|IAM Executive Council Members, holding the banner from left to right, Eastern Territory GVP Lynn Tucker, Jr., GVP Diane Babineaux, Midwest Territory GVP Philip Gruber, GST Robert Roach, Jr., International President Tom Buffenbarger, and GVP Dora Cervantes, fourth from right, led a contingent of IAM members to the 50th anniversary celebration of the 1963 March on Washington.|
The continued quest to realize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision outlined in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech drew tens of thousands from across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington.
The IAM joined the throng from the civil rights, labor and religious communities to remind the nation that the struggle continues for the same issues outlined by King and the original 1963 march organizers A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin – political and economic equality, jobs and the right to vote.
“Five decades ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on this spot declaring his dream for a better, more fulfilled America,” said IAM General Vice President Diane Babineaux. “It is his call to action that we still hear today as we fight for jobs, the right to vote and to protect our social safety net, which includes pensions and retirement security.”
The event, sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured a roster of speakers who spoke from the steps where King once stood, including representatives from labor who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with human and civil rights leaders, just as they did 50 years ago. Speakers included AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees President Lee Saunders. Former Southern Christian Leadership Conference President Rev. Joseph Lowery, Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), the youngest speaker at the rally 50 years ago, also addressed the crowd.
“This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration,” said King III. “Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.”
King, Sharpton and many speakers expressed outrage over the recent high court decision to gut the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
“I gave a little blood on that bridge in Selma, Alabama, for that right to vote,” said Rep. Lewis referring to the savage beating he suffered during the 1965 voting rights march referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” “I am not going to stand by and let the Supreme Court take the right to vote away from us. You cannot stand by. You cannot sit down. You’ve got to stand up. Speak up, speak out and get in the way.”
“There is no better way for IAM members to practice the values of our union as when we put our minds and hearts to the task and our feet in motion to support the beliefs we hold dear,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “We march in the spirit of A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Dr. King and all those who stand up for justice and human rights in America and around the world.”
“Thank you to all of the IAM members who attended this march. We are proud of all those who took the time to be a part of this historic event,” said Buffenbarger on behalf of himself, IAM General Secretary-Treasurer Robert Roach and the entire IAM Executive Council.