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Equity Advocates Unite at State of the State: Solidarity in Action for An Afternoon of Art, Conversation, and Community


California has been a model of multiracial organizing and advocacy for generations – yet the intersectional bonds that were built during the 1960s Farmworkers’ Movement, 1970s Civil Rights Movement, and Los Angeles Uprising in ’92 have frayed over recent decades. On Sunday, March 26, Catalyst California teamed up with Grand Performances to host State of the State: Solidarity in Action – a free community program that served to refresh our commitment to, and understanding of, a resilient cross-racial solidarity that celebrates our differences and clarifies why and how we build power.

This dynamic, engaging event featured guest emcee Yesika Salgado, performances by Lula Washington Dance Theatre and Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli, and a panel discussion with Los Angeles City Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. Read on for the full recap!

Close to 150 equity advocates braved the elements on an uncharacteristically windy Los Angeles day at the beautiful California Plaza for what Grand Performances' President & CEO Rafael González aptly described as “a fantastic interplay between art, people, and social justice.” Acclaimed poet and body-positivity activist Yesika Salgado brought energy, passion, and joy to the stage as she facilitated our dynamic program.

Lula Washington Dance Theatre – a repertory ensemble that uses modern dance to explore social and humanitarian issues – opened the show with performances of two stunning new works: Today and Sobre Videa (I Will Survive). 

Next, Catalyst California President & CEO John Kim moderated an insightful conversation with Los Angeles City Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson. The discussion emphasized that while the leaked audio recordings of racist remarks made by city legislators and a labor leader last fall rocked the city council and threatened to divide our vibrant community, they instead strengthened and revitalized our solidarity. 

Councilmember Hernandez said it best: “We’re all better for it. It showed us that community is stronger. Who pushed back the hardest when those tapes came out? It was community – protesting over and over again. It was Oaxacan people dancing with Black Lives Matter. That’s what the tapes showed: The light after the storm.” 

When asked what’s ahead for multiracial solidarity and power-building in Los Angeles, the councilmembers offered a number of priorities: Establishing a truly independent redistricting commission, reforming the recall process for elected officials, possibly expanding the city council, and exploring how to make elections publicly funded.  

On the latter point, Councilmember Harris-Dawson reflected on Councilmember Hernandez’s campaign for her council seat against then-incumbent Gil Cedillo: “Eunisses out-raised a political giant…she took out a giant because of the matching funds' program. She had the capacity to go dollar-for-dollar, and even when the police union lined up with the other guy, she could contend because of our matching program…[the program] needs to be expanded, deepened, and made even more progressive than it is now.” 

Following the panel, three-time Grammy-winning musician Raul Pacheco closed out the program with an energizing, stripped-down set. He was later joined on stage by award-winning vocalist Nancy Sánchez for a captivating rendition of the bolero classic, “Cien Años” (One Hundred Years).

It was truly an afternoon to remember, made possible in part by our generous sponsors: First 5 LA and the Achieving America Family Foundation. We hope those who attended feel inspired to take action in strengthening multiracial solidarity and power-building. If you're an Angeleno, you can start now by completing this survey organized by the OUR LA Coalition! Your input will help develop recommendations for what the Los Angeles City Council could be doing to better respond to community needs and reflect the city's diversity. The last day to complete the survey is April 21, 2023.

Couldn’t make the event on Sunday? You’re in luck: The full recording is available below! 

Key moments: 

[2:38] – Lula Washington Dance Theatre performance: Today 
[8:20] – Tamica Washington-Miller, Associate Director, Lula Washington Dance Theatre 
[13:54] – Lula Washington Dance Theatre performance: Sobre Videa 
[21:16] – John Kim, President & CEO, Catalyst California 
[25:07] – Panel Conversation: Los Angeles City Councilmembers Eunisses Hernandez and Marqueece Harris-Dawson 
[50:45] – Raul Pacheco performance