The following post is from Stephanie Hernandez, Communications Intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Last week, author Peter Dreier gave an inspirational talk about his new book “The 100th Greatest Americans of the 20th Century” at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. His book speaks of the past, but for our generation, it is a constant reminder that no work comes without sacrifice. Many of his lessons equally apply to our pursuits today for a better, fairer and healthier American economy.
Focusing on progressive history, Drier presented a detailed, yet enlightening, tale of earlier generations that have now set the bar for future generations in social justice. He mentioned various progressive activists from Dr. Seuss to Eleanor Roosevelt giving the audience an insight to his book and key figures in history.
Peter Drier is the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics and director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Before working at Occidental College, Dreier worked as a journalist with newspapers like Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and The Nation.
Drier wrote this book not only to celebrate achievements of people and movements, but to “educate and inspire people by offering profiles of these fascinating pioneers.” He said, “I also wanted to provoke debate and controversy by encouraging readers to think about what defines someone as ‘great’ and how progressive movements often beat the odds and bring about significant and lasting change.”
This book serves as a reminder of significant movements like the civil rights and women’s suffrage movement. Movements that may have seemed radical and almost impossible to accomplish at the time, but now are an example of the possibilities that result from people uniting for a cause.
“Radical ideas of one generation are often the common sense of the next,” said Drier. The 20th century demonstrated a push and pull of movements, a continuous run towards change and social justice.
“When pathbreaking laws are passed—such as the Nineteenth Amendment (which granted women suffrage in 190), the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (which created the minimum wage), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which outlawed many forms of racial discrimination), and the Clean Air Act of 1970—we often forget that those milestones took decades of work by thinkers, activists, and politicians,” said Dreier.
As we continue to work to build a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy, we must remember no movement is accomplished without the push of people like you and I.
Currently, we are working together towards a resilient world that is ready for climate change. We hope to enact policies to strengthen our water and transportation infrastructure. In addition, we want to create preparedness while creating jobs. Together, we can meet these goals. Our advocacy only creates a stronger movement for a greener and cleaner economy.
Month-by-month, we’re working to sustain an economic recovery that supports more and more good jobs in a cleaner, stronger economy. Like the movements of the past that have produced real results, it’s not easy, but we must continue our efforts towards a climate change ready world that’s better for us all.