Almost 100 years ago, Sadie Alexander became the nation’s first Black person to earn a PHD in economics, solidifying her role as a fierce champion of a federal job guarantee. She knew that a reliable job was essential to the social and economic mobility of folks who, for too long, had been left out and left behind – and saw federal job guarantee as the best way to achieve full employment and overcome systemic economic barriers facing Black people across the country. The policy would later become a key demand of civil rights leaders.
[Bernice King] My mother, Coretta Scott King, picked up that mantle and spent years advocating for a federal job guarantee.
[Coretta Scott King] It is time for both fresh ideas and new leadership to come forth because without it our society is on sinking sand.
[Bernice King] She told congress that no issue is more important to the elimination of human suffering and to the advancement of the nonviolent ideal than the issue of providing jobs for all Americans.
[Martin Luther King] I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
[Pressley] The 1953 March on Washington, where Dr. King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, was a march for jobs and freedom. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Washington to demand voting rights and economic justice in the form of a massive federal program to train and place unemployed workers in meaningful, dignified jobs for decent wages.
In recent years there have been calls for a public option for employment but the deep disparities exposed by the health and economic crisis we now face, require us to go even further.
Another world is possible. Yes, it is possible to legislate justice and accountability. People over profits. Joy over trauma. Freedom over fear. Yes it is possible to write budgets that actually value Black lives.
It’s time to establish a legal right to a job for all people in America. I’m proud to build on and honor the legacy and work of generations of Black women like Sadie and Coretta by introducing a historical proposal to do exactly that. The legal right to employment is critical to affirming the dignity and humanity of all, and set a new baseline of dignified work, wages, and benefits for all workers.
Do you believe the Federal Reserve can achieve full employment? And by full employment I mean anyone who wants to work, and can work, will have a job available to them.
[Powell Key] First, thank you for that history, I didn’t know that – so that’s our goal, that’s what we’re working to do at all times.
[Pressley] As civil rights leader Ella Baker said, “People cannot be free until there is enough work in this land to give everybody a job.”
A job guarantee is an investment in the American people, our communities, and an equitable economy that works for all. Our ongoing struggle for civil rights demands our collective action to uplift the dignity, humanity, and freedom of every member of our society. And that starts with a federal job guarantee.
Join me in setting this new standard.
Pressley, A. [Ayanna Pressley]. (2021, February 22) Federal Job Guarantee [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie0jboXKIgE]. Retrieved on February 21, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFtjr4S5tz4zqZT5cfenkIA.