(Video by Ove Overmyer) Washington, D.C.-- The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place 50 years ago on August 28th at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. It was during this march that Dr. King gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech that has reverberated for decades. While we celebrate all that was achieved in the 50 years since that march, we recognize that the “Dream” has not been fulfilled and the battle for justice is ongoing.
The name of the march on August 24th is the “National Action to Realize the Dream March”. It is important that you use the name when speaking about the march so that people understand that this march is not just a commemoration, but a continuation of the efforts 50 years ago.
The talking points for the march are below:
- Jobs & the Economy – Jobs are still a major focus of the march 50 years later. Unemployment is still plaguing many communities. The black community still sees double the unemployment rates of the rest of the country. Youth unemployment is nearly six times higher.
- Voting Rights – Voting Rights have been thrust to the forefront of the agenda after the Supreme Court dismantled a crucial section of the Voting Rights Act. Now, without protections to keep states with a history of disenfranchising voters, those states are left susceptible to new laws that threaten to keep them from the polls. This after winning crucial battles in 2012 against misleading claims of voter fraud.
- Workers’ Rights – Workers’ Rights have been under attack in states across this country. Low wage earners in certain industries have been banned the right to unionize and collectively bargain for fair pay, benefits and other protections. Others who have been protected have had their rights attacked or taken away through the introduction and passage of bills that threaten workers’ protections.
- Criminal Justice Issues, Stand Your Ground Laws & Gun Violence – The Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander cases put Stand Your Ground laws under the microscope. The cases brought to light the inequalities that lie within its interpretation and the fact that it is in place in a majority of states underscores that we must fight to repeal the laws. Gun violence has been an issue in low income communities for years, but the Sandy Hook tragedy created an urgency to address gun laws. While Congress failed to act on sensible gun legislation, we must continue to demand action. Other criminal justice issues include sentencing disparities, the prison pipeline and racial profiling.
- Women’s Rights – Women continue to have to fight laws that limit their ability to make decisions about their own health. Many states have legislation that has either recently passed or that has been introduced that eliminates a woman’s right to choose even in instances of incest, rape or health. Women are also still making less than male counterparts but living longer. The implications of this are numerous but keep women in vulnerable positions.
- Immigration – Immigration reform has been discussed for many years, but gained traction in the recent months with the introduction and passage of a bill in Senate. While it has stalled in the House, this legislation will have a huge, positive impact on the economy and create civil rights for the millions of immigrants living in this country. Despite the fact that many immigrants are Latino, this is not just a Latino issue – it is an American issue and affects many immigrant communities including blacks and Asians. We need to grant citizenship to the many immigrants who are here and allow them to fully achieve the American Dream.
- LGBT Equality – This year the LGBT community made progress in their work to achieve equality. With 13 states now allowing gays and lesbians to marry and the Supreme Court overturning DOMA and Prop 8, the crucial victories set up a forward march. However, the LGBT community still faces employment discrimination and other challenges that block their ability to achieve full rights.
- Environmental Justice – Many low income people and minorities face environmental challenges that threaten their health and their lifestyle. In Los Angeles, African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave. 68% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant and this creates more incidences of asthma. Latino children are twice as likely to die from an asthma attack as non- Latino children. There are many more issues related to the environment that impact outcomes for these communities.
- Youth – Many of the aforementioned issues affect youth, but in addition to those challenges, youth often deal with college loans. In recent years the college loan interest rate has been at risk for doubling multiple times.