Students and faculty rally in Sacramento

John Balchak and John Balchak

In a show of solidarity, a group from City College traveled by bus to Sacramento on April 21 to participate in the completion of the pro-education March for California’s Future.

Departing from campus at 4:30 a.m., 28 supporters, including Associated Student Government members, Bringing Education and Activism Together members and City College faculty advisors, proceeded on a nearly 10-hour journey north.

“Fox 5 television was there for the departure,” ASG Senator Joseph Shannon said. “Most people slept for the first part of the trip. By the time we woke up, we were in Bakersfield and everyone was in a cheerful mood.”

The march, which began in Bakersfield March 6, had been making its way up the center of the state, spreading their message of support for public education and a fair tax system in California. The marchers, including City College Professor Jim Miller, walked the entire 260-mile distance over 48 days.

According to Shannon, the City College contingent arrived in time to join the march on its final mile from Sacramento’s Southside Park to the Capitol building. “They rented a flat-bed truck (to accompany the marchers) and had music. I remember hearing “California Dreaming,” he said.

On the Capitol’s west lawn, they were met by an enthusiastic crowd estimated at about 5,000.

“It was great,” Shannon said. “There was a skit about Dracula being governor done by students from San Francisco State. There were representatives of many unions who spoke on the capitol steps. Then the marchers were introduced and each of them gave the reasons why they marched.”

One of the featured student speakers was City College’s Jose Rodriguez, president of BEAT, who flew to Sacramento for the rally.

“We converged at the park and marched the last mile together,” Rodriguez said. “At the rally there was an extraordinarily large crowd. There were people from all over the state and specialized communities such as minorities and the disabled. It was inspirational.”

In his address to the rally, Rodriguez said he made clear the point that all Californian’s deserve access to education and health care. He contended that there is enough funding at the disposal of the legislature, but they are not using it wisely.

“The next step is to get more people politically involved,” Rodriguez said. “Our voices need to be heard all the time through lobbying and voter registration. Many of the marchers stayed in Sacramento to lobby for more funding.”

Before the City College group left Sacramento, they stopped at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office and dropped off the large banners that had been signed by attendees of the March 4 Day of Action on campus.

They were told that the governor was in a meeting and unavailable. The bus riders then headed for home, through rain and snow, arriving in San Diego at 3:20 a.m.

“It was a good time. I loved it,” Shannon said. “I commend all of the students who showed up. I even made my 9:30 a.m. class the next day.”