administration when the so-called Muslim ban was enacted. “It’s one thing to yell as loud as you can, but when you are joining in with a group your voice can bring much more power.”
Most speakers gathered expressed hope that the beginning of the Biden administration marks a new chapter in, and four more years of work toward, justice for all.
Ali Oshinskie is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Ali covers the Naugatuck River Valley for Connecticut Public Radio. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter at @ahleeoh.