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'One Nation' Rally Brings 175,000 to Washington, DC with Demands for Jobs, Education, and Civil Rights

By Kati Ketz |
October 4, 2010
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Over one hundred thousand gather on National Mall to demand jobs on October 2
Over 175,000 people rallied on Oct. 2 to demand jobs and income, the right to higher education, to defend civil rights and protest racism, and to oppose right-wing politics (Fight Back! News)

Washington DC – Over 175,000 people rallied here on Oct. 2 to demand jobs and income, the right to higher education, to defend civil rights and protest racism, and to oppose right-wing politics. The NAACP, SEIU, and AFL-CIO were among the main sponsors of the rally. Thousands of NAACP chapters, union locals, and progressive organizations all over the country worked together to mobilize the huge turnout for the demonstration, stressing the need for workers to unite.

Students and union workers were among the many people there, with union locals sending buses of workers to the rally in support of the demand for not just more jobs, but better unionized jobs. Among the many anti-war groups there were the International Action Center, the Peace Table, the Troops Out Now Coalition, and the United National Antiwar Committee. Students for a Democratic Society and the Defend Education coalition were also there to represent the education rights movement. Speaking from the main stage, legendary actor and singer Harry Belafonte condemned the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, telling the demonstrators, "The wars that we wage today in far away lands are immoral, unconscionable and unwinnable."

The recently-formed Committee to Stop FBI Repression distributed thousands of flyers about the Sept. 24 FBI raids on anti-war and union activists. Many people had already heard about the FBI raids, and many said they were joining with or organizing rallies at federal buildings or FBI offices against the raids on Tuesday Oct. 5th. A major demand among anti-war and progressive activists at the rally was to end the recent FBI repression of peace activists. Some union stewards said that they would read the flyer out loud at their next union meeting to inform all workers of what is happening. 

Kosta Harlan, an anti-war activist with Students for a Democratic Society who was visited by four FBI agents on Sept. 24, spoke at both the anti-war and education rights feeder rallies. "The FBI repression of these peace activists is an attack on all people who work for social justice," said Harlan. "They don’t want us to speak out against war, poverty, and racism. But we will continue to speak our conscience."

In addition to the main rally, there were feeder marches that focused on specific issues. These included an anti-war feeder rally that focused on the need to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as supporting peace in Palestine. There was also a student and youth defend education rally, where speakers talked about the huge increases in tuition at public universities, and how any budget cuts should be from the top administrators, not on the backs of students and university workers. Speakers also pointed out the inequalities between different nationalities in the United States, and how oppressed nationalities are excluded and marginalized in the education system.

Overwhelmingly, the focus was on pressuring Congress act to create jobs for the millions of unemployed, and to provide quality jobs that would improve the livelihood of the 44 million Americans living below the poverty line.