On Oct. 15, the civil rights leader will head a rally for employment and justice in Washington, D.C.
Forty-eight years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech, some critics are skeptical whether a march is an appropriate way to solve legislative problems. When Black unemployment is over 16 percent, however, others have a pointed response for those critics.
“I say to them that had we not marched in the sixties, they wouldn’t be where they are,” Reverend Al Sharpton tells BET.com. “If marching brought attention, and that attention led to legislation, then marching does the same now. Marching is not designed to solve problems. Marching is designed to expose problems.”
On Oct.15, one day prior to the rescheduled unveiling of the King memorial, Sharpton, along with his organization, the National Action Network, will host a march for jobs and justice, two of the largest problems facing minorities today. In what he calls the first major gathering of African-Americans since the deficit debate, clergy and civil rights leaders from across the country will gather to lead participants and alert Washington that there is “unfinished business,” and that those who are seeking to undo what Dr. King accomplished for working people and labor industries in the US need to stop doing so.
“The weekend that we unveil the monument should also be the weekend that we unveil a step-up and enhancement of going back out there to dramatize our needs, so that the pressure is put on Washington to understand that the Tea Party and the right wing are not the only ones that represent America. We have numbers. We have people,” he says.
Some expected to participate in the march include co-chair Rev. Dr. Franklyn Richardson, senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church & chairman of National Action Network, and co-host Tom Joyner from the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Lee A. Saunders, secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Randi Weingarten, president of American Federation of Teachers and Dr. Martin Luther King III are also expected to attend.
“I was talking to a man that was riding next to me on a train,” recalls Sharpton. “He said, ‘I don’t know why marching is important.’ I told him, ‘How did we get the right to public accommodations? We got it because Dr. King and others boycotted in Montgomery and marched. So, you’re sitting up here with me in first class in a train, why don’t you go get in the back of a bus and ride to where you’re going?’
“How can you enjoy the fruits of marching and question marching?” asks Sharpton. “Just say you don’t want to march. You’re too lazy or you’re too ungrateful. Don’t act like there’s something wrong with us, just understand that’s how we got here.”
For more information on the mass march for jobs and justice, visit here.
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)