Marchers gathered in Central District not only to commemorate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington, but as a rally to bring affirmative action back to the state.
“Now here we are 55 years later still fighting for jobs and justice for our community,” said Jacquie Jones-Walsh vice president of Regional Coalition of Black Trade Unions.
Jones-Walsh and others called for support for Initiative 1000, which aims to restore affirmative action to state education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
I-1000, which would be considered by the Legislature, is meant to counteract voter-approved Initiative 200, which banned “preferential treatment” in the state when voters passed it in 1998.
I-1000 would define affirmative action as providing equal opportunities for women, veterans, minorities and people with disabilities, and define “preferential treatment” as the hiring of someone less qualified solely based on race or gender.
Speakers connected the local affirmative action push with the Civil Rights struggle. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington featured his famous “I have a dream” speech.
Speakers also talked about Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s role in the local Civil Rights movement and issues such as an effort to put NFL pensions in black-owned banks.
“We have the opportunity to build our future by supporting Initiative 1000,” Jones-Walsh said.
The Initiative 1000 campaign aims to collect 300,000 signatures across the state by January.