Aug 29, 2013
Nearly 2,000 CWA activists joined the tens of thousands of people marching on the National Mall this past weekend to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and to reinforce the fight to ensure our democracy works for every American.
CWAers traveled from Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia and Georgia, joining hands with civil rights activists, students, union members, community organizers, environmental activists, people of faith and many more, all part of a movement to bring the dream of economic and social justice closer to reality for all. CWA red mixed with SEIU purple, AFSME green, UAW blue and other unions gathered around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool.
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"If I had to pick one word to describe my feelings during the March on Washington it would have to be 'overwhelming,'" said CWA District 4 Vice President Linda Hinton. "Such diversity! To be surrounded by brothers and sisters, and especially our elders who were there 50 years ago and have returned today, reinforces my desire to continue the struggle. It was about jobs then, and it is still about jobs. There is so much more work to do, and we cannot falter."
Hinton said that at one point during the march, she grew tired from walking. But then she witnessed the elderly woman with a walker struggling with each step.
"She continued. She had been walking for 50 years and never gave up, and nor will I," Hinton said.
CWA activists wore t-shirts reading, "I am a drum major for justice..." echoing a famous, powerful line from one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermons.
In 1963, marchers were fighting for jobs, economic justice and racial equality. While the country has made progress, much of the movement's work remains unfinished. Many of the marchers and speakers reflected on their own hopes and dreams, as they remembered MLK's historic "I have a dream" speech. They talked about the murder of Trayvon Martin, fighting to restore the Voting Rights Act, boosting the minimum wage and shrinking the gap between the nation's rich and poor.
"This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration," Martin Luther King III told the crowd. "Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more."
Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, said, "I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for the right to vote. I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You've got to stand up. Speak up, speak out and get in the way."
On Wednesday, activists gathered again on the Mall to hear speeches by President Barack Obama and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who all stood on the very spot where MLK rallied the nation.
"It was an amazing event to see so many people come together – people committed to fairness for all and to finally push to bring an end to racism in this country," said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins. "I was honored to be there with so many labor folks, civil rights, community and faith based groups. As I marched, listen to the speakers and watched people of all ages, races and gender, I was filled with emotion."
CWAers were a part of the March on Washington in 1963 and again 50 years later, as workers, civil rights activists, greens students, people of faith and many more came together to support the dream of democracy and justice for all.
No one can do it alone. Building a movement of allies is how we will achieve economic and social justice.
CWA activists from Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, the mid-Atlantic and other states bus to DC for the March. Many took overnight buses to get here in time.
Bus greeters hand out t-shirts and lunches as CWAers head out for the rally and march.
On the way to the Lincoln Memorial.
CWA D4 Vice President Linda Hinton, center, Sonny Morgan, IUE-CWA, left, and Sylvia Ramos, assistant to D6 Vice President Claude Cummings, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
The march ended at the MLK memorial.
In San Jose, Calif., some 500 people, including members of CWA Local 9423, marked the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington at a march sponsored by the NAACP, unions, community groups and others.