Several hundred people held a march and rally in Los Angeles on Saturday to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King with a new dream for good jobs, quality education and safer neighborhoods.
The march and rally were held less than three months after the country's first African American President Barack Obama took office. To many, Obama realized part of King's legacy, but even under an African American president, the African American community and other ethnic communities have much to dream of.
People held signs such as "Employee Free Choice", "No Justice, No Peace" and "It's time for an economy that works for everyone" and rallied at the Foshay Learning Center before marching two miles along Exposition Boulevard to Dorsey High School, where they rallied again to deliver speeches.
Organizers called on national and local leaders to support policies that rebuild the communities so people can live a better life.
They also asked California Senator Diane Feinstein to support the Employee Free Choice Act, a federal legislation that would allow workers to earn better wages, health care and retirement benefits by protecting their right to freely form a union. Marchers also called for an end for cuts to school budgets and for safety measures to be instituted for the planned Expo light rail line in Los Angeles.
The banner held by marchers tells the new expectations African Americans have under President Obama: "Remembering King, Realizing the Dream."
Labor unions joined the march and rally, which echoed what Dr. King said: "The coalition that can have the greatest impact in the struggle for human dignity here in America is that of the blacks and forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined."
Service Employee International Union (SEIU-SOULA) President Faith Culbreath said at the rally: "We want to make sure that jobs become good jobs that the community can benefit from."
T-shirts worn by many participants bear slogans such as "One Union, One Voice, One Dream" to show solidarity between labor unions and the African American community.
Robert Branch, an African American local union leader said the election of Obama as the U.S. president is a remarkable achievement, but that is only the first step in this march towards equality in wages, health care and pensions.
He said the march and rally will send a message to the U.S. Congress that the struggle for equality in employment, pay and other benefits will go on until their goals have been achieved.
He added that people deserve a decent life, but right now prices are soaring but the wages are low, many people have lost their jobs. This should be changed.
Eric Brown, an African American man in his 30s, said the election of Obama as the U.S. president just reemphasizes the progresses which have been made, but there is always more work to do. Actually it is a call for people to remember not to think that things can be done without further struggle. From Dr. King to Obama, 41 years have past, but it is always important to remind people, especially the young ones, that people have the obligation to do things and not rest on what people have done in the past.
Some participants said they are unhappy with the government to spend billions of dollars to bail out the banks, but the money spent on the banks and the auto industry helped very little to bring the economy back. With unemployment rate as high as close to 11 percent in California, people worried more over their jobs than anything else.
On Friday, several hundred people demonstrated at Bank Plaza in downtown Los Angeles to tell the banks and the government to stop the evictions and foreclosures, bail out the people, not the banks.
Organizers said Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AIG, Merrill Lynch and others have gotten trillions of dollars thrown at them to bolster the system of business as usual, which keeps the richest afloat while workers and the poor drown in unemployment, homelessness and desperation.
Demonstrators erected a "tent City" to show why "Hoovervilles" are dramatically on the rise in California and why they need to bring the tent cities to the banks.
They asked for jobs, schools, an end to foreclosures, housing for all and medical care for all. Similar demonstrations were also held in New York and other cities in the U.S.
(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2009)