March 16, 2012
47 years later, another Selma to Montgomery march
Earlier this month, AFL-CIO and others reenacted the historic march 47 years ago from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand voting rights for African Americans. U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, joined the marchers, and she wrote about her experience for the Montgomery Advisor:
Last week I came to Alabama to march.
I marched because I remember the ordinary citzens who stood up against batons and fire hoses and injustice on the road from Selma to Montgomery 47 years ago.
I marched to celebrate how these courageous men and women rallied a nation’s conscience and helped America achieve one of our greatest civil rights victories with the passage of the Voting Right Act of 1965.
I marched because I remember President Lyndon Johnson’s warning during the chaos of Selma and “Bloody Sunday” nearly half a century ago.
“Even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over,” he said. “What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. … Because, really, it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”
I marched because President Johnson was right. The battle is not over. Last year brought fresh attacks on the right to vote, the right to organize, the right to receive a quality public education and, for some, even the right to walk down the street without fear.
I marched this week not only because Alabama’s immigration law, H.B. 56, threatens to undermine the basic American values of fairness and equality, but also because it is harming Alabama’s economy.
I marched this week because families across this state are hurting right now, and it’s in our power to help them. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has been growing wider for way too long. The American people don’t have the luxury of waiting for the next election for Congress to act on job-creating measures the President has proposed. They need jobs now.
47 years later, voting rights are under still attack
Secretary Solis addressed a crowd in White Hall, Alabama about the critical role for organized labor in turning back the Republican-led war on voting rights.
“Last year brought fresh attacks on the right to vote, the right to organized, the right to receive a quality public education, and for some, even the right to hold a job or walk down the street without fear of being racially profiled.”
Speaking about what is being done about state Voter ID laws, Secretary Solis said she knows “the Department of Justice is working hard” on that.
“But you all need to know that if it wasn’t for President Barack Obama, you would not be having the Department of Justice fighting to contest this erroneous law in federal court right now.”
All of us should be proud to have a leader like Hilda Solis serving the workers of the United States as our Secretary of Labor. Secretary Solis is a reminder than we won more than a presidential election in 2008 – we won a fighter for working people in the federal department charged with protecting our rights.