Ambassadors pave the way for community outreach
Handing out SPEEA tickets for a free carousel ride at the zoo, Kent Council Rep Andy Mittal was
having a ball. “The kids were so excited,”
he said, about the Pierce County Central
Labor Council Solidarity Day at the Point
Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma.
He was one of several SPEEA ambassadors
who staffed a table at the zoo’s education
center along with other unions at the event.
“I really enjoyed it – I like visiting with
the community and talking to people,” he
said. “The best part is that you get to represent your union – and network with other
unions,” he said.
The SPEEA Ambassadors program draws
from a pool of about 50 leaders who are willing to volunteer at events as union representatives. More than 50 ambassadors
have been involved in 26 events since April.
Another ambassador, Everett
Council Rep Evan Wipf was
happy to help rake leaves and
clear brush for the United Way
Day of Caring in Snohomish
County last fall.
“It felt good to be there to represent labor,” he said.
He talked about the perception some may have about Boeing engineers and
techs, particularly during contract negotiations when contentious issues are
often reported in the news.
“If we show we are regular people in the community, it helps people
understand who we are as a union – and what we’re about,” he said. “If
we work on being more involved, our perspective may change, too.”
As an ambassador, Wipf also took part in a phone banking effort with other
union activists to get neighbors to attend a meeting for Sound Alliance, a coalition of labor, education
and community groups.
“I personally gain from
it. It’s a chance to get
and learn more – both
what are their needs and
what are the best ways to
address those needs.”
Shannon Moriarty joined
a group of ambassadors
for a career fair targeting
middle and high school
students last spring.
The ambassadors drew
the students in with challenges to modify the SPEEA balsa wood airplanes
to fly farther and faster as well as competitions to see who could build a
Lego excavator in the shortest time.
“I like to ask, have you heard of SPEEA?," she said that day after encouraging
a student to see how far his modified airplane would fly.
The ambassador program, she said, is crucial. “We need simple ways for
members to get involved in a short-term commitment and be part of
something they’re already passionate about.”
To learn more contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The best part is that you get to represent your
union – and network with other unions.”
SPEEA Ambassador Andy Mittal “We need simple ways for members to get involved in a
short-term commitment and be part of something they’re
already passionate about.”
SPEEA Ambassador Shannon Moriarty
“If we show we are regular people
in the community, it helps people understand who we are as a
union – and what we’re about. If
we work on being more involved,
our perspective may change, too.”
SPEEA Ambassador Evan Wipf
Martin Luther King’s legacy: K
‘Much more to be accomplished’
By Theryl Johnson
SPEEA Council secretary
My earliest memory of Martin Luther King Jr. was sitting in front of the TV at
home watching his funeral. I
was 7 years old. At that time,
I knew he was a very important man, but I didn’t know
much more about him.
It wasn’t until I was older that I really understood
the impact of what this civil-rights activist had
accomplished - nonviolent civil disobedience,
several marches, many amazing speeches and
writings, even receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Of course, the 1963 March on Washington for
Jobs and Freedom, where he gave his ‘I Have a
Dream” speech is legendary.
April 4, 1968, as Dr. King stood on the balcony
of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a lone
gunman shot and killed him. I remember seeing
photos of men on the hotel balcony pointing
toward the spot where the shot was fired as Dr.
King lay motionless. I remember hearing how upset
everyone was, including my parents. I remember
seeing the picture of his family looking at him as
he lay in his casket. The one image that has always
stayed with me is the photo of his wife, Coretta
Scott King, sitting at his funeral with their daugh-
ter resting on her lap. It’s an unforgettable image.
When I was in my early teens, I remember my
parents taking us to Atlanta on vacation. During
that time, we attended Dr. King’s church, Ebenezer
Baptist Church in Atlanta. Once inside, I remember seeing Rev. Martin Luther King Sr., Coretta
King, her sons and also her daughter, Bernice (who
was the little girl in the funeral photo). It was a surreal experience. I also remember, later in my teens,
going back to Atlanta and visiting his gravesite.
As I became a young adult, learning more about Dr.
King’s accomplishments was an enlightening experience. He fought for justice in the face of incredible
danger to him and his family. There were constant
death threats, wiretaps, surveillance, bombings and
arrests. I can’t even imagine living that way.
I knew of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference (SCLC). But I did not realize until
much later that it played a large role in the
African American civil rights movement with
Dr. King as its first president.
I also learned that Dr. King was instrumental in the
Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott after Rosa Parks
refused to give up her seat. That boycott lasted 385
days. But with that determination, it led to the
desegregation on all Montgomery public buses.
I remember my mother telling me stories about
when she was riding the bus and had to move farther and farther back as more white people boarded.
That day in 1968, when Dr. King was assassinated, he was in Memphis to support black sanitation workers who were being treated unfairly.
Though his death was devastating, days later,
during the riots that followed his assassination,
the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law
(which is also known as the Fair Housing Act).
A lot has been achieved since his death, but
there is still much more to be accomplished. The
headlines of today reiterate that fact. I only hope
that I can affect some small portion of change
to improve the rights and equality of those in
need. As we celebrate another Martin Luther King
holiday, let’s not forget there’s still much more we
can accomplish. Let’s fight for what is fair for all.
[Theryl Johnson is also vice-chair of the SPEEA