Six years ago, fighting for what I believed in meant knocking on doors in the cold to help a freshman senator named Barack Obama become President.
Yesterday, it meant standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a fired-up crowd of activists to demand that President Obama keep his word on climate change. Building the Keystone XL pipeline would mean breaking his promise to slow the rise of the oceans – a promise that kept a lot of us going through the late nights and long hours it took to get him where he is.
Last night we reminded him that we haven’t forgotten that promise.
There were a few dozen of us crowded on the narrow sidewalk along Fullerton when I got there early in the night, and the air was starting to bite. Fortunately, Chicagoans are a hardy breed, and more and more of us kept coming. First we covered a full storefront – soon there were hundreds of us packing two full blocks with people and signs.
I saw some old friends, made some new ones, and stood beside passionate people of all colors and ages. Between the group of ladies my grandmother’s age with the contagious smiles, and the kid chanting (loud!) from her perch in a tree, there was a lot of energy and it kept ramping up as the night went on. There was even our own #NOKXL version of Mount Rushmore where David Koch, Former President Bush, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper were covered in oil and had “Big Oil Profiteer” written on their forehead. President Obama’s head was next to theirs with “Legacy on the Line” written on his forehead.
After a few false starts, the presidential motorcade finally rolled through, all flashing lights and black SUVs, and the fire we’d been building all night came out at the top of our lungs: Hey Obama, yes you can/ Stop this dirty pipeline plan! The news cameras could hear us over all the sirens, and I know the President could too.
Keystone XL will help define Obama’s legacy. We hope that the people who came together last night in his adopted hometown will remind him where he came from and what he stands for. We hope he will keep his promise and do the right thing by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and protecting our air, our water, and our communities.
And until he does that, we’ll keep asking.