Activists rally in D.C. to continue MLK’s dream 60 years after March on Washington

USW members from across the union traveled to the nation’s capital on Sat., Aug. 26, to continue Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream at the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The rally took place at the Lincoln Memorial, which also served as the backdrop to King's impassioned call for equality in 1963.

USW Vice President at Large Roxanne Brown, who joined the group at the D.C. event, said the march provided a needed opportunity for the labor movement to redouble its work on behalf of civil and human rights.

“We can’t stand by and watch as rights are stripped away from Black and Brown folks, from women, from LGBTQ+ people, from immigrants and disabled people,” said Brown. “The house of labor includes everyone, and it’s our duty to fight to improve the lives of all working people. This is our lane, this is our family.”

USW Vice President of Human Affairs Kevin Mapp said that he was inspired by the crowd and believes there is no better time to push forward with King’s work.

“Young people especially are fired up,” Mapp said. “They’re paying attention and they’re organizing their workplaces and their communities. We need to make sure that we, as labor, are communicating with them and working alongside them.”

group of USW members from local 8888

 A. Philip Randolph Institute President Clayola Brown, who helped organize the anniversary event, was one of dozens of speakers who graced the stage. She reminisced with the crowd of nearly 75,000 about being at the historic march in 1963.

“When I look out and see all of you, I can remember 60 years ago because I was in the trees right over there,” she said, pointing across the Mall. “It was Randolph and Bayard Rustin who got to the young people to talk with them about why it was necessary to do those same things we must do all over again.”

The 1963 march brought more than 250,000 people to the National Mall to push for an end to discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Many activists mark this occasion as the catalyst for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and see today’s America as in need of similar widespread change.

USW members with USW Balloons

Local 8888 member Kevin Fowler from Newport News, Va., is one of these people. He hopped on a bus with other USW activists to participate in the rally because he believes the work of the original march is not complete.

“Every right we fight for at the bargaining table can be taken away at the state and federal level,” said Fowler. “Unions fight for everybody, and all people do better when we do that. We need to unify, because our opposition is unified.”

Fowler isn’t alone. Joseph Brown of Local 12698 in Pennsylvania also attended the rally. He believes that although the fight for justice has been long, those on the ground cannot afford to give up as the next generation joins the battle. 

“Civil rights, housing, education, voting rights – we have been fighting for equity for so long,” he said. “We must continue to teach young people how to walk the walk and work toward a better and more just America.”

Roxanne Brown- USW Vice President at the march

March on Washington

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