On April 4, 1968 – five decades ago to the day – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King risked and ultimately sacrificed his life in a fight for racial and economic justice in America. Hear civil rights leaders of today reflect on his legacy.
But his legacy is too often co-opted and his message appropriated by people who are actually fighting for policies that stand in opposition to King’s values. Dr. King was in Memphis for a sanitation workers’ strike, and throughout his life, he argued for better wages, working conditions, and strong unions for low-income workers and communities of color. But the Trump administration and many in Congress are enacting policies that weaken Americans’ power to organize into unions and earn decent wages. And the congressional Republicans’ tax plan will only exacerbate the wealth gap, which King fought so hard to end. King also devoted much of his life to ending the injustices within our health care system, saying, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” But too many of our members of Congress are trying to undermine the progress made under the Affordable Care Act. He fought tirelessly for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but conservatives in power have essentially turned back the clock through voter ID laws, gerrymandered districts, and voter roll purges – all of which disproportionately disadvantage people of color.
So on a day when we honor the legacy and radically progressive message of a great leader, don’t fall for the rhetorically fluffed messages from people like Vice President Mike Pence, who says he “honors the man and the Dream.” Pence has dedicated his entire life to oppressing minorities and disadvantaging every American who does not share every single one of his traits. Politicians like him are just hoping you believe their whitewashed version of King’s message of peace and equality, rather than the reality of his radical distaste for institutions that systemically and systematically stack the deck in favor of the rich and powerful and against the poor and people of color.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Our Environment. Everyone is impacted by the environment—by the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the outdoor areas we enjoy. But President Trump and his congressional allies are putting all that at risk, putting the interests of corporate polluters above our communities’ health and safety. Have you been affected by the actions of this administration or Congress? Want to share your story? Head to OurEnvironment.org, and let us know what’s at stake for you and your loved ones.
#2020Census. Last week, the Trump administration announced that the 2020 Census would include a new, untested, and unnecessary, citizenship question. Experts are predicting that the response rate to the Census could drop drastically, as people avoid it out of fear and panic. A range of groups have raised the alarm, including 161 mayors from both parties and 60 members of Congress. Now, 18 states are suing the administration to stop this addition to the 2020 Census, including Connecticut, North Carolina, Delaware, and Iowa.
National Guard. Yesterday, Trump announced that he’s planning to deploy the National Guard to “protect” the southern border. This is a bad idea for multiple reasons, not least of which because they won’t have much to do. With unauthorized border crossings at 45-year lows, the average Border Patrol agent on the southern border today only apprehends one person every 19 days. In addition, sending the National Guard doesn’t eliminate the important humanitarian protections in our law that are designed to prevent the return of people facing persecution, torture, and human trafficking—protections that Trump derides as a “whole big wasted procedure.” Instead of continuing with these anti-immigrant, nativist policies, Trump and Congress need to pass a permanent solution for Dreamers and restore America’s reputation as a welcoming nation.
UNDER THE RADAR
Overtime. Last October, the Trump administration abandoned Obama-era overtime protections, leaving millions of workers without pay for the overtime hours they work. On Sunday, April 1st, the amount of overtime wages lost by American workers as a result of Trump’s action reached $500 million. See this overtime tracker for the amount of wages workers in your state and nationally have lost. Then, add your name to this petition calling for Congress to pass the Restoring Overtime Pay Act.