Remarks by Ald. Jeanette Morrison upon receiving the Connecticut People's World Amistad Award at the December 4, 2016 event held at Wexler-Grant Community School in New Haven, Connecticut. Jeanette Morrison was elected to represent Ward 22 in New Haven as part of a labor-community coalition in 2011. She led the successful movement to re-build the Dixwell Q House, a youth center in the heart of the African American community next to Wexler-Grant school. As a social worker she fights to bring families together and for opportunities for children. She is a member of AFSCME Local 2663.
Thank you to the People's World Amistad Awards committee, the youth, my mother, Bettye Morrison, father, Howard Morrison, my kids, Jaydah and Jordan, my BOA family, the Q House committee, the unions, New Haven Rising, city staff, the residents of Ward 22 and all my friends and family members and a special thank you to my friend and co-worker Mark Hayre for helping me organize my thoughts for today’s presentation!!
As I reflect on today’s ceremonial theme, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress”, I begin to reflect on the terms Coalitions and Partnerships and the struggles that can come with coalitions and partnerships!! But on a daily basis I have to remind myself of something my mother would always say to me, “if you don’t work hard for something, how do you truly appreciate the outcome” …. So with that in mind, I continuously say to myself that…COALITIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS ARE NOT A LUXUARY, BUT A NECCESITY!!
As we are moving forward after the most recent presidential election and our Democratic sister did not prevail as we had hoped for, we all have to remember that no matter who sits at the helm of our federal government, state government and city government, as a collective body we have to work together to make our community a more perfect union through DISCUSSIONS, DEBATES AND EXCHANGES OF IDEAS!!
Through this process, we have to compromise…. We have to remember that no one person or no one special interest group can ever get everything he or she wants in a DEMOCRACY… We are a democracy, not a dictatorship!! Therefore, we have to continue to do the work we are all demonstrating through organizing, collaborations and partnerships, so that our voices and our valued opinions are heard!!
We always have to remember, that in a democracy it isn’t just about hearing the voices and opinions of those that agree with us or we agree with…We must also listen and respect the voices of those that disagree with us too…Through this process of listening to one another, we can learn from one another…That’s a part of a representative government…
Examples of a representative government in the City of New Haven and from the perspective of the Board of Alders would include the views and opinions for example from Dixwell, East Shore, Fair Haven and Westville…These four areas are vastly different from a socio-economic perspective, but as the legislative body for the City of New Haven, we can all agree that the legislative agenda that was developed by the board and thousands of city residents during 2012 and as we collectively reexamine our agenda today, regardless of our geographic location, gender, color, sexual orientation or religion, Safety, Jobs, Youth, Fiscal Responsibility and Constituent Services are primary focuses of each Alder and our City residents alike!!!
The fact that the Dixwell Community was awarded 15.5 million dollars by our state government to revitalize the Q House building and reinstitute its overall purpose that embodies the peoples legislative priorities, is another example of true collaborative efforts!!...Can any one person or group take the credit of getting the needed resources to bring our beloved Q house back?? NO!! The Q House is coming back because every person, every group within our Q House Steering and Building committees and all of our allies have done their individual parts and have come together and worked through collaborative efforts, partnerships or in plain english, worked as a TEAM!! As a TEAM, we always have to keep in mind, that “Together EVERYONE ACHEIVES MORE”!!
In closing, as we move forward to accomplish all the needs of our New Haven, our State and our country at large, we all have to remember to listen to one another, even if the person speaking doesn’t look like you, talk like you or even possess the same value system as you do…. People have to come together, listen to one another, put your/our differences down and take a little or a lot from one another and stay focused on the goals we have all set to best serve our people and the community as a whole…