By Joseph Hansen, President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. This post is part of an ACSblog symposium on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The UFCW is proud to stand with our brothers and sisters from across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his inspirational “I Have a Dream” speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The march, organized largely by civil rights and labor leaders to promote freedom, economic equality and jobs, was one of the most important events in U.S. history and paved the way for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
In spite of the advances we have made over the last 50 years -- including the election of our first African American president -- thefight for social and economic justice continues. The Great Recession has widened the gap between the rich and poor, and the very concept of the American Dream -- namely that hard work pays off and the next generation will do better than the current one -- is in jeopardy.
The African American and Latino communities, in particular, have been hit the hardest by the recent economic downturn, and the unemployment rate among African Americans continues to register in the double digits. Comprehensive immigration reform has not yet been realized, and our current system penalizes too many people whose only crime is trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. Minority communities have also been the targets of voter suppression, and the recent Supreme Court decision to strike down key parts of the Voting Rights Act will undermine their access to the ballot.