May 1 of 2006 is a day to remember. People gathered and united walked across the Centennial Bridge in the Quad Cities. About 3,000 people participated protesting a bill that would have made undocumented immigrants in the United States into felons. Day of Unity March, as it later became known, was called a great success at the time. It even received national and local coverage.
“It was a small group of us that in my dining room we held the meetings trying to figure out how we were going to organize the march. Part of the group were high school kids, but what they lacked in experience they made up in passion,” Tar Macias, publisher of Hola America, said about his experience helping organize the Day of Unity March in 2006. “On top of the help of the small group of volunteers, we reached out to organizations like LULAC and KALA radio for their support and through the Latino media at that time Hola America and KALA en Español and the help of local Latino owned businesses we mobilized about 3,000 people”
Many others also remember that day and feel proud to have been a part of something like this.
“Participating in The Day of Unity March was a huge deal for me, my parents are from Mexico, I am a natural born citizen but I knew people first hand who would be greatly affected by this new law that they were trying to pass. There were people in my life that I could possibly never see again if this went through; I knew I had to do something. I believe this event was such an empowering moment in the community, it showed me just how much can be done when we, as a community, support one another and work together,” Cristal Rios shared her personal experience and thoughts.
Thousands in Quad Cities share Cristal Rios’ opinion. In 2006 everyone were feeling that they were on the verge of big changes. Something good had to happen. While, that bill people were marching against did not pass, everything else regarding immigration reform seems to be frozen in time. Years are passing, frustration of not being able to achieve the dream is growing, and now the political atmosphere of 2016 has put a greater distance from those who still hope for the American dream and the cruel reality of living as a second class human being.
10 years ago people were full of hope, believing they had reached those who did not want to hear, believing they achieved something, believing the change was near. 10 years have passed, but very little has changed. Yes, some young people (DACA) got a chance to finish school and even work in their field of study, but those young people did not start this struggle for comprehensive immigration reform.
Unfortunately, those who did start the fight were left out of the resulted benefits. And now courts and politicians are debating the fate of the people who had been here for decades working hard and learning to love this country as their own.
Many of them do not have a voice, that precious right to vote. That is why it is up to those who enjoy this right to go out there and raise their voices for the ones who can’t.
It is time to act. If they do not hear you when you march, if they refuse to see you when you march, so it is in your hands to act and make them understand that you also know how to exercise this precious right to vote.
Yesterday we marched, today we vote.
Did you participate in the march of May 1, 2006?
Use the hashtag # Marcha2006
And visit our website HolaAmericaNews.com this Saturday to see many more photos of this march from 10 years ago.