January 15, 2022 People’s Organization for Progress (POP), Newark, NJ / Photo: Bill Solow
By Larry Hamm, Chairman of People’s Organization for Progress
January 18, 2022
On January 15th — the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — the People’s Organization For Progress held its annual march in his honor in Newark. The group believes the best way to honor Dr. King is to protest injustice and put forward a social justice agenda.
The theme of this year’s march centered on voting rights and racial justice. As scores of us marched through the freezing, 18-degree cold it was clear to us that most of the social justice agenda that Dr. King was fighting for is yet to be achieved.
What is also clear is how virulent and intractable a disease racism and white supremacy is in the United States during the 21st Century. Despite the gains made by the civil rights movement during the sixties, racial inequality and segregation are greater today than they were when Dr. King was alive.
Racially motivated violence and attacks are on the rise. Racial discrimination and oppression are still very much a part of this society. The black-white wealth gap is as wide now as it was in 1968, the year of King’s assassination.
Fighting racism in all of its forms was at the top of the agenda then and it must be at the top of the agenda today. Some people claim racism is less of a problem today. A few even claim it no longer exists. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The idea of racial inferiority is still very much alive in America, and it must be denounced, condemned, and relegated to the trash heap of society. We must continue to challenge racist ideology, laws, policies, practices, procedures, behaviors, and culture. We must root it out of our institutions and society. We must work fervently to eliminate racial inequality.
We marched to demand passage of voting rights bills passed by the House and scheduled to come before the Senate. We also marched to demand abolition of the filibuster, which may be used to block passage of these voting rights bills.
Here we are, 22 years into the 21st Century, and we are still marching and fighting for rights that Dr. King and many others died, bled, and sacrificed for in my lifetime, less than 60 years ago.