Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington when over 250,000 people gathered to protest discrimination and economic inequality. The monumental event and the organizing that followed helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act – legislation that helped reshape our country and the economy.
But in the words of Dr. King on that historic day, “1963 is not the end, but a beginning.”
Enormous strides have been made. We saw the end of Jim Crow. We’ve seen African Americans, Latinos, women and others gain access to jobs and education they were previously denied. In 1963, 42 percent of African Americans lived below the poverty line; in 2011 that percentage dropped to 27 percent.
But we aren’t done yet. There is a growing gap of inequality in this country. In 2011 African-American women earned only 69 cents for every dollar earned by men. Women and people of color are still underrepresented in the sciences and political leadership. There is currently no federal law preventing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And this year the Supreme Court struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.
In 2013 we must recommit ourselves to a renewed effort to expand opportunity for everyone. We must push Congress to act on the Voting Rights Act. We must fight to increase economic security, protection against discrimination, comprehensive immigration reform, a robust safety net and voting rights. We must continue the fight for the basic standards that all of us need to contribute to overall stability for families, communities and a growing economy.
Call your Senators and Congressional Representative and tell them that, on this 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we expect them to take action on the Voting Rights Act to protect the voting rights of all Americans. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senator and Congressional Representative today!