Member Interview: Organizing Good Trouble with SEJ Committee Chair Derrick Boutte
“Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
–U.S. Representative John Lewis, Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama, March 1, 2020
Every three years, the leadership of SEIU 1021 organizes a convention where members gather, build community, and lay the foundation for our organizing in the years to come. You can learn more about this year’s convention at 1021convention.org.
This year’s theme pays homage to the late civil-rights organizer and member of Congress John Lewis. The statement for the 2021 convention captures the boldness that former U.S. Representative Lewis was so well known for: Organize Good Trouble – Our Voices Are Loud, Our Unity is Fearless, Our Time is Now.
SEIU 1021 Social and Economic Justice (SEJ) Committee Chair Derrick Boutte spoke about the intersectionality of the civil rights and labor movements in the United States, what the legacy of John Lewis means to him, and why this year’s convention is honoring him.
“John Lewis fought the good fight, the necessary fight. The civil rights movement was, and remains, the fight for equality, justice, and securing the rights given to every single person by this country’s constitution. Mr. Lewis put himself on the frontlines like our members do every day, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The cause of the civil rights movement and that of the labor movement is the same: galvanizing and bringing people together and building coalitions to fight injustice, including white supremacy. Labor allows us to come together and build solidarity across races, just like Mr. Lewis fought to bring under-represented, low-income, and diverse communities together to fight for dignity and respect.
Participation in the convention process is absolutely vital. History is education. We, as a movement, need to know where we come from and who came before us. Learning from Mr. Lewis’ work can inspire our members across the local. His legacy is important to the history of the United States of America. If we are going to get into ‘good trouble,’ as he so often said, we have to be educated. We have to learn from the past and continue the journey. The convention allows us to honor his legacy, use his work, and continue his fight. We have to push forward the groundwork laid out by Mr. Lewis because many of the same issues around achieving civil rights remain today. When you are in the thick of the fight, it is hard to look back at all the progress you have made. That is why the convention is essential. We can look back and see how far we have come and how far we have yet to go.
John Lewis’s leadership inspires me as the Chair of the SEIU 1021 Social and Economic Justice Committee. SEIU 1021, and the greater labor movement, must be dedicated to fighting for fair contracts and safe working conditions, but also the dignity and respect of all workers, no matter their background, just like the civil rights movement. It is about equality, opportunity, and human rights. I will keep fighting the good fight and getting in good trouble for as long as I can until I can’t anymore.”
Please make sure to save the date for the 2021 SEIU 1021 convention taking place via Zoom on Saturday, September 25, 2021.