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10th Annual May Immigrant Justice and Solidarity Rally; Annual Parade in Celebration of Polish Constitution Day

On Sunday, May 1st, the first event that we attended was the 10th Annual May Immigrant Justice and Solidarity Rally that took place in Roberto Clemente Park at the intersection of West 38th Street and Seymour Avenue. IMG_0632 It was sponsored by the Lorain Ohio Immigrant Rights Organization (LOIRA), Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network and Cleveland Jobs with Justice. About 50 people from all over turned out including Mr. Mark Bailey from the United Methodist Church in Elyria and Mr. Dan and Ms. Kathy Phillips who attend St.Mary's Church in Painesville.

The rally was coordinated by the respected activist Mr. Don Bryant who kicked it off by stating that this signified the coming together of working families on behalf of immigrant and worker rights. This included not only undocumented immigrants from Latin American countries but also refugees from such countries as Syria that several governors do not want to settle in their states because they posed an alleged security risk which was hard to believe considering the intensive screening process that they already undergo.

Mr. Bryant then introduced the main speaker who was Mr. Jose Mendiola, president of the LOIRA. Mr. Mendiola saidIMG_0642 that our immigration system has a lot of problems but the deporting undocumented immigrants will not take care of the problem. Instead it will damage immigrant families and be unduly harsh and painful. Moreover, the only suitable remedy for the problem would be comprehensive immigration reform which would involve the President and Congress to put aside their differences and work together to end the injustices of our broken immigration system.

Mr. Mendiola then talked about visiting a detention center in Texas which he termed a "baby jail" where he conversed with women from Central America who were being detained and learned that many of them decided to attempt to come to the United States with their children out of fear of abusive husbands and gangs. To be sure, they had tried to obtain assistance from the local IMG_0633Central American authorities but nothing was done.

As for DACA and DAPA, Mr. Mendiola certainly favors them and was confidant that they would eventually prevail in court but, on their own, they were mere band aids. Once again, he contended that we must force our elected officials to bring immigration reform to the table.

What's more, Mr. Mendiola believed that "we will prevail because our hearts are in the right place, and we care about the rights of others. He concluded by saying that we do not need "a racist presidential candidate" to tell us that America is great because we already know that it is great!

After the rally, most of those present were planning to take part in a one mile march through the Clark-Fulton neighborhood to the Catholic Worker storefront near 42nd Street and Lorain Avenue. We would have loved to take part in the march but we had another event to attend.

And that other event was the annual parade in Parma in celebration of Polish Constitution Day which honors the signing of the Polish Constitution on May 3, 1791 which was; as noted in an article by Prof. Rett R. Ludwikowski that appeared in a booklet passed out at the parade; "not only the first European written constitution, but for generations IMG_0666of Poles, it became a symbol of a mature political culture. It left an important legacy..." because, even though it was drafted by the nobility, it was meant to serve the entire nation and "confirmed the democratic traditions of the Polish political culture."

Along these lines there were quite a few happenings taking place on this day such as a laying of a wreath at the Casimir Pulaski Monument, lunch at the Polish American Cultural Center, masses at St. John Cantius and St. Charles Churches, a Chopin piano concert at St. Stanislaus, and another parade that took place earlier in Slavic Village.

When we arrived we parked close to the Unity Catholic Credit Union (where the parade after party would take place) and hiked up Ridge Road to watch the parade at its beginning.

IMG_0662 Upon arrival we congratulated the Grand Marshal, Ms. Eugenia Stolarczyk who we saw earlier in the week when she was honored at the Hall of Fame dinner. Another familiar face taking part in the parade was Ms. Andrea Nelson Moore, candidate for Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge, who we had seen at two other events in the past week including the previous evening's "Celebration of Hope."


Among the other people/organizations taking part in the Parma parade where Mayor Tim DeGeeter and several members of the Parma City Council, the Ohio division of the Polish American Congress, the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, the Henryk Sienkiewicz Polish School, St. Mary's Polish National Catholic Church, St. Barbara Church, Ridgewood United Methodist Church, Judges Maureen Clancy and Francine Goldberg, Maria Konopnicka's Polish School, the Living Traditions Folk Ensemble, the Normandy Invader Marching Band, and the Southwest Italian American Club.IMG_0670


Afterwards, we walked back to the Unity Catholic Credit Union where we danced a few polkas played by Northcoast Mix and consumed (that's the word) some perogies as we listened to a brief program conducted by Rev. Eric Orzech, President of the Polish American Congress-Ohio Division which included some cute recitals in Polish by adorable young children in costume.

As the program wrapped up, Father Orzech urged us all to continue to have a good time because the music was great, the food was delicious, and "the beer is cold!"




Michael Patterson 

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC.


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