CADEM Progressive Caucus Chair Fatima Iqbal-Zubair’s Speech at the Progressive Caucus Meeting in San Diego

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    Good evening, fellow progressives!
    I stand before you today with a message that is not just urgent, but pivotal for our future. We are at a crossroads, and the decisions we make at this time will shape the path our state and nation take for generations to come.

    I want to give a heartfelt shoutout to the peaceful protests happening across the nation in college campuses, calling for divestment and accountability regarding Israel’s war crimes. These movements are a testament to the power of collective action and the unyielding demand for justice and investing in policies for working class communities over military spending, and especially spending that is unconditional and violating human rights. This is a pivotal moment in history that won’t be forgotten. Our voices are shaping the future, and our commitment to human rights and dignity for all people is unwavering and unapologetic.

    With elections in November, electing progressives, especially in down-ballot races, is more critical than ever. These races often fly under the radar, but they are the heartbeat of our democracy to ensure we center people over profits and human rights for all. City councils, school boards, and county supervisors—they are where the policies that impact our daily lives take root. When we elect progressive leaders to these positions, we pave the way for systemic change from the ground up. So pay attention to your down ballot races

    This election, we also face a critical fight: defeating the oil setbacks referendum. The oil industry is pouring millions into deceptive campaigns to overturn protections that keep our communities safe from toxic pollution. We cannot allow corporate greed to override the health and safety of our children, our neighborhoods, and our environment. By standing together and voting NO on this referendum, we can send a clear message that our health is not for sale.

    As a former teacher in Watts, I was inspired by the environmental injustices I witnessed to do more for my community. Now, working in Sacramento as an advocate, I see firsthand the power of grassroots activism and the importance of making sure the progressive movement is intersectional. We must dismantle racism and classism, decolonize our institutions, and fight all forms of oppression. We cannot stand for some human rights and turn our back on others. This commitment to comprehensive justice is what sets our movement apart and we must not waver.

    We’ve seen it time and time again—progressive policies work and win at the polls. It’s the reason supporting a ceasefire has overwhelming support when Democrats are polled. From Medicare for All to the Green New Deal to fighting for peace and freedom for all—these are the solutions that are not only rooted in justice and equity but ones that working class families want to see, which will bring real change they can feel day to day. They are not just popular; they are necessary. While single-payer healthcare did not succeed this session, we must not give up. We owe it to every Californian to ensure that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Thank you to all who have been and are part of this historic fight.

    Another critical issue this legislative session is passing the reparations package for the descendants of slaves. This is about acknowledging the historical injustices and systemic racism that have plagued our nation, and taking concrete steps towards justice and equity. We also need to focus on pivotal bills in our state legislature, like SB 252, which aims to divest public funds from the fossil fuel industry. In a budget deficit year, it is more important than ever to end $9 billion in oil and gas subsidies and corporate handouts. Our budget should reflect our values, and it is time to invest in our communities, not in polluting industries.

    California claims to be the bastion of change and progress, but we must put our money and our policies where our mouth is. We must continue to lead the way in speaking out for justice, climate policies, affordable housing, taxing the wealthy, and holding corporations accountable. Our state has the power to set the standard for the rest of the country.

    We will win in November and beyond if we embrace progressive policies. We will win by showing that our vision for the future is inclusive, sustainable, and just.

    Let’s keep pushing forward, let’s keep organizing, and let’s keep fighting for the future we know is possible and within reach. Thank you, and onward to victory in November and for freedom for Palestine, peace and safety for all people.