On the 84th birthday of one of the most inspirational figures in United States history, a group of around 40 people convened in San Jose on the corner of the St. James Park to have a discussion about his legacy, as well as the state of current corporate personhood in the country. The rally was led by the county’s Move to Amend organization whose goal was to inform and organize volunteers to help push for a new amendment which would challenge the very intricately corporation-leaning government.
People wore top hats emblazoned with political pins and flags. One volunteer held a large American flag that waved effortlessly on the slightly windy afternoon. As a speaker passionately uplifted the group with facts about the rise of corporations in government, people cheered as if a battle cry was announced. This rally not only exemplified the fight in the Bay Area to demand benefits from the government, but also pushed the agenda started by Dr. King and his efforts in civil rights movement. The idea that people, not money or companies, should come first and foremost in the creation of policy was all around. Banners and signs being held up had the simple motto, “Corporations are not people. Money is not speech”.
Following this introduction, San Jose Council member Ash Kalra of District 2 delivered a passionate speech on his views on corporate personhood. He referenced a Supreme Court trial of 1886, Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad, which he credits “created the doctrine of corporate personhood.” He demanded the end of corporate personhood and the establishment of new reforms to help people and not companies. He used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s idea in saying that everyone should stand up and continue in his legacy, everything he believed in the last fight of his life.
Later on “I am the voice of reality this morning..MTA is a grassroots effort. It’s not going to happen from Washington. It’s going to happen from regular people like us in small gatherings like this multiplied over and over, county by county, state by state.“ said John Purrieta, a member of the organization who was inspired by the group and its energy, but was also there to help realize the difficulties that would come from building momentum for reform.
Following his earnest ,but optimistic speech, came the guest band, Monterey Brass Ensemble. The spirits were high and motives were clear, to honor a great leader through words, and to push forward to a country that fights for human rights and upward mobility, as opposed to companies’ profits.