AFT Members Rally for Jobs and Justice at King Memorial
One message was clear to the thousands who gathered in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 15, for the March for Jobs and Justice to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.: His dream is alive and well and still needs to be fulfilled.
"We are in the midst of a major economic crisis. Millions of Americans are jobless, our schools and infrastructure are under-resourced, our kids are being denied real educational opportunities and their futures are at risk. It's no wonder that people are frustrated," said AFT president Randi Weingarten, one of many featured speakers at the event. "We are giving voice to the thousands of Americans who are saying 'enough is enough.'"
Thousands of AFT members traveled from Baltimore, New York City, Norfolk, Va., Philadelphia, and other cities to join their allies from labor and other organizations for a rally on the lawn of the Washington Monument and a subsequent march to the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial nearby. They were joined by community leaders, parents, students, and a diverse contingent of labor and human rights organizations, including the National Action Network, the National Council of La Raza, the Urban League and the AFL-CIO. The official dedication of the monument took place on Oct. 16.
During the rally, Weingarten called on the audience to be "foot soldiers in the fight to reclaim the American dream." One successful step forward in the fight would be to pass President Obama's jobs bill. As the speakers addressed the crowd, many of the rally-goers punctuated the speeches with chants of "pass that bill." The AFT is one of the groups leading a national call to action to fight for passage of the measure. The bill's defeat in the Senate last week is a temporary setback, but the fight to pass legislation to create jobs continues.
"Is it radical to want to put people back to work? Is it radical to want a fair shake or to want teachers to remain in the classroom and not on the unemployment lines?" Weingarten asked the crowd, which answered with a hearty "no!" "Then we must fight for this jobs bill," she urged. [Adrienne Coles]