Top Ten Highlights from the People’s Summit in Chicago

Peoples Summit

By Katie Gjertson

Katie Gjertson
Katie Gjertson
MNA Political Coordinator

MNA Political Coordinator

This past June 9 – 11, more than 4,000 of my closest friends and strongest allies (nurses, community members, Bernie supporters, environmentalists, activists, and big-name speakers) got together to collaborate, plan, share ideas and strategies, and generally be inspired by one another. Here are my top ten favorite moments from the People’s Summit in Chicago that will maybe inspire more to come next year!

  1. Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner. Wow! Nina Turner is my hero! Nina had several speaking opportunities on stage, but, hands-down, the highlight was her Sunday morning talk titled, “Wake-up for Justice.” Nina, in a dress and tennis shoes, worked the crowd, roaming up and down the aisles as she talked about the movement moment we are in while drawing connections to the American Revolution and the Civil Rights movement. To get a feel for how powerful, inspiring, and hopeful Nina Turner’s message is, watch this video and skip ahead to 13:23. A notable quote from Nina’s talk, “be hard on the issues, but soft on each other.”
  2. The leaders of the Women’s March on Washington were there! Linda Sarsour from the Arab American Association and Carmen Perez from the Justice League were panelists and both were co-founders of the historic Women’s March, along with Bob Bland.
  3. Bernie Sanders. The man, the movement and pretty much the reason this whole conference was organized. His speech here starts at 7:32 and can be summed up by his quote, “you understood something that the establishment – the pundits and the corporate media did not know and still do not know – and that is that the American people are profoundly sick and tired of establishment politics and establishment economics.”
  4. Everyday Activists’ Stories. The conference day always opened up with short vignettes of everyday activists sharing their stories of resilience, organizing, and resistance. These stories really helped set center the conference around real people’s stories.
  5. Van Jones. Van Jones from Dream Corps gave a speech titled “Transformation, Opportunity and Justice.” I’m just gonna leave that one right here for your viewing pleasure.
  6. The venue. The McClintock Place at Chicago was beautiful and National Nurses United did an incredible job with set-up and design. Being able to catch some sunshine overlooking Lake Michigan in between education sessions was a nice respite.
  7. The Quotes! So many inspiring quotes everywhere; here are some of the best: “Everybody In, Nobody Out” – a simple and clear quote for Single Payer Health Care.” “Radical simply means grasping things at the root,” – Angela Davis. “Understand that in a political strategy, we are going to have losses and to not get discouraged by it. Elections are just a tool in our tool box,” – Erin Evans, The Sanders Institute. “Resistance is critical, but it’s not enough. We need a people’s movement for equality and transformative politics,” – Nina Turner.
  8. Short Films. Being around 4,000+ people for a long time is exhausting! Thankfully, there was dark room that had more than 20 short videos by contemporary artists on loop. From the description of “Artist Takes,” it was described as using “a variety of narrative forms to deepen awareness and unravel hidden layers of oppressive systems that are currently affecting society.” Very nice!
  9. People Watching. The People’s Summit had the feel of a huge grassroots political party convention, complete with lots of buttons, swag, and yes, some crazy costumes. I saw lots of Bernie swag, including a guy in a Bernie onesie, “she persisted” tattoos, and lots of cool slogans on t-shirts.
  10. The Minnesota Break-out Session. An MNA partner, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), co-led the Minnesota break-out session and gave an inspiring update on the $15 minimum wage campaign they are leading in Minneapolis.


How about next year?



1 Comment

  1. If you have never gone before, catch it next year. I was inspired, moved, motivated, and in awe of our youth who came out in force. The highest percentage of the total attendance was under 35 years old.

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