NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous talks to Bernie McCain today about the One Nation Working Together Rallies and march on October 2, 2010 in Washington, D.C.
Hundreds of thousands of people from all backgrounds, faiths, heritage, identities and hues from across America have put aside their differences and come together as a united voice for jobs, justice and education. Committed to Putting America Back to Work and Pulling America Back Together, One Nation Working Together supporters will march on Washington Saturday, October 2 at noon at the Lincoln Memorial to refocus national priorities on investments in America’s people.
“One Nation Working Together is a movement of everyday people,” says Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, “who are marching on 10-2-10 along with human and civil rights organizations, unions and trade associations, youth and student groups, faith, educational, environmental, peace, gender and identity rights groups, and hundreds of other groups. We are making a direct demand – to reclaim our fundamental right to the American Dream. We are holding our representatives in Washington accountable for re-focusing national priorities on what is important – the people, “he explains.
To highlight the urgency of the One Nation Working Together movement, consider the figures released by the US Census Bureau yesterday showing that one in seven Americans – that’s 45.6 million people – lives in poverty in the United States. This is the third consecutive year of increases. African Americans saw an increase from 24.7% to 25.85%, and Hispanics living in poverty jumped from 23.2% to 25.3%.
As Janet Murguia, president of National Council of La Raza, makes clear: One Nation Working Together is an unprecedented coalition with an urgent mission. “We have been able to bring together groups and individuals who have never worked together before because we all share the common need for more and secure jobs now, equal justice for every person in this country, and access to high quality public education for all children.”
Representing the true majority in America, the One Nation Working Together movement aims to recommit every person in the United States to the principles that this nation was founded upon: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This means that every person who wants to work should have a secure job with a living wage, equal protection under the law, and access to a quality public education for all children, from pre-school through college or technical school.
“As a nation, we need to move beyond divisive politics and work together to address issues such as the deepening jobs crisis, a broken immigration system, struggling public education systems and environmental disasters.” says American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, “A robust economy, good jobs and strong public schools go hand in hand. To accomplish these goals, we all must work together—elected officials, community leaders, educators, parents, the business community our young people—to strengthen public education and other institutions.
“America’s competitive edge in the world economy and the ability of working people to compete and qualify for good jobs are inextricably linked with educational opportunity,” Weingarten continues, “Our strength as a people and a nation will depend on how well we invest in our children.”
Max Love, a sophomore at University of Wisconsin- Madison from Lodi, Wisconsin, tells his story of supporting the goals of One Nation Working Together: “Every American counts. As a country, we no longer invest in the future of our people as we should. Students struggle to stay in school because they cannot afford rising tuition, and when they do graduate they are jobless with a ton of debt. Students in Wisconsin and elsewhere have had enough. We are participating because it is my dream and my tomorrow that is at stake.” Love represents the United States Students Association.
In recent weeks, local coalitions from Boston to the Bay Area have been hosting events and mobilizing residents to march on Washington and to pledge support for One Nation Working Together. Examples of local efforts include a blog mobile that will depart California around September 24 driving across the country to the march on Washington, staffed by citizen bloggers who will capture stories of real people working together for more jobs, justice and quality public education; jobs fairs in Texas that attracted thousands of people, affordable housing rallies, a Wall Street rally with 200 people, parades, and dozens of news conferences and special events held at venues such as community colleges, organizing meetings, town hall meetings, tailgate and house parties, prayer breakfasts, voter registration drives and news conferences, to name a few.
One Nation Working Together supporters demand from political, business and civic leaders A Plan for A New Economy based on secure jobs, justice and quality public education. This plan includes at least one million new jobs now including green jobs, extended unemployment support, paid sick days and family leave for all workers, fixing the broken immigration system, extending civil and human rights protections to all, ending racial profiling, curbing re-segregation attempts, completing the promise of health care reform with the public option, and ensuring that all people have access to affordable, high quality public education from pre-school through college.
Highlights of the One Nation Working Together Plan for a New Economy
We the Americans of One Nation Working Together commit to help turn our country around and refocus on:
Good jobs: One million new jobs now. Jobs where each voice and lifestyle are respected. Every working American is able to share fairly in the wealth he or she helps create, is able to live in a safe community and to care for her or his family.
A fair chance for everyone to live the American Dream. Every American, regardless of race, class, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, religious background, beliefs or heritage can have the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential and live in dignity.
Excellent quality education from pre-kindergarten through college that is accessible and affordable to most families.
An America that works for us all: So that no matter what happens, the basics of life– food, shelter, medical care and education — are never denied.
“With the 10-2-10 march, we are serving notice to Congress,” says Weingarten. “We will march on October 2 and we will march again on November 2 into the voting booths.” “We need and expect decisive leadership to overcome this country’s urgent challenges. We in One Nation Working Together are ready to do our part.”
What One Nation Working Together Partners are Saying:
“We are facing unprecedented economic and social challenges in this country,” says George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (Service Employees International Union). “Unemployment and recession, struggling public school systems, and recent attempts to take away basic civil and human rights compel us to come together and act,” he adds, “by demanding one million new jobs now.”
“It is time we put aside our differences and focus on moving forward together, refocusing our country’s priorities on what is truly important – renewed and stepped up investments in our people.”
According to Wade Henderson, president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: “Our movement strives to make real the promise of America for everyone. On October 2nd, our voice for progress and hope will be raised in a clarion call.
“The ideal that everyone should have equal opportunity to live a rich and prosperous life is an essential element of our national identity, an ideal that has served our country well for generations. However, today we face serious challenges that can only be addressed with decisive leadership and a redoubled commitment on the part of all of us to act in the public interest for the good of all.
“We have an opportunity to change the course of federal policymaking to build an economy based on shared prosperity for all people in America, including communities of color, low-skilled and less-educated workers, aging workers, and people with disabilities, all of whom have been affected disproportionately by the current jobs crisis.”
Green For All CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins: “The One Nation March is a critical moment in American history. Now is the time that the progressive power in this country prove that we are the movement of faith. We are the movement fighting to protect the most vulnerable Americans from those who want to exploit us and lock us out of the American dream.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “With tens of millions of people stuck in a jobless quagmire and a slow economy, the time for action is now,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This great country can do better. As one nation, working together, we can build an economy that truly works for all. And we will.”
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry:
“One Nation is about putting America back to work and pulling America back together,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. “It’s time to unite our collective strength to lead our country back to economic prosperity and send a clear message that we will not be divided. We will not back down until all workers have the freedom to unite to form unions and rebuild the middle class. And we will not back down until we build a fair, humane and just immigration system that protects hard working immigrants from exploitation and meets the economic needs of our future.”