“Fifty years ago, men and women of every race, creed and religion gathered on our National Mall to declare that the scourge of discrimination could not overpower a nation dedicated to equality and freedom. They asked our country to keep the promises made in the Constitution. The bravery of those who joined the march made America more equal and democratic, but their vision remains unfulfilled.
“The full name of the march still resonates: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Income inequality threatens our democracy as Jim Crow segregation did in 1963. Too many kids in too many cities today face too many barriers to opportunity. Families are working harder than ever and are still struggling to put food on the table. A full day’s work doesn’t mean a full day’s pay. Jobs were the issue then and jobs are the issue now.
“We’ve had many triumphs and many setbacks since that August day in 1963. Promises were fulfilled and others were broken. We’ve made steps toward a more perfect union and we’ve taken steps backward. The minimum wage in 1963 was the equivalent of $9.54 in 2013 inflation-adjusted dollars. But today’s minimum wage is only $7.25. Workers are falling behind.
“At the same time, an uprising of workers demanding fair wages and benefits around the country is catching the nation’s attention and support. They summon optimism and spread it, as did those who stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial that day. “The problems we face today may seem different, but we are fighting for the same goal: equality for all. The bravery shown by those who came before us fuels our drive towards progress and for that we thank each and every one of them.”
Congressman Keith Ellison will join local leaders and groups, including the St. Paul NAACP, in a march to the Minnesota State Capitol to commemorate and celebrate the historic March On Washington which occurred 50 years ago on August 28, 1963.
As citizens across the country converge on our nation’s capital, here in Minnesota, social and economic justice groups will come together to commemorate the March and to continue the fight for jobs, freedom and justice. Today, disparities in education, employment, and wages; a fair pathway to citizenship for all immigrants; and a justice system that protects all its citizens are at the forefront of realizing Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a just society. The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, was $9.45 in 1963. Today, it’s $7.25 nationally and $6.15 in Minnesota.
Congressman Ellison will lead the march starting at Boyd Park in St. Paul at 11:00. The march will follow John Ireland Boulevard, ending at the Minnesota State Capitol South Mall near the War Memorials where Congressman Ellison will kick off a program around noon.
The commemoration is being organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) African-American caucus, AFRAM Minnesota Chapter.
Listen to President Obama address the nation at “The Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action Ceremony,” by clicking this link, http://officialmlkdream50.com/