OPAL Made History at a Movement of Movements!

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A Movement of Movements was a huge success! Thank you to all our sponsors, all the attendees, and everyone involved in making the event our biggest, most inspiring annual event ever. On a balmy July evening, more than 400 people crowded into Revolution Hall to pay homage to past and present movement leaders for social, racial, and environmental justice. Guests enjoyed delicious food from Po’Shines (link), participated in a raffle with unique and exciting prizes, and had their photographs taken at the photo booth and in the crowd thanks to photographers Celina Flores and Sarah Clark. This was OPAL’s seventh annual event telling the stories of past movement leaders, building solidarity, and raising funds to continue our important work.

A Movement of Movements imagines a new kind of public space: one where everyone is invited, no one is unwelcome, and where those who can afford to, pay, in support of access for everyone. We invited members of OPAL’s programs like Bus Riders Unite (BRU) and the Youth Environmental Justice Alliance (YEJA) to rub shoulders with members of dozens of local and statewide base-building organizations like APANO, Forward Together, PCUN and Oregon Just Transition Alliance partner organization. The room was full because we didn’t allow barriers to entry to keep away our closest friends and allies in the movement. OPAL is about giving access to the people who deserve it. That means everyone.

Joann Hardesty reads Maria W StewartOur performers, all local movement leaders of color, took the crowd on a journey: biting humor, abject grief, righteous anger, springing into resolve and actions to fight for justice, and understanding the humanity in each other as we work to change a system that seeks to divide and dehumanize us.

Executive Director of the Native American Youth and Family Center, Paul Lumley, Yakama Nation, set the arc in motion with a reading of Indian Humor by Vine Deloria Jr., bringing forth hard truths interspersed with humor pungent and lighthearted by turns. Eddy Morales, founder of East County Rising and Gresham City Councilor, spoke to the grief that comes from creating false divisions among people – seen through the eyes of a mighty river in Complaint of El Rio Grande by Richard Blanco. Reyna Lopez, Executive Director of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), compelled us to “imagine winning”, to grasp in our minds right now that another world is possible, as spoken through the words of Aurora Levins Morales in V’ahavta. Portland City Commissioner Joann Hardesty urged us not just to imagine winning, but to throw off our fearfulness and step into our full power, as she brought to life Maria Stewart’s African Masonic Hall Speech. BRU leader Shanice Clark, speaking the words of Fannie Lou Hamer in her speech Sick and Tired, reminded us that now is the time to demand and take action for change and that no longer should we accept that “it takes time.” From the Civil Rights movement to Black Lives Matter, YEJA leader Nia Calloway wove together the shared values and history as she read from Why Black Lives Matter by Alicia Garza (who coined the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter), reminding us that though we have come far, our work is also far from done. Nakisha Nathan, OPAL’s Board Secretary, followed Nia’s fiery speech and the resulting standing ovation with an appeal for support, giving the crowd so many reasons why a gift to OPAL is so important. Ana del Rocío closed the evening – and brought the house down – with Valarie Kaur’s profound Watch Night Speech, compelling us to strengthen our resolve, see the heart of our collective humanity, to love ourselves and each other enough to persist in our labor, to breathe, and push, to birth a better world.

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See more of the event photos from Sarah Clark Photography here.

This year, proceeds from A Movement of Movements support #UpWithRiders, our campaign to end fare hikes and win a truly public transportation system free of fares, congestion, and racial profiling. The campaign got a last-minute signal boost during the intermission, where guests made haste to take a picture of themselves and post the hashtag #UpWithRiders on social media, in hopes of winning a beautiful piece of art donated by our friends at Forward Together.program booklet_sponsors

We hold so much appreciation to the many guests and OPAL members who showed up on this night. Thanks to your enthusiastic collaboration, we raised more than $40,000 for OPAL’s Up With Riders campaign. Organizing money helps to build the world we really need. We are so thankful for your belief in OPAL, as a hub connecting the movement of movements! May we carry on the wisdom of past and present leaders, as we strive for a just and healthy world.

If you missed the event, make a donation today to propel OPAL and the #UpWithRiders campaign!

Posted in Against Enclosure of Wealth and Power, Against Militarization, Build the New, Bus Riders Unite, Celebrations, Climate Justice, Coalition Building, Invest in the Good, OPAL Fellows, Transit Justice, YEJA.