Council 4 members and retirees joined forces with thousands from the labor, civil rights and faith communities Oct. 15 for the March and Rally for Jobs and Justice on the National Mall in our nation’s capital.
The march – held one day before the official unveiling of Dr. Martin Luther King National Memorial – was led by AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders, civil rights activist and National Action Network founder Rev. Al Sharpton, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.
Godfrey Ferguson, AFSCME Local 2663 (Department of Social Services), was among the Council 4 members who packed two buses to make the trek to Washington, DC from our union office in New Britain.
“Dr. King was alive in the thousands of us gathered on the mall,” Ferguson reflected. “I could not help but feel that Dr. King was right when he said America had given its citizens a bad check, one marked ‘insufficient funds' when it was returned by the bank. We must continue our work to make that check good; we must fulfill the dream.”
Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968 while supporting 1,300 striking sanitation workers represented by AFSCME Local 1733. Shortly after Dr. King’s death, the workers won their battle.
"As I stood before the 30-foot stone of hope sculpture of Dr. King and looked up, I was awe-stricken. His message was crystal clear to me: aluta continua. The struggle continues,” Ferguson observed.
Emily Kennedy, AFSMCE Local 318 (Department of Labor), brought her daughters April and Ashley. The experience was memorable.
“I enjoyed the rally because these are things you only usually get to see on t.v. and to be there and be a part of it was amazing," 15-year-old Ashley Kennedy said. "But I also liked seeing the monuments in person because these are things that most people only see in text books.”
Added 12-year old April Kennedy, “I just liked seeing everyone wearing group [AFSCME-Dr. King] shirts and knowing that everyone wanted the same thing, like we were all a team, was neat. And seeing the MLK monument was so cool.”
“I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to share something like this with my kids," Emily Kennedy finished. "It’s so important for them to have experiences in life like this and I thank everyone very deeply [at Council 4] who made it happen."