While listening to pundits parse voting blocs during primary coverage, I realized I have seldom heard the phrase “black working class.” It’s as though it doesn’t exist. I thought of my dad and all the women and men living in neat rowhouses in my Baltimore neighborhood who trudged home exhausted every day.
Held back by union rules and company practices that discriminated, they settled for what was left while fighting for more. Many remained the working poor, another description that doesn’t fit the stereotype.
The official name of the 1963 event that drew a quarter of a million people was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was chaired by civil rights leader and union organizer A. Philip Randolph, who had used plans for a similar march in 1941 to pressure President Franklin D. Roosevelt into issuing an executive order banning discrimination in the defense industry and set up the Fair Employment Practices Commission.
Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns” describes the Great Migration of 6 million African Americans from the South for much of the 20th century, citizens looking for opportunity.
Their marches and movements demanded jobs, the vote, good schools and equal opportunity, but never food stamps, despite the mantra that translated into a South Carolina primary win for Newt Gingrich, a historian who should know better.
My late father was proud that his hard work sent his children off to college; it’s the American way. And despite easy political posturing, whenever someone pays tribute to the people who do the work in this country, it’s his face I see.
Mary C. Curtis: Yes, you can be black and blue-collar, but the media gets it wrong (via pantslessprogressive)
It is so tragic that white liberals and progressives have allowed this ignorance to slide. It’s like we so sold our souls for the tech revolution that we allowed the working class in general, and blacks in particular, to be marginalized by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Newt Gingrich.