“What do you want? Justice! When do you want it? Now!” That was the chant of more than 500 people who attended a DUE Justice Rally in New Britain last night as they prepared to welcome the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP.
Barber electrified the audience with his message of how America needs to revive its heart. He outlined injustices in everyday life across the United States and in Connecticut and said how having a heart or reviving a heart would help solve many of the problems—from public education funding to healthcare and working wages.
“We need to have the courage to have a heart and care for everyone,” he said.
Barber told the crowd that 52 years after Brown v. Board of Education, segregated schools still exist across America.
“There are segregated resources right here in Connecticut,” he said. “I heard that some of you all are talking about walking out of public schools in protest of the lack of diversity and the lack of resources. I got these words for you: walk together children.”
Barber also commented on society’s priorities. “People are more concerned with protecting assault weapons then in fully funding public education,” he said.
Barber asked, “How much more bloodshed is needed before we curb the proliferation of guns?” He pointed to the 20 young lives lost in Newtown, the nightclub massacre in Orlando, the killing of police officers, and other senseless shootings.
Barber said America spends more money on weapons than it spends on the war against poverty.
“There are far too many who want tax cuts for the wealthy but who also want to raise taxes on the working poor and refuse to pay people a living wage.”
This, he says, is a heart problem.
The direct impact of this problem was highlighted by several union members who told the crowd about their struggles.
Sheila Soto, an 1199 union nursing home worker with four children, can’t pay all her bills despite working full time. She and other caregivers fought for $15 an hour pay and won the fight.
“Caregivers deserve better. We deserve dignity and respect, and when we fight together for what we deserve, we can win,” she said.
Randisa White, a full-time student and full-time employee at a fast food restaurant, earns $9.60 and hour and had to take a second job to help make ends meet. “We have to come together with one voice to see real change. I won’t stop until I get a living wage for myself and my brothers and sisters,” said White.