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March on Washington 60 years later — where are we now?

 August 30, 2023 at 12:24 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on Kpbs. 60 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Where does the country stand and where does San Diego stand ? I'm Jade Hindman. Here's the conversations that keep you informed , inspired and make you think. The consensus is that progress has been made to reach Dr. Martin Luther King's dream , but some of that progress is being rolled back.

S2: Well , historically , there's been a backlash to the perceived gains of black people in this country.

S1: We'll break down the work that needs to be done and talk with one San Diego organization doing some of that work by lifting people out of poverty. That's ahead on Midday Edition. This week marks 60 years since the March on Washington for Jobs and freedom. In 1963 , 250,000 people gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in DC to demand voting rights , fair wages , economic justice , education , civil rights and an end to segregation. Here to discuss how much progress has been made on those demands and what work still needs to be done is Professor Addison Allen , PhD. He is chair and associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University. Professor Balon , welcome back to Midday Edition.

S2: Thank you. Happy to be. Here.

S1: Here. Glad to have you.

S2: It demonstrates the collective power that people have and that how mobilizing grassroots organizations on a massive scale can truly bring about change. And it's not that I don't have conceptual issues with the march or some of the behind the scenes negotiations , but it's important to celebrate the successes of the march , namely the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act that followed , but also celebrate a Philip Randolph who began organizing a march on Washington more than 20 years prior. He proposed it in 1941 , and out of it came the Fair Employment Practice Committee and an executive order banning discrimination in defense industry. So it was his brainchild that the so-called Big Six seize upon for the 1960 3rd March. So also celebrate a Philip Randolph as well.

S1: You know , many are under the assumption that the generation who fought for all those things and fought in the 60s didn't do enough.

S2: But I'm hard pressed to find a mass collection of folks who fought and sacrificed as much as activists in the civil rights and black power movements did. And there is a tendency to erase the black power movement and black nationalists for their equally important contributions towards African American liberation. But did enough happen ? Perhaps not. But don't blame those who are part of the movement. Blame those who didn't take the baton and continue the struggle. It's an unreasonable expectation that 1960s advocates should have solved all of the racial and economic problems that plagued our community. But what are what are we doing now ? You know , how are we addressing the issues of our society today ? So I would I would ask those questions in return.

S1: You know , you that that's an interesting point about people not picking up the baton and and moving forward. What generation do you think failed to do that and why ? Wow.

S2: Well , mean. You're seriously trying to get me in trouble with folks who I teach today , but I think that we all kind of have that responsibility. I mean , even those who were , you know , alive during the civil rights and black power. Eras , and perhaps it's unfair for them. But , you know , they've , you know , kind of , you know , pass the baton and , you know , kind of sitting back watching things unfold. And certainly , you know , younger people today , whether we're talking about , you know , millennials or Gen Zers , there's this and as a you know , as a historian , you know , as an Africana studies professor , I see how limited students or young people's knowledge is today of what happened in the past and how what happened in the past can provide in many ways a roadmap to solving some of the issues that we have today. So think that at the end of the day , you know , we are all , regardless of our generation , is , you know , you know , we're all responsible for picking up that baton and moving forward.


S2: I mean , the 1970s , you know , in the early 1980s was a you know , was a kind of loan and , you know , black political movements and the movement for civil rights , you know , the black power movement was , you know , they were brought to an end by the state. I mean , the FBI was largely responsible for ending the black power movement. But certainly affirmative action theoretically , you know , was , you know , a very. You know , it was programs that made us passive in many ways , believing that we have arrived or we have overcome. But the challenges were far from over.


S2: You know , so contemporary issues like challenging de facto segregation , you know , fair housing , police violence , which is mass incarceration , which are , you know , two of the most pressing issues that we face today , you know , access to the ballot , all of those things still persist. The civil rights movement didn't cure all of those ills. Mean the March on Washington was supposed to be a catalyst for change and not solely , you know , obtaining civil and voting rights legislation. But also I think it's an important conversation to have that King founded morally indefensible , to align strictly with one party and unfortunately , counter to what I believe is in the best interest of African Americans , most African American organizations , traditional and otherwise. And the African American leadership class , you know , have become an extension of the Democratic Party and have failed to hold it to account for its benign neglect in many ways.

S1: And what can you give me some examples of of the party's neglect ? Well.

