Press Release

AFT and Civil Rights, Faith, Progressive and Community Leaders Host ‘United to Reject Hate’ and GOTV Call with 20,000 Activists

For Release: 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Marcus Mrowka
202-531-0689 (cell)

WASHINGTON—Last night, more than 22,000 AFT members, activists, progressive leaders, civil rights leaders and faith leaders joined a national telephone town hall to discuss how, in the wake of political, racist and anti-Semitic attacks, communities are uniting to reject hate and violence and working to get out the vote. The Unite to Reject Hate and GOTV national town hall was hosted by the American Federation of Teachers with more than 30 partners participating. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum concluded the town hall with a prayer of healing, unity and justice. 

Partner Statements

AFT President Randi Weingarten:

“Hateful rhetoric and words of incitement have fueled heinous acts of violence across our nation over the past week—pipe bombs mailed to elected officials and the media, a shooting at Kroger after a failed church attack, another school shooting, and the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in our nation’s history. Political violence that once seemed unimaginable now seems inevitable—the result of hate being normalized and divisions stoked by those in power. This is a moment of crisis for our communities that we have not experienced in decades. We are in pain; but our pain can’t immobilize us. We must act. The most important thing we can do right now is to vote. If anything about what is happening in our country bothers you—vote. This election is a choice between cruelty and decency, fairness and prejudice, democracy and autocracy. We the people can vote for change.”

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn (remarks from the town hall):

“The goodness of this great country is on the ballot this year. We have to get people to understand that this year’s election will be more consequential than any in the last few generations.”

NAACP President Derrick Johnson (remarks from the town hall):

“The election cycle is about the hate we’ve seen in the last week, it is about the loss of civility in our political discourse. And most importantly this election will define democracy in our country for the next 15 years. Turnout is crucial.”

NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue:

“Words have meaning and consequences. And those from the president and his allies over the last few weeks have been beyond dangerous. It is a danger that we in the women’s rights and reproductive freedom world have sadly experienced firsthand. We know that violent rhetoric directly leads to heightened violence. They want us to live in fear. They want us to be paralyzed by fear. But we can’t afford that. This nation can’t afford that. Their path to victory is fear. Our path to victory is overcoming that fear, overcoming the hatred, overcoming the violence.”

For Our Future Action Fund CEO Justin Myers:

“For Our Future is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies and reject hate and violence. Our communities deserve and need a government that represents us all instead of a fringe faction. For Our Future remains committed to fighting for justice for all communities.”

MoveOn Senior Advisor and National Spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre:

“A large and growing majority is alarmed at the direction this country has taken. We reject division and hate. We are fighting for a better future—one in which everyone is respected, and in which everyone can thrive. We are energized, we are mobilized, and we are determined to make our voices heard at the ballot box Nov. 6.”

Voto Latino President Maria Teresa Kumar:

“This midterm election is a referendum on our values and priorities. Americans are flooding the ballot box and turning out in record numbers this midterm. Latinx voters are no exception. Through the Somos Mas campaign that Voto Latino launched to register 1 million voters by 2020, we’ve already shattered our goal for this year, registering 200,000 voters and counting. This is what those who peddle hate for political expediency fear—they know that when our community is motivated and organized, we can collectively right the direction of our country. Our call to action: It’s not enough to vote; pledge to take a friend.”

Coalition of Labor Union Women President Elise Bryant: 

“The time is now, the place is here. Together we will stop the cycle of fear with the unstoppable force of love and solidarity. We will march, we will sing, we will get out the vote for ‘liberty and justice for all’!”

United States Hispanic Leadership Institute President Dr. Juan Andrade Jr:

“The number of people spewing hate is growing daily and fueling acts of violence, and we must unite to diffuse the effects of hatemongering speech. To paraphrase Voltaire, ‘If a person can make you believe absurdities, a person can drive you to commit atrocities.’ We must unite to stop such speech and violence from spreading in America, and let’s show the world that hatemongers don’t speak for us. We’re better than this.”

Human Rights Campaign Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof:

“Tragedies like Saturday’s anti-Semitic attack in Pittsburgh or the recent shooting at a Kroger grocery don’t happen in a vacuum; they often intersect with vile hatred and bigotry that has been mainstreamed and allowed to fester. The LGBTQ community knows too well the danger and destruction that can occur when an unstable individual, who has been conditioned to hate, gains easy access to military-style weapons, and our hearts are with all those impacted by the recent, tragic spate of violence. But we cannot remain silent. As a society, we must turn our anger into action by holding accountable lawmakers and other public officials who vilify and scapegoat marginalized communities through hateful rhetoric and legislation, because they are complicit in the violence fueled by their words and actions. We need leadership now. We need leaders who will reject the politics of hate and fear, rather than fuel divisive rhetoric that could result in more senseless attacks or deaths. We must continue to demand action until our lawmakers hear us—and we must make our voices heard at the ballot box on Nov. 6 and elect new lawmakers who will.”

UltraViolet Co-Founder and Executive Director Shaunna Thomas:

“As our communities mourn a series of vile acts of right-wing terrorism, we mourn with them. But we will not let acts of hate divide and intimidate us. Together, we must reject this hate, and come Nov. 6, we will do so at the ballot box.” 

AFT member and Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Sarah Lerner:

“As an English and journalism teacher and yearbook adviser at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., I’m unbelievably proud of the students at my school. They have taken the event that happened and immediately enacted advocacy and change. They created the March for Our Lives, Students for Change, and the Student Gun Violence Summit. And they have used their voices to show strength and truth in their journalism and reporting. We all continue to fight for the 17 Eagles we lost on 2/14.”

Full List of Partners

African American Leadership Council

American Federation of Teachers

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Black Women’s Roundtable

Board of Hispanic Caucus Chairs

Center for Popular Democracy

Coalition of Labor Union Women

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (New York City)

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

Emerge America

For Our Future

Hispanic Federation

Hispanic Heritage Foundation

Human Rights Campaign

Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

League of United Latin American Citizens

MANA, a National Latina Organization




NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Council of Negro Women

National Domestic Workers Alliance

National Immigration Law Center

Partnership for Working Families

Pride at Work

Rainbow PUSH Coalition


UndocuBlack Network

United States Hispanic Leadership Institute

Voto Latino

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.