This year, as we honor Dr. King’s life and legacy, his vision of racial justice and equity has taken on a newfound urgency amidst a deadly pandemic that has had a devastating impact on people of color, particularly working women, and an ever-growing movement to dismantle systemic racism.
A vocal supporter of workers’ rights, Dr. King often acknowledged the interconnectedness of the civil rights movement with the labor movement. While promising progress has been made on both fronts in the decades since he gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, to this day, working Black Americans, particularly Black women, still bear the brunt of economic inequity.
As we at A Better Balance have seen in our work to advance justice for women and caregivers of color, Black women, who are more likely to be primary caregivers and breadwinners in their families, are also disproportionately represented in low-wage, frontline jobs without access to vital supportive policies like paid leave, fair scheduling, and pregnancy and lactation accommodations. Throughout the pandemic, Black women have also been overrepresented across essential, public-facing positions, and have faced an increased risk of death and adverse health effects due to COVID.
In spite of the long, shameful history of oppression they have faced in our country, Black women have also been leading the fight to combat the inequality and violence embedded in our systems of power, serving as essential voices in the Black Lives Matter movement and keeping Dr. King’s legacy of speaking truth to power alive. We are honored to have worked alongside Black-led partner organizations, particularly in the South, to advance workplace policies that help form the building blocks of true economic equity for workers of color, especially Black women with caregiving responsibilities.
As we celebrate the progress that has been made by visionaries like Dr. King, and the continued strides towards justice being driven forward by Black activists, we remain committed to uplifting the voices of communities and leaders who have been impacted firsthand by systemic racism in our fight to build a more equitable future for all.