On Friday, August 24th, five IBEW 1245 members and staff will join the national mobilization to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Fifty years ago, in 1963, a quarter of a million people marched to demand racial equality and social and economic justice n the aftermath of escalating attacks on the growing civil rights movement and labor movement. Just two weeks before the event, Mississippi civil and voting rights worker Medgar Evans was assassinated in his drive way. The march took place on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery. Martin Luther King delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech in which he declared “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution and the declaration of independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men (and women), yes black men as well as white men, are guaranteed the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The 1963 march is widely viewed as being a turning point in the Civil Rights movement which contributed to the signing of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act.
IBEW 1245’s delegation to Washington is part of 1245’s leadership development program. Tom Dalzell, IBEW 1245 Business Manager stated that “1245 is investing in the next generation of labor leaders and activists. We’re not only reading the history, we’re making it; we are pressing our agenda—at the bargaining table, in the legislatures and in the streets; and we are inviting our young members to help lead the way. By marching side by side the veterans of the labor and Civil Rights movement, our young members are fortified, just as their energy, creativity and dedication fortifies us.” “The March on Washington is a valuable opportunity to educate younger members to the labor struggle and the power of solidarity,” he added.
IBEW 1245 Tree Trimmer, Rosario Garcia shared, “I’m thrilled to be going to the march. It’s an injection of hope, a reminder of the difference we can make when we come together.”
IBEW 1245 member Walter Carmier, from Frontier Power Company, added that “The March on Washington was a watershed moment. But even though great progress has been made over the last five decades, recent events show there is a great deal of work to be done. This year’s Supreme Court decision nullifying central parts of the Voting Rights Act, the “Stand Your Ground” laws and racial profiling that contributed to the death of teenager Travon Martin are sharp reminders that the work is unfinished.”
Logan Jonas, a PGE 6th step apprentice, shared, “Even though I wasn’t alive when the march occurred, it shows the power of organizing and acting together for social justice. This country has been battling against injustice and inequality since its inception. The March on Washington was an act that reminded us that these inequities and injustices still existed for many Americans. The dream of a free world was still a dream—to allow that fight for equality to die when it is still but a dream for millions would be the greatest injustice any of us could do.”
Jonas, Carmier and Garcia will be joined by IBEW 1245 Staff organizers Jennifer Gray and Eileen Purcell.
Gray noted that “the 50th Anniversary March on Washington is a reminder of the tremendous power we have as people to make the change we want to see in this world. I am completely honored to be able to stand where such amazing historical leaders stood courageously to demand civil and economic rights for everyone.”
Purcell added, “I remember watching the black and white TV footage of the march as a child with my family. We were riveted. Doctor King’s vision was powerful. The victories were real. But the work is incomplete. Racial inequality remains a fact. Income inequality in the United States is at an all time high. Unions—the great equalizer and guarantor of decent wages, benefits and retirement security—are under attack. The promissory note has yet to be fulfilled. Our task as a labor movement is to keep the dream, the vision alive; to organize and to teach our children to organize. And as the great poet, Maya Angelou, said to do so “with passion, compassion, and a bit of humor!”
The national anniversary march is sponsored by a broad coalition of labor, civil rights, human rights and religious and civic organizations. The IBEW 1245 delegation is coordinating with our international’s Carolyn Williams, IBEW’s director of Civic and Community Engagement.