Today, Black History Month begins during a week of increasing racial and social tensions. From the Women’s March to the travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries, we are reminded of how much work lies ahead of us in the fight for equality. At the same time, we can’t forget the progress that has been made possible thanks to the contributions of generations of African Americans who have contributed politically, scientifically, culturally and socially to improve our country. From novels, poetry and music, to essays, inventions and marches, their contributions continue to inspire us today.
The activism of civil rights leaders in the past serves as a blueprint for our future. A. Philip Randolph, a labor organizer, civil rights activist, and organizer of the March on Washington, said “Let the nation and the world know the meaning of our numbers. We are not a pressure group, we are not an organization or a group of organizations, we are not a mob. We are the advanced guard of a massive, moral revolution for jobs and freedom.” We hold these words at the heart of the labor movement as we continue to confront the racial, economic, and social injustices we see every day.
With this ideal, we know we cannot sit back and allow prejudice to continue rearing its ugly head. Trump’s policies fly in the face of everything the labor movement stands for. We at the New Jersey State AFL-CIO stand for economic, racial and social justice for all of New Jersey’s working families. Now is the time when we must stand in unity against oppression and embrace our diversity. Black History Month is a reminder of both how far we have come and the work still ahead of us. Let us honor the past by committing to move forward together.