Reflections on the ReclaimMLK March in Philadelphia

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The march on January 19th drew an energized crowd of thousands to the streets of Philadelphia. The march had three key goals: an end to stop and frisk in Philadelphia, a focus on raising the minimum wage to $15.00, and the demand for fully funded democratically controlled local school systems. Some of the encouraging things about the march were the size and composition of the people marching (well represented by race, culture, age, and gender), the peaceful but insistent aura that the marchers displayed, and the sharpening of the message that was delivered (the three main demands previously mentioned).

I believe strongly that change will come – not without great struggle, but the restoration of thinking primarily about the common good will eventually replace the individual, ego centered approach that currently holds sway. Encouraging things have happened since the march – Feltonville teachers advocating for their students by informing parents of the opt out provision from PSSA testing, ASPIRA charter teachers gaining support in their attempts to unionize, Governor Wolf signing a bill to ban fracking on state lands (of course, he needs to do even more in that area), and continuing rallies and meetings scheduled by the organizers of the march to keep the forward motion moving.

This shift away from just single issue protests is encouraging and has the feeling of a movement that can sustain itself. To be able to see the interconnectedness of multiple issues may be a key in accomplishing real change. The passion and commitment of the varied speakers at the culmination of the march was a joy to behold. These are all encouraging signs for the future of the move towards substantive change for our streets, our families, and our schools.

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