S2: The party has not been a strong advocate for African Americans continuing to have unfettered access to the ballot. The , you know , less than vociferous support of the of the Voting Rights Act is very troublesome. The Democratic Party , one of the most important issues that many African Americans have today is the question of reparations. The Democratic Party have not , you know , embraced reparations as a part of its platform , particularly , you know , not supporting , you know , reparations in large part and I mean , on a federal level. So there are many things. Mass incarceration , of course , mass incarceration was ushered in , you know , under Democratic leadership. The war on drugs mean it may not have started with Democratic leadership , but it certainly increase it exponentially under Democratic leadership. So those are the kinds of things that African Americans kind of , you know , fail to hold the Democratic Party's feet to the fire. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: Another aspect of the march was the labor movement , you know , wages , economic justice. And that fight is still so evident today when we see all of the unions and workers on strike from Hollywood to UPS pushing for higher wages.

S2: You know , whether we're talking about , you know , trying to compel labor organizations to embrace , embrace the African American worker , and it didn't happen. It would be many generations before that happened , whether we're talking about fighting for a higher minimum wage and even , you know , of course , the conversation is usually around $15 per hour for the minimum wage , which is still , you know , well below , you know , a living wage , unemployment. A lot of , you know , African Americans or a lot of Americans have , you know , given up , you know , on seeking employment. So it's been a kind of you know , when we talk about the unemployment rate being small , it's kind of fool's gold because a lot of people have given up. And I do understand that the pandemic also had a great deal to do with that as well. But the labor movement or labor issues historically has been at the forefront of the challenges that many Americans have faced and continue to face.

S1: Mm hmm. You know , many of the things fought for during the civil rights movement are under attack right now. Voting rights , education , civil rights protections , fair wages.

S2: Some have already mentioned , but also think without question , Donald Trump's presidency emboldened a certain segment of the population. He normalized outward racial hostility through his rhetoric that really harkened back to the days before society started using buzzwords like law and order or , you know , the war on crime , the war on drugs. ET cetera. And quite frankly , the rhetoric and policies of a senator named Joe Biden typifies the use of those buzzwords that still amounted to racist practices and policies impacting African Americans. But today , you know , the rhetoric has returned to being unambiguously racialized. So it's been a return to that. But also historically , there's been a backlash to the perceived gains of black people in this country. What we are witnessing today , I think as a result of the profound but temporary impact of the movement that reached its height in 2020 , dealing with racial justice , police violence , etcetera. So much like the backlash against African Americans that they received after the tumultuous 1960s police reparations , police repression has really intensified since the late 1960s. And the FBI was largely , you know , along with local law enforcement agencies , you know , were largely responsible for that and attacking , you know , political dissidents. And we we've seen a return to those kinds of practices today.

S1: What I hear from from many people today is that fair wages , economic justice , voting rights , education , civil rights protections , those things are not negotiable issues. What are your thoughts on that ? Well.

S2: I agree with that. Or at least that they shouldn't be negotiable. But , you know , to my earlier point , you know , we constantly , you know , put in other words , but we constantly find ourselves in negotiation with the very party that most African Americans have embraced for the last 60 years. So in many ways , you know , I suppose it's it's easier to fight with those identified as the enemy as opposed to those who claim to be friends. So those are my thoughts on that. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: Know back to to the previous question. You know , this 60th anniversary is coupled with a racist mass shooting at a Dollar General in Jacksonville , Florida.

S2: Is a blow to the message and meaning of Martin Luther King and many within the civil rights movement who embrace , you know , civil disobedience , peaceful protest. But I think , you know , the extremism , particularly in Florida , but certainly in other places , is a tragedy that highlights , you know , King's dream as being very idealistic. It obviously did not reflect America at that time , only what he had hoped it could become. But over the last several years , we have witnessed a retreat to very violent and painful chapters in American history , in American society.


S2: So whether we are talking about , you know , that violence or desantis's rhetoric and policies regarding teaching and learning African American history and the downplaying of the impact that enslavement had on black people in this country. But again , also the violence that we've seen in places like Jacksonville and Buffalo and Virginia and Charleston a few years back. So in that way , extremism has definitely been mainstreamed.


