As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is clear that the fight for justice and equality is far from over. The spirit of the civil rights movement lives on, as we continue to advocate for voting rights, women's autonomy, and an end to systemic racism. Today, we gather virtually to amplify the voices of women, who were unfortunately not given the opportunity to speak at the 1963 event. "She Speaks" is a powerful event taking place at the Lincoln Memorial and online, where leaders from across the nation emphasize the unresolved promises made during the original March on Washington. These promises include safeguarding voting and reproductive rights, ensuring fair wages, and eradicating poverty.
Upholding Voting and Reproductive Rights
In recent years, voting and reproductive rights have come under attack in many states. Supreme Court decisions have jeopardized these fundamental rights, putting the progress achieved in peril. The overturning of Roe v. Wade and other restrictive measures have left women questioning their bodily autonomy. We still have a long way to go in securing and expanding the protections for everyone's right to vote.
Ashley Marshall, co-founder and leader of Forward Justice, emphasizes that the struggles against racism and inequality, spoken about by Martin Luther King Jr. and others sixty years ago, persist today. Our communities remain over-policed and underfunded, hindering progress towards true equality. It is essential that we acknowledge the historic harms caused by racism and work towards healing our society from these deep-rooted wounds.
The Urgency of Now
As we come together for "She Speaks," we stand united in our pursuit of justice and equality. The legacy of the March on Washington lives on as we fight for voting rights, reproductive autonomy, fair wages, and the end of poverty. Let us continue to march forward and make progress towards a more equitable and inclusive society.
Women's Voices in the Struggle for Justice
The fight for living wages and an end to poverty has been an ongoing battle. This is evident in the increasing number of workers across the nation who are either striking or preparing to strike. Sadly, racial and gender wage gaps persist, highlighting the need for continued efforts towards equality.
According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the Black poverty rate, which stood at 51% in 1963, has decreased to 20% as of 2021. Despite this improvement, it remains two and a half times higher than the 8% poverty rate among white Americans in the same year.
Mary Kay Henry, the first female president of the Service Employees International Union, emphasizes the importance of unions. She emphasizes the need to unite the fights for racial and economic justice, demanding better jobs and freedom.
Unions: A Key Solution
A groundbreaking report by the Treasury Department underscores the pivotal role of unions in addressing stagnant wages and economic inequality. It highlights how unions can bring about meaningful change, benefiting workers and narrowing the wealth gap.
William Barber, a theologian and co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, was the sole male voice among the speakers at a recent march. He drew attention to the absence of women's voices in the historical march held 60 years ago. Barber pointed out that civil rights icon Rosa Parks only spoke 27 words during that event.
Barber also made mention of a tragic incident that occurred over the weekend at a Dollar General store in Florida. Three Black individuals lost their lives in a shooting carried out by a white man who openly expressed hatred towards Black people in his writings.
In addition, several speakers at the virtual event denounced the actions of politicians and leaders. They called out their role in fueling racism and discrimination, reinforcing the need for change at higher levels.
Promoting African-American Studies
In February 2023, we discussed the possibility of California schools implementing mandatory African-American studies. This move aims to counteract legislation like Florida's "Stop WOKE" law. By directly addressing the erasure of Black history, such education reforms can foster inclusivity and promote a more equitable society.
The struggle for justice and equality continues, and it is essential to recognize and amplify the voices of all those involved. Together, we can create a future where wages are fair, poverty is eradicated, and discrimination is eradicated.