Key goals of 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are still unmet

The March was about civil rights, voting rights and racial equality, but it was also about the need for jobs and for jobs that paid a decent wage. The marchers wanted the federal minimum wage raised nearly 75 percent, from $1.15 an hour to $2.00 an hour. They also called for “A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers—Negro and white—on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.”

In 1963, the unemployment rate averaged about 5.0 percent, which looks good compared to today’s 8.3 percent, but King and the other organizers wanted full employment and believed it was the federal government’s responsibility to provide it. If that meant hiring 3 million people, so be it; every American had the right to decent paid work if he wanted it. The economy had to be structured in a way that left no one behind. [Read more]