S2: But , of course , demonstrations should be peaceful. And I do advocate for civil disobedience in certain instances , but also think new strategies and tactics should be developed in our modern society. When we're talking about the civil rights movement or when we're talking about , you know , in the 1960s , that was a long time ago. I mean , many of us , you know , myself included , you know , weren't even born in the 1960s. So I think that it's important for us to always approach these issues with a fresh set of eyes and evaluate what we did in the past , what worked , what didn't work , and come up with innovative and new strategies to ensure that American society lives up to its stated ideals.


S2: And it was during the Obama administration. So his administration developed and signed into law H.R. 347 , which restricted protests at or near certain buildings. And , you know , it was , you know , was passed by Congress. But the bill essentially helped establish , uh , you know. Federal authority to crack down on peaceful demonstrations. So in that way. Obama The Obama administration kind of criminalized protest.

S3: Mm hmm.


S2: I mean , we have to kind of take it today. And by that mean , you know , people of conscience should be loyal to truth and justice , embrace our principles and embrace people who speak to our needs as a community and as a society rather than , you know , institution who , you know , we think theoretically should be speaking to our issues or hope that they will speak to our issues. So I think communities are really weighted down by putting its hope and faith in corporate and political institutions or or corporate political parties , rather than focusing exclusively on its issues and values and who shares those issues and values with the community. So that's how I think we should move forward. It should be issues based rather than based on a political party.

S1: I've been speaking with Professor Adisa Boland , Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University. Dr. Al Balon , thank you so much for your insight.

S2: You are welcome. Thank you for the invitation.

S1: How Jewish Family Services is Working to Move Economic Mobility Forward for San Diegans.

S3: The Racial wealth gap.

S4: And the employment gap are still things that we're talking about and things we are addressing today in 2023.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. Welcome back to Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. We just heard from Sdsu Professor Adisa Balan on where progress stands in the pursuit of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream laid out in his 1963 speech. Normalcy Never again. A bit. Part of that dream was , and still is , for everyone to make at least a living wage , have a job and build wealth. That goal seems to be far in the distance as we head into Labor Day against the backdrop of employees across the country demanding higher wages. Meanwhile , the cost of living continues to rise , driving more people into poverty. Kia Pollard is the director of Economic Mobility and Opportunity at San Diego nonprofit Jewish Family Services. She joins Midday Edition to talk about the state of poverty in San Diego and what's being done to fix it. Kia , welcome. Hi.

S4: Hi. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

S1: So glad to have you here. You know , the march on Washington was for jobs and freedom. Many say that the jobs part of that march has been forgotten. The part where they demand a higher minimum wage , which was closer to a living wage , more jobs , a way to provide for the starving and homeless in this nation.

S4: We're fighting underemployment , unemployment still. And specifically speaking , you know , the racial wealth gap and the employment gap are still things that we're talking about and things we are addressing today. In 2023 , we're fighting racial intimidation , the rise in violence , you know , including gun violence. That's very much included in undergirded. When we talk about race in this country , um , we're still talking about mass incarceration. So there are so many things that folks like Martin Luther King , Bayard Rustin , John Lewis were talking about then that are still very prevalent today. So while progress was made , we clearly have a long way to go.

S1: And that fight for economic justice is still ongoing and it's something that you address a lot in your line of work.

S4: So there are folks , as I mentioned before , who are employed but aren't making enough to live in San Diego County when , you know , the median home rice price has risen so significantly over the past decade. You've got the Covid 19 pandemic where people have lost jobs , their main source of economic security. Um , people are hurting. And when we think about the number of children in poverty in San Diego County , just under half children in San Diego County living in poverty , we are moved to action not only to eliminate poverty , but look at it and be very specific about who is experiencing the brunt of economic destabilization.

S3: And I want to.

S1: Dig into that a little bit more.

S4: We're talking about Latinx community. We're talking about the black community , we're talking about the community. It's these communities. And we're also talking about women. You know , if we take a look at gender and the gender wage gap is also true nationally and locally. And so when we think about people who are devastated by poverty and poverty as an experience , we're looking at communities that are south of the eight. When we talk about San Diego County , you know , underinvested and historically marginalized and redlined. So all of these all of these. Attributes are common when we talk about folks who experience poverty. But we also have to consider it's not just located in one community or one geographic area. You know , if we think about race and we think about gender as indicators or aspects of a community that might experience poverty , we have to think about it countywide. We have to think about Oceanside , we have to think about Vista. We have to think about all of these other enclaves where where folks might exist. And so the bulk of our programs , when we started in southeastern San Diego with four zip codes , we serve all of San Diego County in the work that we do.

