A thousand union and community leaders from across the state rallied in New Britain with the DUE Justice Coalition to Take Back Connecticut. Rev. Dr. William Barber, founder of the national Moral Monday movement delivered a passionate call to action.
"Do we have the courage to build a democracy that has a heart and cares for everyone?" asked Barber.
Quoting Martin Luther King's 1967 Riverside Church speech "Time to Break the Silence," Barber called for a "radical revolution of values," saying "I am worried about a country that puts more money to weapons of war than to the war against poverty."
Repeating the refrain "America has a heart problem," Barber decried tax cuts and bailouts for the rich, police killings of black youth, and championed the need for universal healthcare and much more.
In a scathing assessment of Donald Trump, Barber called out the Republican presidential candidate for using "dog whistle politics," fanning the flames of racism. Barber declared, "working poor black and white people ought to be on the same side."
"We need a movement with power," he concluded to cheers and a standing ovation. " We need a movement with courage. We need a movement with understanding of love and justice that cares for the soul and heart of this democracy....Clear away the racism and hatred. Bring our heart back to life."
Four days later as part of the national Moral High Ground Day of Action initiated by Barber, Connecticut clergy, union and social justice leaders gathered at the state capitol one of 30 such actions around the country. They challenged elected leaders to support a moral policy agenda including living wages, union rights, racial justice and healthcare for all.
More than two dozen clergy from various faiths including Islam, Christianity and Judaism spoke and read a declaration while workers and community members gave testimony.
Anticipating a difficult debate around the state budget, the group presented demands including an end to police brutality; full employment and living wages; affordable, quality housing; an end to the school to prison pipeline; the abolition of mass incarceration; environmental justice; health and mental health equity; and greater voter access and protection of voting rights.