Why We March

Rev. Jesse Jackson and United Auto Workers President Bob King issued the following statement at a July 12th press conference in Detroit.

DETROIT (July 12, 2010) No group has suffered more from America’s economic meltdown than working men and women. The auto industry was decimated and workers paid the price. Urban America is in crisis and teachers, transportation workers, and all who do the hands-on work that make our cities run are the first to feel the effects of budget cuts. Unemployment continues at around 9.8%. Detroit is ground zero of this national crisis with an unemployment rate that is far higher. From December 2007 to June 2009, auto assembly and parts production accounted for 325,000 lost jobs. The auto industry has gone from a high of 1.5 million workers to 400,000 today.

In Appalachia and the Gulf, years of unenforced regulation, driven by corporate greed and government complicity, have led to needless deaths and destruction in the coal and oil fields. Our national infrastructure is crumbling--industry, education, transportation, environment--while millions of talented workers stand by, ready to stem the tide.

Poverty is on the rise. Home and church foreclosures continue to mount and student loan defaults are increasing. Our cities are under siege. Public transportation services are cut, workers laid off, but fares go up. Teachers are laid off and programs are cut as education budgets are slashed. Public housing faces cuts and we experience reverse redlining in our neighborhoods. We bailed out the predators--banks got money at 0%--while we made loans to the auto industry.

We need a plan for recovery. We need economic reconstruction. We need urban policy geared toward reindustrialization. We need fair trade policies that will even the playing field for American companies and workers and, as more and more people face greater economic need, it’s time to revive the War on Poverty.

On August 28th in Detroit, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and UAW, along with our friends and allies, will march to mark the beginning of a new campaign that will call on our leaders to Rebuild America by enacting policy that will unleash the skills and talent of the American workforce. We will march for Jobs, Justice and Peace on the anniversary of that day in 1963 when Walter Reuther, president of UAW, Martin Luther King, Jr., president of SCLC, and other civil rights leaders joined with hundreds of thousands of Americans for the March on Washington.

Leading up to that day, marches were held around the country, building momentum for what was to be the largest civil rights rally in history. In Detroit, prior to the March on Washington, 125,000 marchers participated in the Freedom Walk led by Dr. King. At the march, King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech for the first time before sharing it with the world in Washington. This year, a massive march has been called for October 2 in Washington.

We will begin to build momentum again right here in Detroit on August 28th.

It’s time to enact real change for working families and all America. It’s time to reverse the policies that have resulted in jobs and investment flowing out of the country, creating economic hardship for millions of Americans. It’s time to Rebuild America with Jobs, Justice and Peace.

We are calling on our national leaders to Rebuild America by focusing on:

Jobs--economic reconstruction driven by targeted stimulus, reindustrialization and trade policy that will create jobs, support manufacturing in America, and put workers first.

Justice--enforcement of the law regarding workers rights, civil rights, industrial regulation, and creation of strong urban policy, and fair and just education, economic, and health policy.

Peace--ending the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, saving lives and redirecting the war budget to rebuilding America.

We invite all who share our commitment to march with us in Detroit on August 28th. Nothing is more important than strengthening our coalition of conscience and restoring the promise of democracy and economic justice for working families.