S3: You know , what.


S4: Um , and so providing ladders out of that experience , out of the experience of poverty , you have to think about income and liquid assets. You have to think about structural changes. Um. For example , 1960s civil rights legislation. Legislation. Fair Housing Act. Voting Rights Act. Those structural changes opening up very clear workforce pathways , pathways to home ownership and securing housing , things like that that moved families , individuals forward with the ability to participate in society. So think we have to we think about those ladders , think about on an individual level , what might work. And at the same time , you have to acknowledge and address the structural factors that really have historically held families back , individuals back from accomplishing and escaping really the experience of poverty. So now , you know , if I think about it , in the programs that we do with guaranteed income and cash transfer , it's about providing those stepping stones because we know income is only one aspect of wealth accumulation. Yet housing , you got businesses , you've got , you know , stocks and and mutual funds and things like that. That's very diverse. But if we're addressing one stone at a time , right ? We have to really think on an individual level , how can we support it on a structural level ? How do we open up , you know , the pathways and the way out.

S1: In the conversation about poverty and also about homelessness , the focus seems to be on affordability many times on housing affordability , on inflation , and it's not so much on wages and and pay.

S4: This is just my analysis. No one else but just me. When people are talking about inflation and , you know , the forces that be they're talking about and want to talk about , rather , and shift the focus to something that is more abstract and outside of us. Whereas when we talk about the wage gap and the wages in San Diego County , it becomes very clear that people are underpaid. Wages need to increase to keep up with the cost of living. Here we have faces and organizations and names to put to this particular effort. So I think sometimes people move the ball in public discourse and it really distracts from what we can do locally and what we see locally. So wage gap is very tangible. Inflation not so much and it's an inflation is accumulation of all of these other market forces that people like to place outside of them. And it's harder to pinpoint. So think what I make of that is we need to start having really clear dialogue and we can do that locally in San Diego , much more difficult at a national level , but it can be done. But making the conversation , playing locally gets us to the state level. It gets us to federal eventually , right ? So it all starts at home. And I think we just need to be very clear and precise in what we're talking about.

S1: That was Kia Pollard , director of Economic Mobility and Opportunity at San Diego nonprofit Jewish Family Services. Still ahead , we'll continue our conversation with the resources and programs being offered at Jewish Family Services to push economic mobility forward in San Diego.

S4: You know , we're taking all of these lessons and we're transforming it into tangible work and programs and approaches that will make a difference.

S1: The resources available up next. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. You're listening to Kpbs Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman. I've been speaking with Keith Pollard , director of Economic Mobility and Opportunity at San Diego nonprofit Jewish Family Services. We're talking about economic mobility in San Diego 60 years after the March on Washington. You know , and I , I would imagine that it is incredibly difficult to pull yourself out of poverty.

S4: And it studied 150 years of the racial wealth gap from reconstruction era to today. And it is incredible. One , how much has changed and how much has remained the same. And I spoke a little bit about the struggle for basic civil rights in the 1960s. But there is a whole trajectory prior to that where certain segments of the population and I'm just going to focus in on black people right now were were property owned as property , and that was a massive transfer in wealth during the reconstruction era where , okay , black people are no longer property , how do we move forward ? And today we are still climbing out of that hole. When we look at , you know , across the board housing , you know , the number of businesses owned by black people , people of color. What shares of equity do we have ? You know , mentioned stocks , mutual funds , liquid assets. You know , there's a 6 to 1 wealth gap right now between white Americans and black Americans. And that that really means for every dollar that a white person has , black person has $0.17. And all of all of this information is is well studied and well documented. So we're at a point the age of information where , okay , we have some clear decisions to make when it comes to addressing this wealth gap and we have to look at it. Through a racial lens , a gendered lens. And we have to really take into account all the sources of wealth and how those accumulate over time. So it's a it's a very thorny , multi-pronged problem , complex problem that in 2023 , we really have to have some some complex solutions to address.


