Fifty years ago today, civil-rights advocates from around the nation gathered for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They had goals like desegregation, and boosting the then-$1.25-per-hour minimum wage to $2. So, how far have we come? That $1.25 wage they were complaining about amounts to $9.25 per hour in 2013 dollars — just slighty more than what President Obama announced he would seek in his State of the Union address this year to right-wing outrage.
To commemorate the march and the ongoing struggle, Fight for Philly, SEIU Health Care PA and Pennsylvania United for Immigration Reform are holding a rally at 6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. 1965 speech marker — the site where King spoke on his Freedom Now tour.
The 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom captured the nation's attention as more than a quarter million people stood together in the nation's capital and demanded the government invest in quality housing, improve education, create more jobs, increase the national minimum wage, protect everyone's right to vote, and end all forms of discrimination. The nation has made progress toward broader goals of the march, but we have a long way to go to achieve its vision for a more equal and just society. Today, far too many workers have low-wage jobs, income inequality is increasing, the fundamental right to vote is under attack in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and extremist lawmakers backed by corporate dollars continually try to undermine the social contract that has provided opportunity for so many to move into the middle class. Urban public schools, as we have seen in Philadelphia, remain drastically under-funded. And, as the events that unfolded around the killing of Trayvon Martin have made all too painfully clear, the nation often has an unequal system of justice. 11 million aspiring Americans are forced to live in the shadows, without a voice in our economy or democracy.
Meet at 40th and Lancaster at 6 p.m. to read from the "I Have a Dream" speech — or to show support for a minimum wage of $1.25 per hour in 1963 dollars.
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