The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
We take our name from the 1963 March on Washington. The lesser-known but full name of the march was the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” When tens of thousands of Americans gathered that day, they called for an end to discrimination and segregation. They also called for full employment and living wages. The Heartland Center draws its vision from those who believed that racial equality and good jobs for all were not only imperative, but inextricably bound and critical to the welfare of our entire nation.
Ella Baker, a brilliant strategist, organizer and leader, helped build and develop the civil rights organizations that drove the civil rights movement. Ella Baker believed, as we do, that social change can only come about when masses of ordinary people come together, unite, and organize. That is why Ella Baker devoted herself to developing the leadership capacity of others. We look to Ella Baker’s inspiring example as we provide training to the low-wage workers leading movements for change.
Charles Hamilton Houston
For our legal work, we at the Heartland Center draw inspiration from civil rights pioneer Charles Hamilton Houston. Fondly referred to as “the man who killed Jim Crow,” Hamilton Houston crafted the legal strategy that, after 20 years of court battles, led to Brown v. Board of Education. We believe, as Hamilton Houston did, that the highest calling of an attorney, and indeed the only respectable one, is to work toward the transformation of society.
When American workers succeeded in placing Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House, Frances Perkins became the Secretary of Labor. As workers organized and fought for the minimum wage, the eight-hour day, and jobs programs from the outside, Frances Perkins crafted the legislation that met those demands and avidly fought for their passage from the inside. Today, we at the Heartland Center enforce the very workplace rights that Frances Perkins and the labor movement of the 1930’s won. We stand on their shoulders as we do so.
We at the Heartland Center gather inspiration from fearless labor leaders like Emma Tenayuca. Emma Tenayuca, a Mexican-American from a poor working family, organized garment and farm workers’ unions and led several large-scale strikes that challenged deplorable working conditions and poverty wages. Among the strikes she organized was the famous Pecan Shellers’ Strike that many characterize as the first significant victory in the Mexican-American struggle for political and economic equality. We believe, as Emma Tenayuca did, that working people have the power to fight for and win economic justice and freedom.