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Rosario Dawson at People’s Summit: We Need to Stay the Course to Build a New Movement

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For months, actor Rosario Dawson has been campaigning across the country for Bernie Sanders. She spoke in Chicago at The People’s Summit on how to build off the momentum generated by Sanders’ campaign.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We go back to The People’s Summit, a major conference that took place in Chicago over the weekend, of thousands, to chart the future of the progressive movement in the United States. We’ll hear more from Naomi Klein, but first we turn to Democracy Now!’s own Juan González questioning actor and activist Rosario Dawson.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask Rosario, who is very upfront in her support for Bernie Sanders, took a lot of heat from a lot of places. In terms of the—where you see this incredible movement going, what’s the vision that is most important for folks to cling to at this time, as we head into these conventions of both the Democrats and the Republicans, and then the election in November? And most importantly, what happens afterwards?

ROSARIO DAWSON: I’m so thrilled to be here. I’m so grateful that this exists, that this forethought and the movement was focused on and committed to in order to bring this moment for all of us to be together, not knowing what would be happening around us in the election, but just knowing that we would need to be together no matter what. And we do. We very much do need to have visibility with each other. It’s great that we have these hashtags that go off and that we are talking to each other in our different groups, but we need visibility. We need to see each other. We need to preach to the choir and invigorate each other. And that’s the thing that I feel like I’ve walked away with the most in this whole campaign, is this calling to encourage courage. And you all are doing that. And we need to continue doing that, to do, as you’ve said, like putting feet to the street and—help me out. I know I’m an actress. I—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Vote with your feet. Vote with your feet.

ROSARIO DAWSON: Vote with your feet, and—

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Vote in the streets.

ROSARIO DAWSON: —vote in the streets. You know, I say you’ve got to march, and you’ve got to march to the polls. You’ve got to have both. Like, you have—this has to be a comprehensive thing. And sometimes that does mean some people are going to vote, and some people are going to organize, and some people are going to translate, and some people are going to get arrested, and some people are going to do this. But we really need to support each other in all of those different instances, understanding that corporations and businesses and trades and countries, all of those things, they all work with each other, and they have a long game. They’re like, “I’ll scratch your back, and in four or eight years, you scratch my back.” And they’ve got this long game going, and we’re stuck in this cycle of reaction and fighting for the little bits of stuff that we can get. And that’s not working for us.

I’ve seen that over and over and over again in the philanthropic community, where people are going, “I have a certain amount of money I need to make this year, and I’m going to lobby for it, and if that other organization that’s helping children doesn’t get it because that’s the only funds that they have, oh, well, I kept my organization alive.” No, you both need to persist. How can we make it so that those moneys come to all of us and we all work together, work collaboratively with each other, so no one is sacrificed? Because they’re not sacrificing each other up there. They’re all working with each other. And even when it looks like, oh, there’s something, maybe they’ve fallen out, like don’t get it twisted. Deborah Wasserman Schultz is going to be hooked up somewhere, somehow. Like don’t get—don’t get so excited by the news and being like, “Oh, she’s going to leave as the DNC chair,” and something like that means like she’s getting a slap on the wrist. No, that’s long since been figured out. These are gestures and movements and things of—like, it’s not—we have to be able to see through these moments of being reactive, and be proactive.

And being proactive means staying the course. And that was required before this movement of movements, and will long since come after, because, you know, it’s never like you just win once. You win, and then you’ve got to defend your position. And you lose, and you’ve got to defend your position. You win and you lose, and you win and you lose, because there’s a lot of us here, and we’re all grappling towards things. And we need to have more understanding; otherwise, we’re stuck in the same cycle where like every couple of years we get a new president and half the country feels like they lost, and they just dig their heels in against everything and then run on a platform of undermining everything that just—any progress that was made. That’s not a way to have any kind of progress. That’s not building anything. That’s not creating anything.

And I talk to so many people who are absolutely interested in exactly that, creating things and developing things, particularly relationships, networking with each other, talking to each other, recognizing, “Wow, I did a lot of organizing. I did a lot of phone banking. I did a lot of door knocking and canvassing. You know what? I could do that for you. Do you want to run for office? Or how about me? Maybe I’ll run for office.” You know, like, it’s like—but these are the conversations that I’m seeing of young people and people across the nation who are discovering their power, because they were compelled to do something that moved them, that was—felt like a calling, that they did without even really thinking about it. Like Shailene Woodley had this pin that says, you know, “I was going to get into Bernie Sanders, and I just thought, you know, it would be part of my life. And then I just decided, 'Why not let it consume to my soul?'” And that’s what this movement has done for people. They’re like, “This is what I need to do. This is my life. I wasn’t alive until this moment. And now I’m so alive.” And there’s no going back on that. So, this narrative of like, “Oh, you lost, and you’re a sore loser,” is like, wait, I’m sorry, I’m looking at a sea of thousands of people. I don’t know how this is losing. If this is losing, then give me some more of that.

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