The AFT's three national officers closed out the 2016 convention July 21 by thanking the delegates for their support and urging them to keep working together to move the country forward, in the November elections and beyond.
"I am honored and humbled by your vote of confidence," said AFT President Randi Weingarten. "I will try—we will try—to earn that confidence every day."
After outlining some of the resolutions delegates passed—on the Every Student Succeeds Act, healthcare consolidation, college affordability, safe communities, confronting discrimination and more—she urged them to turn their attention to November.
"While we've been here laying out our vision of inclusion and prosperity for all, there's another convention happening in Cleveland. That convention couldn't be more different, and its central message is fear," she said. "Our job in November is to elect our candidate and people who share our values up and down the ticket. But our other job is to resoundingly reject the party that is explicitly normalizing violence, misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, nativism and hatred. The way we do that is by electing Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the next president."
Said AFT Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson: "This week we have reaffirmed our commitment to reclaim the promise from generation to generation. And more importantly, we will all leave this convention hall charged up with the energy necessary to take back our public schools, our hospitals, our colleges and universities, and our communities for the better."
AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker said it's time for the union to stop being defined by other people's stories of us. "It is time for us to tell our own story."
It's a story "that names our union, the American Federation of Teachers, as a powerful force for justice, innovation and equity," she said. "This is a true story. It's not fiction. It's our story."
[Dan Gursky/photo by Michael Campbell]