×

Michael Moore Calls for a Cultural Clean-Sweep at Starry ‘People’s State of the Union’

Mark Ruffalo invoked a positive vision for America’s future, Common rapped about Trayvon Martin and Michael Moore called for a cultural clean-sweep at “People’s State of the Union,” the Manhattan performance and soapbox that saw a starry array of activists and artists — including Mark Ruffalo, Amy Schumer, Rosie Perez, Cynthia Nixon and John Leguizamo — rally the progressive movement on the night before President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. A rowdy, nearly-full house at midtown’s Town Hall turned up for performances by Andra Day, Common and Rufus Wainwright, along with issue-focused speeches by celebrity names and in-the-trenches activists alike.

“We must remove and replace the system and the culture that gave us Trump in the first place,” Moore said in a roof-raising speech toward the end of the evening. “He did not just fall out of the sky and land in Queens. He is the result of a decades-long corporate takeover of our democracy and of us, never correcting the three orignal sins of America: A nation founded on genocide, built on the backs of slaves, and maintained by the subjugation of women.”

“The one silver lining in Trump is that we have created the mother of all movements,” said Ruffalo, one of the event’s organizers, at the start of an evening that touched on threads of activism including the Dream Act, civil rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, women’s rights and labor rights. Nodding to the celebrity that allows him and the other boldface names onstage to bring attention to the activists who spoke during the show, Ruffalo vowed the fight wouldn’t end with the current presidency.

“We’ll strengthen our bonds and commitments to each other for long after the Trump era comes to its rightful end,” he said. “We aren’t stopping with Trump.”

New York City mayor Bill deBlasio also made an appearance to fire up the troops. “You want to know the state of the union? The state of the union is the people are fired up,” he said. “In this age, the people are recognizing their own power.”

Kathy Najimy, introducing the evening’s segment about women’s rights, nodded to Gloria Steinem in the crowd, who got a quick standing ovation from the audience. “F— locker room talk,” she declared, citing #MeToo, pay parity, Time’s Up and the Women’s March, one of the founders of which, Paola Mendoza, was introduced by Najimy.

“The question is, now that this movement has been birthed, how do we sustain it?” Mendoza asked, encouraging the advancement of all progressive issues through marching, protesting and voting. She also called on the Latino community to band together. “Our undocumented brothers and sisters can’t vote, so we must vote for them.” (Later in the evening, speakers Fisher Stevens and Gina Gershon both won T-shirts that said “We are all dreamers.”)

“You put a brother in ‘Star Wars,’” Common said at the podium during a segment about civil rights. “Maybe you need two.” He then introduced Dejuana Thompson, the founder of Woke Vote, the organization that played a role in getting out the vote in the special election in Alabama.

“We are no longer begging to be on your agenda,” Thompson said. “We are creating our own.”

Andra Day performed two tunes, including “Stand Up For Something,” the song from the film “Marshall” she performed with Common. Later in the evening, Rufus Wainwright played Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

Leguizamo, there for immigrant rights, cracked, “This president makes me long for Ronald Reagan.” He introduced Christina Jimenez of the immigrant youth network United We Dream. “We and our families are undocumented, unafraid, and here to stay,” she said, nodding to the organization’s fight to get the Dream Act passed.

She also spoke out against the immigration plan that Trump would try to sell in the State of the Union. “This Trump plan is nothing more than a white supremacist ransom note,” she said. “We must reject it.”

“Our American democracy is under attack, and we Americans need to not only cherish and protect it, but to fight for it,” said Nixon, calling to protect the Trump-Russia investigation. “We must make the firing of Robert Mueller a stark line in the sand, and if Trump crosses it we must take to the streets as never before and make inaction untenable for every elected leader.”

Moore’s speech culminated in a new to-do list for 2018, a sequel to the list he gave progressives at the same time last year, including a “massive removal of Republicans from the House and the Senate” and supporting the impeachment campaign. “Don’t worry about Pence, first things first,” he said. “Let me take care of Pence!”

The night was a launch event for activist organization We Stand United.

More Politics

  • Roger Stone, longtime advisor to President

    Robert Mueller's Team Denies Roger Stone's Claim That It Tipped Off CNN to His Arrest

    WASHINGTON — Special Counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors denied that they prematurely released a draft of the indictment of Roger Stone and said claims that CNN was tipped off to his arrest are “without merit.” Stone was arrested on Jan. 25 on charges of giving misleading testimony to Congress and intimidating a witness, but [...]

  • Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris 'Frustrated and Disappointed' by Jussie Smollett Allegedly Staging Attack

    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has spoken out against Jussie Smollett after the “Empire” actor was charged by police for allegedly filing a false police report. “Like most of you, I’ve seen the reports about Jussie Smollett, and I’m sad, frustrated, and disappointed,” Harris said in a statement posted Thursday on Twitter. “When anyone makes false [...]

  • Ajit Pai net neutrality vote

    Congress Orders FCC Review of TV Content Ratings

    WASHINGTON — The FCC is being directed to review the 22-year-old TV content ratings system to gauge its accuracy. The review was part of the recently passed spending bill that funds the government through Sept. 30. It requires that the FCC report back to the House and Senate appropriations committee within 90 days “on the [...]

  • Maxine Waters

    Maxine Waters Reacts to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'I Would Be Disappointed' if It's a Hoax

    Maxine Waters said she “would be disappointed” if it’s proven that her friend Jussie Smollett staged his own attack. Speaking with Variety‘s Marc Malkin on Thursday at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood Awards, the U.S. representative from California said, “If in fact it’s a hoax, of course I would be disappointed.” Smollett faces one felony [...]

  • Roger Stone, longtime advisor to President

    Judge Bars Roger Stone From Talking Publicly About Russia Investigation

    WASHINGTON — Roger Stone was prohibited from commenting any about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation — including the charges that he faces. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson placed new restrictions on Stone after he posted a picture of her on Instagram earlier this week that featured a photo of her and of a [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Celebrities, Politicians React to Jussie Smollett Arrest: 'This Story Is Pathetic'

    Following the arrest of Jussie Smollett on Thursday, with the “Empire” star facing charges of filing a false police report and disorderly conduct after allegedly staging an attack, celebrities and politicians were quick to weigh in on social media. President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning, “What about MAGA and the tens of millions of people [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content