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August 27, 2013

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UUPers march for justice, equality


uupdate 8-27-13

The Aug. 24 March on Washington drew dozens of UUP members among the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children gathered in the nation’s capital. They heard many of the same stirring messages from the 1963 March for Jobs and Justice that was immortalized by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

'An inspiring sight'

Kowal said unions were “a core of that first march” and were again 50 years later, united in the call for justice.

“It’s an inspiring sight, and a great feeling,” he added. “It’s inspiring in a way that makes me want to go out and continue to do the work that our union is all about: to obtain justice in the form of educational opportunity and health care for everybody.”

Equal education for all

The leaders of UUP’s two national affiliates AFT President Randi Weingarten and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel called for equal education for all when they addressed the crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Weingarten shared the stage with 9-year-old Asean Johnson, a Chicago public school student and the youngest speaker at this year’s march.

“I am marching for education, justice and freedom,” said Johnson, as Weingarten knelt beside him holding the microphone. “All over the country, public education is under attack. … Every child deserves a great education; every school deserves equal funding and resources.”

“I encourage all of you to keep Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream alive,” he added. “Help us fight for freedom, racial equality, jobs, public education—because I have a dream we shall overcome.”

Weingarten said Dr. King’s dream has yet to be realized, so the march “must not be a commemoration, but a continuation of the right to fight to achieve racial and economic equality at the voting booth, in our schools, in our workplaces, and in our communities.”

Education is one solution in the “struggle for good jobs and decent wages, which is why we must reclaim the promise of a public education,” Weingarten said.

“In our nation today, a student from a high-income family is seven times more likely to enroll in an elite college than a student from a low-income family,” noted Van Roekel. “For those of us who share Dr. King’s dream, this is unacceptable.”

Watch for the September/October 2013 issue of The Voice for more coverage of the march.


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