Co-founders of the coalition, Ethan Felder and Mazeda Uddin, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people at MacDonald Park on Saturday about the value in diversity and the need to stand up for one another.
“We’re proud to live in the most diverse borough in the world,” Felder said. “Our diversity enriches, enlightens and strengthens who we are and how we live.”
Though he led the crowd in a chant of “Love not hate, makes America great,” Felder said love isn’t enough when action is needed. He called on the crowd to lead a social movement for justice, including for the disadvantaged, those who don’t have access to healthcare, and those who are judged for the color of their skin.
The spirit of diversity was echoed by a number of speakers and performers at the rally.
“America is the United States of America, not the United States of white America or the United States of black America or the United States of brown America,” said Imam Shamsi Ali from the Jamaica Muslim Center. “There is no white supremacy, there is no black supremacy, there is no Asian supremacy. There is only one supremacy, human supremacy.”
Sal Albanese, a former councilman who ran as a democratic candidate for mayor, recalled his own experiences of moving to America at the age of eight years old.
“To think that 800,000 Dreamers might be deported as a result of an incredibly cruel policy out of Washington, it demands this type of pushback around the country,” Albanese said. “We are a country of immigrants and it’s essential to push back against hate.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, democratic candidate for Congress in the 14th Congressional District, added that recent events have led to great moral clarity.
“The things that unites us as a country are not lines in the sand, but ink bled on paper that outline our notions and ideas that ours is a country of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, of equality and freedom,” she said. “That is why DACA is one of the most important documents that we could support today.”
No matter how they got here, Women for Afghan Women case manager Shgoofa Rahmani said the immigrants she’s worked with are hard-working, law-abiding citizens, adding “we have every right to be here, just like all of the immigrants who came before us.”
And the president’s lack of leadership shouldn’t be surprising, activist Jamal Wilkerson claimed.
“He’s about the money, not about America,” Wilkerson said. “He’s about self, not us, and he keeps proving it time and time again.”
To take action and make a difference, Wilkerson suggested starting at the community level by understanding local politics. He also asked the community to work together, even if there are different views on politics.
“Without struggle there is no progress,” Wilkerson said. “Keep coming together as a united Queens.
“I see people talking to one another that didn’t know one another before,” he added. “This is what Queens is about, this is what America is about, this is what standing up for what’s right is about. This is what democracy is about.”