For immediate release
February 27, 2017
Tour featuring Jones and workers sends movement-building message: “When We Rise and Unite, We Win”
San Francisco—Tonight kicks off the first episode of ABC’s critically acclaimed mini-series When We Rise, inspired the life of and book by Cleve Jones, a longtime LGBTQ and labor activist. Using the mini-series as a launch pad, this year Cleve Jones is traveling the country and sharing the spotlight with members of UNITE HERE – a labor union representing thousands of cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers and other hospitality workers across North America.
“We are living in pivotal moment in the life of America, when every American must stand up and fight for what it means to be an American. I want the message of When We Rise to be enduring – to be a living, breathing call to action —something that has life long after the mini-series concludes this week. If we want to combat the powers that be who want strong-arm us out of our civil rights at every turn, we need to come together and form unlikely partnerships,” said Jones. “Through real grassroots organizing, UNITE HERE has mobilized African Americans in the fight for immigrant rights; Latino workers for marriage equality; white, working class men to campaign against the bully Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The fight for livable wages, access to affordable health care and rights at work gives us common cause – regardless of our race or gender, creed or orientation. It is essential for all of us to embrace the notion that when we rise and unite, we win.”
The ABC series When We Rise chronicles the U.S. gay rights movement through the real-life stories of activists Roma Guy, Ken Jones, Sally Gearhart, Cecilia Chung and UNITE HERE’s Cleve Jones. The series, a production by Executive Producers Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black, will air tonight at 9pm ET.
Jones is a long-time labor and LGBTQ activist and author of When We Rise: My Life in the Movement (Hachette 2016), which serves as partial inspiration for the mini-series. He is the co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS coalition and the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Since 2005, Jones has been a Community and Political Coordinator with UNITE HERE, the North American hospitality workers’ union.
Through his partnership with UNITE HERE, Cleve has led LGBTQ and labor coalitions in taking on some of the toughest corporations in the hospitality industry. He has also worked to make the labor movement more inclusive of LGBTQ workers via the insertion of LGBTQ safeguards in union contracts to protect workers from workplace discrimination. These protections can be enforced even in places where no such protections exist in the law. In the coming months, UNITE HERE members will join Cleve Jones as he tours the country, sharing his story and vision captured in When We Rise.
A website, WhenWeRise.org, launching today, showcases Jones’ partnership with UNITE HERE and gives supporters an opportunity to join the movement.
“Our Union is thrilled that millions of viewers across the country will have the opportunity to learn about Cleve’s story,” said UNITE HERE President D. Taylor, “Cleve’s work with UNITE HERE has been instrumental in advancing the rights of not only LGBTQ workers, but also African-American, Latino, immigrant and native-born workers across North America. We are so honored that he continues to stand with us.”
On Tuesday, February 28th at 9:00pmET/6:00pmPT, UNITE HERE is also hosting a Facebook Live Event with Cleve Jones. The four-part When We Rise series was originally scheduled to air over four consecutive nights, but will be pre-empted on Tuesday evening by President Trump’s first congressional address. As an alternative, UNITE HERE will host Mr. Jones in the Facebook Live event at to discuss his life in the movement for social justice, and share some behind-the-scenes stories from the mini-series and book.
UNITE HERE is a North American labor union with 270,000 members working in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.