CATEGORY

Jobs, Justice and the American Dream

by Zachary Langway | August 26, 2011 11:16 am

The following remarks were delivered by Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President of the AFL-CIO and a Center for Community Change board member, at today’s symposium, “Jobs, Justice and the American Dream.”

This has been an historic week in Washington, D.C. in many ways.  As we all know, the unveiling of the Martin Luther Memorial has been postponed as the Eastern Sea Board is in the path of Hurricane Irene.  Natural disasters we cannot control — but it is the man-made disasters, ones we will talk about today, that we have the power to change the direction of if we so choose.

We are reminded on this day of that march on Washington 48 years ago when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. moved our people and our nation to embrace his dream of America — a dream that he and the march’s originator, the legendary African American Labor Leader, A. Philip Randolph, shared.

When Martin Luther King III and the AFL-CIO begin talking about co-hosting a Jobs and Justice Symposium — during this historic weekend — we knew that we wanted to highlight the needs of America’s struggling families -– the families that Dr. King devoted his life to fighting for.

We wanted to hear from those who are unemployed, but want to work — hear from academics who study the effects of economic and social injustice on our communities ‑‑hear from students who dare to dream — hear from workers who want justice and a voice at work — and hear from civil rights legends who have devoted their lives in search of the American Dream.

For months now, the lives of millions of Americans have been shaken up by economic uncertainty.  Just as our Nation’s Capitol literally shook this week, we hope that discussions like the one we will have today will shake our elected officials to move with boldness and a fierce urgency of NOW.    We call on our leaders to respond to the desperate cries of the people for jobs and justice.

Today, many wonder — where will we go from here?  Will the unveiling of the King Memorial rekindle in all who truly love justice and freedom a renewed sense of movement unity — Blacks and Whites, Immigrants, Young and Old, Workers and the Unemployed, Gay and Straight?

It is up to us whether we choose “Chaos or Community.”

Related Articles

Hate crimes are on the rise – and black women are a target

  [caption id="attachment_10082" align="alignleft" width="300"] Nia Wilson/Daryle Allums, godfather of Nia Wilson[/caption] A recent study from the Center for the…

Called to Deeply Listen to Those Impacted by Police Violence

Hearing families who have been impacted by police violence speak is always a transformative and powerful experience for me. While…

It's a living: Surviving as a creative artist in an expensive city

Last month former Cosby Show actor Geoffrey Owens was spotted working the register at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey.…

When scary times lead comics to progressive politics 

Comedy has become essential to survive the bizarre tenure of Trump’s presidency. Comics have riffed on everything from his tendency…

Introducing Dorian Warren as Next CCC President

"Who am I? I am just a kid from the south side of Chicago. A weird, long-suffering Cubs fan, who grew up walking picket lines with my mother, who was a public s...

Private prisons make more money the more people they keep incarcerated. In Florida, activists are working to stop the practice.

As Americans we believe deeply in freedom and fairness. We believe that we should be free to pursue the American…