“This is a new age of America that we’re looking at. I know it’s a dawn of a new age of America.”
Michael Oretade is president of Black Lives Matter 860 and reflected on the significance of President Joe Biden’s inauguration Wednesday.
He is optimistic about the new administration, the possibility of more progressive issues, and the their activism can have on communities.
“This is a call back to things that Martin Luther King was fighting for like an economic bill of rights,” said Oretade. “Provide jobs, invest in the people, and that’s something that we need to do. Especially the Black community. I think there are going to be a lot of economic changes with this new president coming in.”
Oretade joined John Lugo and other community groups for the “People’s Inauguration” held online Wednesday night. Lugo, whose group Unidad Latina en Acción, organized the event to discuss election issues like immigration reform and COVID help, including access to vaccinations.
“The vaccines they are not really available for everybody and I think this past government wasn’t really doing enough to provide vaccines for the entire country,” said Lugo.
He says the message from the event should be a reminder to President Biden of the promises made during the election. He says the people should hold the new president accountable.
“It is to tell the people we should be on the streets now on. This is very crucial the people mobilize to bring the changes that we expected to happen during this new administration,” said Lugo.
Rochelle Palache is vice president of SEIU Local 32 BJ. Like Lugo, she’s looking for immigration reform. She says her members can identify with Vice President Harris because many are immigrants and are of color.
They work in security and environmental services and are considered essential workers. She’s hopeful the administration will focus on labor and the value workers bring to the table.
“We’re not expecting miracles, we know we’re going to have to fight for everything that we get, but we believe that at least now someone is listening,” said Palache.
And with that comes hope.
“I think that the country is going to be moving in a better place than it was under trump and even under Obama. Obama had to jump through hoops to get things done. I don’t think Biden is going to have that problem,” said Oretade.
He added that he believes Biden is only part of the solution, he says the power is with the people.
“It’s not going to be the answer, we the people are the answer. It changes with us and it starts with us.”