PENN QUARTER -- Oyamel
is well known as a happy hour hotspot thanks in no small part to a lengthy menu of tequila and mezcal-infused cocktails. But stiff drinks (and heaping platters of tacos and churros) weren't the reason why the restaurant was packed full of rabble rousers on Wednesday night.
Rather, the main draw yesterday evening at the Jose Andres eatery was an intimate party celebrating the publishing debut of National Education Association
(NEA) President Lily Eskelsen Garcia
Originally a teacher by trade before making the transition to organized labor and politics, Eskelsen Garcia now sits at the reins of the largest labor union in the United States, with some 3.2 million members belonging to the NEA.
Such social and political clout no doubt helps explain the abundance of VIPs at Wednesday's celebration, which counted everyone from Second Lady Jill Biden
(a fellow lifelong educator) to various members of Congress (Reps. Debbie Dingell, Jared Polis, and Cheri Bustos
) to top Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen
, among others, as guests.
Still, the focus of last night's party remained firmly (and rather playfully) on Eskelsen Garcia's new book: Rabble Rousers: Fearless Fighters for Social Justice Agitadores: Luchadores Valientes por la Justicia
She was inspired to author the 156-page, hardbound tome during her earlier work with school children, most of whom seemed to know more about celebrity culture than some of modern society's greatest leaders. Accessibility is therefore a common theme throughout Rabble Rousers
in that the advocates for social justice being featured (MLK, Mother Jones, Vaclav Havel, Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, etc.) all come from rather humble beginnings ('ordinary people who dared to dream' in the words of the publisher).
Beyond an inspiring read and teaching tool, the book also serves a charitable purpose with all proceeds earmarked for United We Dream
(the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation) and other similarly-minded advocates for social justice. Famed Mexican illustrator Alberto Garcia
(who also happens to be Eskelsen Garcia's husband) even donated his time in designing the portraits featured inside.
And the fruits of such philanthropy were visible firsthand at Wednesday's celebration, with a $16,201.80 check presented to the nonprofit as Dr. Biden and guests cheerfully looked on.
That buys a lot of rabble rousing in our book.