Byron York attended the One Nation rally and offers an interesting insider’s view:
The union presence was so ubiquitous and so organized that it made for a kind of color coding in the crowd. Looking around, there were large groups of people bunched into separate areas, all wearing the same color T-shirts to mark their union affiliation. There were groups wearing the purple SEIU shirt, others wearing the red CWA shirt, others wearing the blue AFT shirt, and still others wearing green shirts and yellow shirts and so on. There were long rows of tables where union workers sat waiting to get people connected to their groups and their buses. There were thousands of union-printed signs.
Organizers will deny that the march was a total union job, compared to the more grassroots character of tea party gatherings. And it’s true that union allies like the NAACP also played a big part in staging “One Nation Working Together.” But it’s safe to say the rally would have been nothing without labor’s money and organizing strength.
On this beautiful day in Washington, there was just one thing on many minds, but few people seemed eager to admit it. The polls show Republicans headed for substantial gains in the November 2 elections, but most of the people at the rally just couldn’t accept the idea. “It ain’t happening,” said Rose Anderson.
The very idea of it made them angry. “I’m particularly offended by these people who want to take the nation back,” said Maida Odom, who came to the rally from Philadelphia on board a bus chartered by the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees/ AFSCME Local 1199. “I’m saddened that people haven’t risen above their bigotry. If you read the Republican Contract with America, you can see the bigotry in between every line.”
York said that several thousand people attended, but even though Benjamin Jealous was certain One Nation’s numbers would compete with Beck’s it didn’t quite turn out that way. Even with labor’s money and organizing efforts, they just could not match the numbers of Americans who took it upon themselves to head to Washington, DC:
“One Nation” was scheduled to last from noon until 4:00 pm, but a lot of people headed for the exits well before the last speakers took the stage. By 2:45, when Jealous himself was at the microphone, they were streaming for the buses. As they walked, organizers herded people in the right direction. “OPEIU movin’ out! OPEIU movin’ out!” shouted one man, a organizer with the Office and Professional Employees International Union. The unions came, and then they left.
Other groups besides the union members and the NAACP attended, and they went out of their way to make sure their presence was known. Americans for Prosperity captured who these grops were in this video: