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‘Something Big Is About to Happen’

NEA member Evelyn Fabito works three jobs to make ends meet. When it comes to the next presidential election, we can’t let her down.
Evelyn Fabito and Lily Eskelsen Garcia
“We will not allow our opponents to divide us. We will unite and inspire. We will act, and we will not be silent.” —Lily Eskelsen Garcia

I remember the exact moment that I first became convinced those words were true.

It was January 2019. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited representatives of constituency groups—those who had been disrespected by the Trump administration—to the State of the Union (SOTU) address. I went representing educators and students.

Before the SOTU, there was a reception in Speaker Pelosi’s office. People I didn’t always recognize were saying hello to me. I was saying, “How are you?” while actually wondering, “Who are you?” Honestly, it made me a little nervous.

Eventually, a woman caught my eye. She started walking toward me wearing a big smile. She seemed really happy to see me. All I could think was “Who is she?

“Lily!” she says, but I cannot remember her name. She says, “I’ve always wanted to meet you,” and I think, “Oh, good. She hasn’t met me. I’m not supposed to know her name.”

Then, I see she’s holding dirty dishes. She is a server at the reception.

Still smiling, she says she feels badly that she won’t be in Houston for

the NEA Representative Assembly this year, but adds she’s hoping she’ll “get elected to the next one. I love going to the RA!” she says.

“You’re one of my members,” I say. She says she’s “always been a member,” and teaches in Prince George’s County, Md. “I’ve always wanted to meet you,” she says.

I ask if this is her second job, and she tells me it’s actually her third. “I do a lot of these events,” she says. “But tonight, I see all these important people and I see you—the NEA president—right here with them. And I just know, something big is going to happen.”

Those words flipped my brain around. They changed my heart.

Immediately, Evelyn Fabito became the most important person in that room filled with “important” people.

There is no way that I am going to let her down. Something big is going to happen and Evelyn and the 3 million members of NEA are going to be a part of it.

It won’t be because someone rescues us. It will be because we will show up. We will use our collective power to listen and learn, teach and reach, engage, organize, and convince.

We will not allow our opponents to divide us. We will unite and inspire. We will act, and we will not be silent.

For generations, educators have built this nation’s future. Now, we must show the world what democracy looks like. We must reclaim and reset the moral and educational compass of our nation. We must lead the way so that each of our students can have the bright future they deserve.

We must get to work.

National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.