Saturday, September 12, 2015

Thank You, Jennifer Epps-Addison!

If you live in Wisconsin, especially in Milwaukee, and have even the slightest interest in social issues and politics, you have probably heard of Jennifer Epps-Addison and her group, Wisconsin Jobs Now.  Jennifer has been a tireless activist in Milwaukee, fighting for such things as raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Sadly, Jennifer and her family are leaving Milwaukee and Wisconsin to address her husband's health concerns.

Jennifer's voice, her passion and her leadership will be sorely missed.  She was not afraid to take it to the streets, taking direct action to address the wrongs and injustices that permeate our society today.  She was not afraid to take it to Republicans or Corporate Democrats alike.

One could tell Jennifer's effectiveness when she was repeatedly smeared from corporate trolls such as the misogynistic, racist Brian Sikma.  Despite these malicious and vile attacks on her and her family from such trolls, she always carries herself with dignity and grace.

Some of the amazing accomplishments that Jennifer has help lead to include:

  • Winning an historic living wage ordinance for Milwaukee County, including successfully defeating state legislature preemption and a veto from County Executive Chris Abele
  • Organizing and supporting hundreds of fast food, retail and home care workers who are fighting for $15 and union rights and changing the national conversation around minimum wage
  • Passing 13 out of 13 minimum wage referendums across the state
  • Being named 2014’s Organization of the Year by Milwaukee County Democratic Party
  • Contributing to the state’s highest voter turnout for a mid-term election in over 60 years by knocking on more than 260,000 doors in 2014
  • Merging with United Wisconsin and combining two of the top statewide organizations dedicated to justice into one united force
I have had the privilege of meeting Jennifer a few times.  Most often is was to hear her speak and on one occasion, I actually got to join her on a panel of speakers.  I have always learned something from Jennifer every time I heard her speak.

One of the things that she taught me that I have really taken to heart was from a speech she gave earlier this year at the commemoration of the Bay View Massacre.

Jennifer said that we needed to stop supporting politicians just because they ask for our support or because they are the lesser of two evils.  We need to reject the politicians who look at us and ask, "How can you help me?"  

Instead, we should spend our time and money supporting the politicians who come to us and ask, "How can I help you?"

Those are the people who will make a difference and who will bring positive changes to our communities and to our state.

Jennifer is one of those types of people.

I personally thank Jennifer for all the good she has done for our city and our state.  We will all miss her and all that she has done.

I also wish her and her family nothing but the best in the future.  

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