By Aneesah Dryver
Members of Congress came to church in Oakland to hear residents testify about the need for jobs last week in a town hall meeting held at Acts Full Gospel Church. Led by Host Congresswoman Barbara Lee, she was joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative Mike Honda and U.S. Representative of Arizona, Raul Grijalva.
Oakland was the last stop in a tour of Democratic town hall meetings across the nation. The meeting entitled “Speak Out for Good Jobs Now” was an opportunity for citizens to voice their opinions about the lack of jobs, budget cuts and the need for better jobs. “Most people don’t get to go to Washington and speak,” said Congresswoman Lee. “These events provide feedback from you so that we can take your dialogue directly back to Washington.”
Lee noted that the U.S. unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent while Oakland’s unemployment rate is at 16 percent. Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is the CEO of Green For All, an organization that aims to support a clean-energy economy that helps solve inner-city economic and environmental problems.
Ellis-Lamkins urges youth to get more involved and informed about the environment. Her “green entrepreneurs “program promotes healthier and economically sound ways of living. “I believe that getting the youth involved is a way to ensure the progress of our future. They are our future leaders,” said Ellis-Lamkins.
Ron Phillips, who was in the line of speakers said, “What is a job without respect? What is a job without security? We don’t want to decide between food and Medicare.” Reina Smith, 19, a part of Silence the Violence campaign said that the representatives should fight harder for quality jobs because good jobs equal less violence.
Other audience members shouted and complained about the lack of aggressiveness from the Democratic Party overall, that somehow the Party has lost its drive. Nancy Pelosi assured the concerned crowd that Democrats are taking action with the “Make It in America” initiative that aims to increase American manufacturing and create new jobs.