On Tuesday, April 13th, Advancement Project California presented State of the State: A Just Recovery live via Zoom and Facebook livestream. This was our third annual State of the State, and our first time hosting it virtually. Hundreds of advocates from across the state tuned in for this powerful, inspiring program, featuring some of the most critical voices in California’s fight for racial justice. Read on for a recap of the riveting and empowering evening!
“If these past four years have taught us anything, it’s that we can’t go back to normal, because normal didn’t and hasn’t worked for so many people for a very long time.”
Wendelyn Killian, our Deputy Director, opened by establishing the program’s theme: Why and how California must center equity as we strive to recover and rebuild in the wake of recent crises. Addressing the pandemic, the recession, the murders of unarmed Black people, attacks on our Asian friends and neighbors, and the assault on our democratic institutions and principles, Wendy reminded our audience that these past four years have shown that leadership matters. We are all leaders, and by harnessing our collective power we can keep striving for a more perfect union.
“What is really going to move the needle on racial equity is going be our ability to organize. It cannot just be done at the top. It is going to be on us to make sure that it actually happens.”
Congresswoman Karen Bass, Representative for California’s 37th district, gave the night’s keynote address. A stalwart advocate for racial justice first in California and now in the halls of Congress, she reminded viewers that it’s people power – not just government – that is necessary to enact change. Every one of us has a role to play in ensuring that our leaders are held accountable and that systems and policies work for our most vulnerable communities – not just the privileged few.
“This pandemic has left no doubt about the inequities in our society. We have a once in my generation opportunity to lay the groundwork to reverse all of these trends. Let’s not let these opportunities get past us.“
California State Senator María Elena Durazo laid out her vision of a post-pandemic future for our state: A worker-led, climate-resilient economic recovery. The Senator, a staunch labor leader, believes prioritizing the creation of good jobs that also solve our environmental and climate issues will be essential to a strong economic recovery.
“Last year and today are about surviving, but tomorrow is about creating. It’s about creating what the California of our children will look like.”
Our Executive Director, John Kim, moderated an engaging panel discussion with April Verrett, President of SEIU Local 2015, and Maria Brenes, Executive Director of InnerCity Struggle.
“We can no longer stand by and put band-aids on gaping wounds. So much of our policy is just about a band-aid.”
“Power is going to be key to advancing racial equity. As we rise from this hardship, let’s continue to push on and push forward.”
The three formidable racial justice movement leaders discussed their takes on what the next decade will look like in California, identifying the challenges advocates and organizers may face along the way.
And that’s not all: Folks who joined via Zoom enjoyed some exclusive program elements, including a poignant and impactful music video by R&B legends The Whispers, a group photo, and the chance to meet and reflect with fellow attendees after the panel!
It was truly a night to remember, made possible by YOU – the passionate supporters and movement leaders who fuel our work. We hope those who attended the event feel inspired to take action to ensure an equitable recovery for all Californians. And if you weren’t able to attend, you’re in luck: you can catch the event in full below.
We look forward to seeing you at our next State of the State in 2022 – in person! Until then, we’ll leave you with a thought-provoking question John Kim posed to our panelists and attendees: What’s your contribution going to be to a just recovery? What’s the role you’ll be playing to set up what California looks like in 2050?
5:05 – Keynote Introduction & Speech (Emcee: Wendelyn Killian; Speaker: Karen Bass) 16:15 – María Elena Durazo Introduction & Remarks 24:52 – Panel Introduction & Discussion (Panelists: April Verrett & Maria Brenes; Moderator: John Kim) 1:00:05 – Closing Remarks (Emcee: Wendelyn Killian)
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