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Momentum builds for October 2 march

Herb Boyd | 4/12/2011, 5:27 p.m.

"Hey, we're out here and ready to march on Washington on October 2," said a young lady, proudly pointing to her T-shirt emblazoned with "One Nation," the banner under which thousands will march with her in the nation's capital.

She was just one of several members of a One Nation Working Together contingent participating in the recent African-American Parade in Harlem. "It's time for us to resume the marches that brought about change in the '60s," she said, though it was clear that she was too young to be among the quarter million Americans at the historic 1963 March on Washington.

Organizers are hoping that her enthusiasm is contagious and fires up Americans who represent a diverse community of activism, all of them ready to demand jobs, justice, and education, which are the goals of the march.

During a recent conference call, NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous spelled out some of the reasons for the march.

"One Nation Working Together is a movement of everyday people who are marching on 10-2-10, along with human and civil rights organizations, unions and trade associations, youth and student groups, faith, educational, environmental, peace, gender and identity rights groups, and hundreds of other groups," he began. "We are making a direct demand: to reclaim our fundamental right to the American Dream. We are holding our representatives in Washington accountable for re-focusing national priorities on what is important: the people."

Also on the call with Jealous was Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She tied her comments to the education theme of the march, saying, "As a nation, we need to move beyond divisive politics and work together to address issues such as the deepening jobs crisis, a broken immigration system, struggling public education systems and environmental disasters. A robust economy, good jobs and strong public schools go hand in hand. To accomplish these goals, we all must work together--elected officials, community leaders, educators, parents, the business community, our young people--to strengthen public education and other institutions."

Weingarten noted, "America's competitive edge in the world economy and the ability of working people to compete and qualify for good jobs are inextricably linked with educational opportunity. Our strength as a people and a nation will depend on how well we invest in our children."

Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, also participated in the call and echoed Weingarten's sentiments. "We have been able to bring together groups and individuals who have never worked together before because we all share the common need for more and secure jobs now, equal justice for every person in this country and access to high-quality public education for all children," she said.

While a recent report from noted economists has declared that the recession is over, millions of Americans continue to struggle to find decent jobs and full-time employment. And that merely underscores the urgency of the One Nation Working Together movement.

Moreover, figures recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that one in seven Americans--that's 45.6 million people--live in poverty in the United States. This is the third consecutive year of increases. African-Americans saw an increase from 24.7 percent to 25.85 percent, and Hispanics living in poverty jumped from 23.2 percent to 25.3 percent.

"With the 10-2-10 march, we are serving notice to Congress," Weingarten said. "We will march on October 2, and we will march again on November 2 into the voting booths. We need and expect decisive leadership to overcome this country's urgent challenges. We in One Nation Working Together are ready to do our part."