“We’re your sisters, your brothers, your sons, and your daughters. Treat us like family,” sang labor union members who came together for a choir performance at the Women’s March in Hartford last Saturday.
The song they sang, which focuses on the need to raise the minimum wage and treat workers fairly, was written by Bridgeport music teacher Sheena Graham, Connecticut’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.
“The children we teach, if they have parents who can take paid family leave, are going to be more supported,” said Graham, who sees the need for teachers to get involved with their union and with their communities. “We’re all tied together, we’re all one community,”
Also singing in the choir was former Windsor teacher Lisa Bress, who said she was excited at the opportunity to join together with members of other labor unions. “It’s an excellent way to share our gifts and talents,” said the CEA-Retired member.
Windsor teacher Lisa Thomas was one of the thousands in the crowd, cheering the choir on.
“I’m here for the kids that I teach,” said Thomas. “I want them to live in a world where they are accepted for who they are and what they are, and for them to have the freedom to feel they can stand up and speak up.”
CEA President Jeff Leake, who was at the march with a group of CEA members and staff, said that teacher activism is important because, “Every decision that is made about our classrooms is a political one.”
“You’re involved whether you want to be or not,” said U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes, a prime example of a teacher who stepped out of her comfort zone to become politically involved. “The only difference is, either you’re speaking for yourself, or someone’s speaking for you.”