WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the spirit of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech, tens of thousands of people are expected to swarm the National Mall on March 21 to demand inclusive economic polices and citizenship for all of America’s families.
Organizers of the “March for America” said that abysmal economic conditions within Black and Latino communities—where jobless rates remain in the double digits according to latest Labor Department statistics—real and perceived tensions between the communities, especially on the issues of immigration and jobs, are undermining progress.
“Blacks and Latinos as well as other racial and ethnic minorities are facing unprecedented unemployment rates,” NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous said in a statement. “The status quo solutions of Washington aren’t addressing the problem in a way that both meet the needs of our constituencies and also solves the nation’s economic crisis in a real way. We need a new paradigm that not only restores our unemployment rates to pre-economic crisis [levels], but addresses the systemic long-standing unemployment disparities our country has faced for generations.”
The march, Jealous and others said, is a call for solidarity. A broad coalition of local and national civil rights and economic justice organizations, including the NAACP and La Raza are slated to participate in the march, which begins at 1 p.m. with an interfaith service on the National Mall, followed by the official program at 2 p.m.
“Times are tough, people are hurting and the country needs everyone’s contribution,” said the Rev. Derrick Harkins of the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. “We must come together as a community and as a nation. We need government intervention on a large scale and every hand to help lift America’s economy back to growth, stability and innovation.”