BLOOMFIELD — On Saturday, the weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a diverse group of labor, community, and civil rights organizations came together to pledge to continue Dr. King’s fight to promote democracy, and to end racial and economic inequality.
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The event, titled “A Celebration of Unity, Equality & Democracy,” was held at the Bethel AME Church in Bloomfield.
Participants came not only to celebrate the life of Dr. King, but to commit to building a more just and inclusive society. The diverse group of people that attended pledged to work together and hold leaders accountable on five key themes. They included good jobs and fair wages; universal access to quality public education (preschool to graduate school); a vibrant and fairly funded public sector; racial, gender, and ethnic justice; and democracy in our state and in our workplaces.
Bilal Sekou, the chair of the good-government group Common Cause Connecticut, served as the master of ceremonies for the event. He began by connecting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s vision of a just and equal society to the challenges facing the nation in 2016.
“In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964, Dr. King said ‘I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.,’” said Sekou. “These days, we see the middle class shrinking, wages stagnating, voting rights under attack, and black and Latinos facing high unemployment and diminished economic opportunities. If we are to achieve Dr. King’s audacious vision, people from all backgrounds need to unite together in a common struggle. Our Celebration of Unity, Equality & Democracy on Dr. King’s birthday weekend is about just that.”
Endorsing organizations were diverse and ranged from civil rights organizations to labor federations and good government groups. Groups like the Greater Hartford Branch of the NAACP, Connecticut AFL-CIO, Common Cause, and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.
“There is greater income inequality today than when Dr. King marched in the summer of 1963,” declared Lori J. Pelletier, President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. “People are angry, scared and uncertain about what the future holds. This event convenes people from diverse backgrounds to learn, discuss and plan how we can affect change for all working families.”
Dan Durant, a board member of the Greater Hartford Branch of the NAACP, helped organize the event.
“When Dr. Martin Luther King made common cause with the labor movement, he recognized that the fight for workers’ rights and the fight for civil rights were one and the same,” Durant concluded.
Other leaders at the event, “A Celebration of Unity, Equality & Democracy,” reflected on MLK’s message of unity. Click here to see what some of them had to say.