The Movement of Rank and File Educators encourages all UFT members, education activists, and all those who are concerned about the future of democracy and justice in this country, to attend the March on Washington, DC on August 24th, 2013. UFT members and their guests can travel for free on UFT-sponsored buses (see link below).
Unfortunately, this march is not just a matter of nostalgia. Today, the gains of the Civil Rights Movement are very much under attack, as educators know all too well. School desegregation was one of the central targets of the movement, but is not championed by the courts or by the federal government. Rather, the current policy thrusts — including privatization and the proliferation of charter schools, have demonstrably worsened segregation in urban school districts.
Young people played a heroic role in the Civil Rights Movement — taking the initiative to lead sit ins, freedom rides, marches and demonstrations. Today, young African Americans are vilified, criminalized, over-policed, and surveilled. The acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, will likely motivate thousands more to join the August 24th march to raise their voices against this trend.
As Dr. King warned, “A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Along with the attacks on young people, come attacks on adults. Public schools face privatization and educators are facing union busting. Ironically, this agenda is often carried out in the name of the historic African American struggle for Civil Rights. But we cannot forget that the 1963 March on Washington was a march for Jobs and Freedom — it was a marriage of the struggles for racial and economic justice, and unions were central to the movement and to that march.
Then, as now, the struggle to defend unions, to defend the public sector in general, and public education in particular, will be bound up with the struggle for racial justice and to defend the civil rights of young people. Education activists from across the nation will gather in Washington, DC to raise our voices against privatization, against the criminalization of youth, for our union rights and for public education. We hope to see many of MORE’s members and supporters there. Our specific meet-up location in Washington, DC will be published here at the MORE blog a few days before the March.
UFT members and their guests can register for free rides on UFT-sponsored buses here