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We keep marching … jobs and freedom are still needed

Lee A. Daniels | 9/9/2013, 9:46 a.m.
Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His most recent book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America. He collaborated with Rachel Robinson on her 1998 book, Jackie Robinson: An Intimate Portrait. NNPA

But the article named only White women to the list.

Reaction, particularly from the Black Twitterverse, was swift in coming about the “unintended racism” the article put on display. Many of those comments showed they understood that being on such a list in a magazine of Fast Company’s influence was likely to bring new business contacts and new business dollars to those on it. Such comments showed, again, how the seemingly “unthinking” exclusion of Blacks and other people of color from mainstream institutions, companies, events and activities has always been an important component of stamping a “Whites-only” sign in front of vast pathways to advancement in America.

What does each of these events have in common, then?

Money, of course. Money is not simply a legal tender to buy things; but money as a marker of an individual’s value in the labor market and in the larger society. Money is the means that an individual can forge a measure of comfort and security for his or her family and provide a solid financial foundation for the family’s next generation. And money that can circulate in one’s own community to help build and maintain the resources that make that community a viable place to live.

That is what Martin Luther King Jr. and A. Philip Randolph and the other organizers and participants of the 1963 March on Washington understood: That economic fairness – a decent, liveable wage in exchange for good work – was as much a foundation of a just society as were laws that barred discrimination and promoted opportunity.

That’s why they called that iconic event “The March for Jobs and Freedom.”

Lee A. Daniels is a longtime journalist based in New York City. His latest book is Last Chance: The Political Threat to Black America.