Last week Assemblymember Rob Bonta (AD 18) honored Oakland Rising and Oakland Rising Action’s Executive Director, Jessamyn Sabbag, with the Local Hero Award, calling her a “true moral compass for Oakland.” Jessamyn was recognized for her commitment, perseverance, skill, and leadership which have been critical to building political participation and power for Oakland’s working-class residents of color over the last eight years. Her work has been paramount to building a voter base of more than 62,000 people who support our social justice values and policies, leading to policy victories that were not previously possible. Oakland’s elected leaders recognize Jessamyn’s leadership and respect her ability to mobilize the social justice community.
But Jessamyn was not alone in receiving recognition. Asm. Rob Bonta – author of numerous progressive bills including ones to reform California’s money bail system, increase youth civic participation, and protect and expand immigrant rights – honored those in his district dedicated to lifting up and advocating for racial and economic justice. Recipients included a number of Oakland Rising allies. The Woman of the Year award went to Pamela Price, a renowned civil rights attorney and member of our Lead East Bay cohort. Parent Voices Oakland, one of our collaborative members, received an award for Outstanding Organization for its work to make child care accessible and affordable for all families. Our partner in our Values-Based Leadership program, the Alameda Labor Council, received a Coalition of Excellence award for its economic and social justice work.
It is not every day that hard work and commitment are recognized. Often those of us in the social justice movement work tirelessly on campaign after campaign against well-resourced opponents with no expectation that the work will get any easier despite the victories that we win. But we continue forward and onward because of our dedication to our communities who we serve. Given all of this, it makes it that much sweeter when our local government officials take a moment to reflect upon and honor leaders in our movement.