When unemployment stands at 9.1 percent for America and 16 percent for African-Americans, it’s no wonder why people are frustrated.
In an effort to reflect their disapproval of the lack of jobs, hundreds of people marched from the Washington monument to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Saturday in a rally and march headed by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, in addition to several other civil rights organizations.
“No Justice, No Peace,” Sharpton chanted, as a fiery crowd responded when he took the stage on the sunny afternoon during a rally that preceded the march.
“We come today because this country has ignored the plight of unemployed and people who are chronically unemployed” he started, “If you won’t get the jobs bill done in the suite, then we will get the jobs bill done in the street.”
The march was originally scheduled to coincide with August's opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, but was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. The rescheduled opening ceremony memorial takes place Sunday.
“We cannot sit here with 14 million people unemployed while you get ready for an election. We cannot sit here when one percent of the country is controlling 30 to 40 percent of the wealth,” Sharpton told a passionate crowd.
Others, including National Urban League President Marc Morial, also expressed disapproval of the way Black joblessness has been handled and told the audience that they must hold Washington lawmakers accountable.
He then urged the group to ensure that they are aware of any changes to voting rules in their home states so they are not disenfranchised and find themselves unable to participate in next year's presidential election.
“We are here today to send the strongest possible message to the people not only here in Washington, D.C., but all across the nation, that the number-one issue facing the nation is jobs,” Morial said. “It’s time for leaders in this city, down on Capitol Hill, to stop playing games, stop playing political tricks, to stop insulting our intelligence and to vote for a jobs bill now.”
Martin Luther King III, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and Walter Andrews, president of the Communication Workers of America, were some of the prominent leaders who spoke at the rally and marched.
Though some may be skeptical of the effectiveness of marching, it is important to remember that had Blacks not marched in the sixties, Sharpton previously told BET.com, he believes they would not be where they are today.
“Marching is not designed to solve problems. Marching is designed to expose problems,” he said. With a record number of Americans who are unemployed, Sharpton says, silence won’t help.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)