ELEVATE THE 28!
—State Senator Lola Smallwood-Cuevas is sworn in

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Last month, the community celebrated the swearing in of a new State Senator to represent our diverse and dynamic District 28. Esteemed speakers from the LA Black Worker Center, the UCLA Labor Center, SEIU, and the Los Angeles Worker Center Network described Lola Smallwood-Cuevas as an organizer, as a bringer of light, and as a group-centered leader. Pastor Stephen Cue spoke of her as one who had “…made a way out of no way which is how Black women have always done it.”
She is going to Sacramento to change the way things are to the way things should be.
Our new Congressional Representative Sydney Kamlager-Dove was there to pass the torch of “speaking truth to remind power that it can do better.” Sydney charged us all to stand behind Lola who will still be the only Black woman in the State Senate and only the sixth Black woman in that body since California statehood.
One very specific way that Lola will be carrying that torch is in re-introducing ACA 3—the California Abolition Act that Sydney had first proposed in the State Assembly. The California Abolition Act would amend Article 1, Section 6 of the California Constitution to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude without exception. Inmate labor is often compensated for as little as 8 cents an hour. Inmate fire fighters risk their lives for little pay and no possibility of being hired as professional fire fighters upon release. Lola asks, “How is that not a workers’ rights issue?”
Our County Supervisor Holly Mitchell was on hand to swear her in. Holly exhorted us to stand behind Lola and to either side of her. She said “The microaggressions don’t stop when they put the word ‘Senator’ in front of your name.” Microaggressions like “Are you the lobbyist or the staffer?” And hair patting.
In her inaugural address, Lola clearly signaled that she was taking her commitment to workers’ rights and civil rights with her to the Senate. Her very first bill as a Senator is SB16-Civil Rights:Discrimination:Enforcement, which would allow for local enforcement of state laws prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment.
She hopes to shore up Prop 47—the 2014 ballot measure to decrease incarceration for nonviolent crime.
Among her priorities will be investing in community schools, housing the unhoused, and “putting dollars where the real problems are. We are digging out from 40 years of trickle down and underinvestment.”
She acknowledged the hard work ahead saying that “We can never do anything alone but collectively we can do it all.” And so she called on us all to join her in an “Elevate the 28 Coalition.”
Let’s support her!