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Community march to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the anniversary of his assasination.Photo Credit: Francis Taylor for Sentinel
MLK, Jr. March and Rally Demands Policies to Rebuild Our CommunityThe Rev. Eric Lee, President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led nearly 1,000 community members, including Blacks and Latino's and representing some of the most powerful labor organizations in the Los Angeles area for a march commemorating the 41 anniversary of the assinnation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Saturday April 4.In addition to drawing attention to the need for good jobs, quality education and safe neighborhoods, supporters called upon Senator Diane Feinstein to support the Employee Free Choice Act. That pending federal legislation would allow workers to earn better wages, health care and retirement benefits by protecting their right to freely form a union. The spirited marchers also demanded an end to school budget cuts and safety measures to be instituted for the proposed Expo light rail line along the Exposition Boulevard corridor in Central Los Angeles.Rev. Eric Lee, President/CEO of the SCLC of Los Angeles, was the first to greet and welcome the marchers and rally participants as they set-up at 9:00 am at the Foshay Learning Center at Harvard and Exposition, before setting-out on the nearly two-mile march to Dorsey High School at Farmdale and Exposition. Acknowledging the diversity of the crowd with individuals 'decked-out' in t-shirts and buttons announcing their union affiliation as well as signs and banners calling for: "Stand For Security, It's time for an economy that works for everyone, SEIU - Change That Works," and others, Lee said. "We are here as one-people and we are going to take-back our community. We will be marching for and talking about the same things that Dr. King lived and died for: jobs, education and safe neighborhoods."Before the march got underway, which included representatives from union locals SEIU, the AFL-CIO, and the United Teachers Los Angeles, as well as community organizations including the Fix Expo Campaign, Say Yes to Children!, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, the Los Angeles Brotherhood Crusade, Mothers in Action, and others, the marchers were treated to encouraging and historical references to King's dream, struggle and ultimate sacrifice, from some of the community's leading labor leaders, elected officials, and community leaders.Some of the elected officials who were present for the March and Rally included, U.S. Congressman Xavier Becerra, Speaker of the California State Assembly Karen Bass, California State Assembly members Mike Davis, Kevin DeLeon, Mike Eng, Curren Price, and John PÅ½rez, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Los Angeles City Councilmember's Wendy Greuel, Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, and Herb Wesson.Mike Garcia, SEIU president of Local 1877, captured the essence of what was indicated by many of the speakers including; Faith Culbreath, president SEIU SOULA Local 2006, A.J. Duffy, president, United Teachers of Los Angeles, Marqueece Harris-Dawson, executive director of the Community Coalition in Los Angeles, Damien Goodmon, FixExpo.org, Marguerite LaMotte, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member, and a host of others."We are supporting Martin Luther King in the way we know how and that is to march," Garcia said. "We are marching for better jobs, quality education to prepare our young people for college and 21st century union jobs," he added. "We are also fighting for the safety of our community and we want the Expo train to go underground."The march proceeded without incident and neighborhood residents were observed waving-them-on, supportively, as they trekked along Exposition Boulevard. Upon arriving at the rear of Dorsey High School, where a podium had been set-up for additional speakers, the marchers were again treated to positive and uplifting remarks remembering King, realizing his dream, and celebrating his legacy.Speaker Bass commented that she is also an organizer and with President Barack Obama, we now have an organizer in the White House. She also recalled her memory of the day of King's assassination and the social climate at that time, noting that it affected her and touched her in a way that has influenced and contributed to her ascension to the powerful position of Speaker of the California Assembly.Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, talked about the positive and supportive communication between civil rights leaders King and Cesar Chavez 41 years ago as both were fighting for worker's rights to organize. She said workers then had the right to become union members and she urged Senator Feinstein to give current workers that same right with her support of The Employee Free Choice Act.After the speakers ended and the crowd began to dissipate, organizer Lee said. "We have established a foundation today," referring to the collaboration between Blacks and Latinos. "Going forward we will be holding our elected officials more accountable for delivering quality education, health care, decent jobs, and safe transportation systems," he added."Elected officials must talk and listen to the people before they act and make decisions that affect everyone," Lee concluded.