S4: We're talking about not only providing foundational financial support , but really opening the doors to new pathways to supporting people in the human service sector. So how do we do service ? What do our practices look like ? You know , how do we recreate and redesign practices that really account for the unique situations of families and seniors and those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness ? How do we do that in a way that will mobilize them and change structurally the things that have helped the wealth gap accumulate over time ? So as much as we do with guaranteed income and providing the monthly resources to families in our community , right now it's $500 a month to families. We're providing guaranteed low income families , predominantly families of color most of the time because again , income and wealth are our income and race , rather , are linked. We're supporting them on that level and at the same time talking about , okay , how do we promote policy and structural change that changes the circumstances ? How do we continue to level the playing field knowing that it was unequal for the vast majority of this country's existence ? How do we start to do that ? And through talking about and providing money that is no strings attached , we give people the freedom and the freedom and the space and the time to revision. Life is a revolutionary act in and of itself. So as much as we talk about the money and the tangible , we also talk about the values that are beneath and hold that to be true.

S1: You know , during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and just before Dr. King's death , the civil rights movement was moving into its next phase of fighting for economic justice. Do you see your department and your organization pushing for that at this point ? Absolutely.

S4: I do. And it's what gets me up every morning and gets me excited to do complicated work to to build and design programs that have not been executed here before. We are turning the corner. Jewish Family Service as an agency is really looking across the agency to see , okay , who do we serve now and what is going to best serve them in the future and how do we involve people in the creation of what that future looks like ? And through my department , we're opening doors to more conversations about economics. We're asking people , you know , is $500 making a difference for you and in what ways ? You know , what have you seen open up for you , whether that's in your family personally , whether that's in your job or your professional life. All of these things matter as an organization that's providing service to thousands of people a year. You know , we're taking all of these lessons and we're transforming it into tangible work and programs and approaches that will make a difference.


S4: And we we executed it last year , March of last year. And we have families , about 150 families enrolled. And some families have opted into narrative change work with us. People have been very generous with sharing data on what they've used the money on , you know , their purchases and things like that. In early returns , we're seeing folks are spending money on food , People are buying food to eat for their families. The second highest category is household expenses. So. They're going to places like Costco , you know , they're buying toilet paper and all that household essentials and things like that. Um , and then , you know , you're seeing people pay utilities and other household expenses as well. So smaller percentage is being dispersed on the other ends of the spectrum. But all really basic needs , people are spending it , as you and I would. They're spending it on things that they really need. And I think that this provides insight. You know , when we hear numbers about poverty , who's experiencing poverty ? San Diego County has a lower rate of poverty , you know , according to the census. Right. Think we're about 10% or 11%. Um , however , you have communities that are really struggling with the area median income , you know , it's it's just increasingly harder to live , you know , the high cost of living. And that shows in what people are buying , where people are getting their support and where people are getting their resources. A lot of people are getting their support from family , their community , their church , you know , all of these informal networks of support as well. And so as we're collecting this financial data , we're also talking to them and we're also hosting conversations and we're also learning , you know , things that we didn't know about the needs that exist in San Diego.


S4: It's well documented at this point that most of black households wealth portfolio is housing. You know , there are a lot of black homeowners that are emerging and that's great. I'm loving what I'm hearing about black business ownership increasing nationally. I think we still have lots of growth in that area to do. Um , when we get into kind of the stickier subjects like stocks and other kinds of funds and investments as well as pure liquid assets , I think we can do better. I think we can do a lot better in providing people options. Um , a lot of people like to say financial education , I like to say financial consciousness raising. So what is out there ? What resonates with that individual ? Because now people are making conscious choices. They get to choose where they invest their money and how they do it. How do we also provide options for collective wealth and build a solidarity economy ? New term that's really nice and really emphasizes the interconnectedness and interdependence of people. How do we uplift that too ? Because when people have been disenfranchised for so long , it is collective strength that really , really helps level the playing field and pull people from experiencing poverty much more quickly , provides much more support. It's a communal lens that think we can apply when we're talking about closing wealth gaps. It's it's , um , it's imperative. It's really important that we start to expand our vocabulary and how we do it and how we approach it. And of course , you know , I mentioned earlier workforce development. It is so it's important and it's , it's very it needs its own revitalization , that word. Because when we think about it , we think about just , you know , getting someone the job and career readiness. But let's deepen our understanding about what that means , what jobs , what careers. Let's get specific. Let's make sure that people can stay in the communities that they live in. You know , let's make sure that there's a clear pipeline to careers and what careers are they , Right ? So if we're thinking locally , you know , we can work with leadership to get these things done. And so I think all solutions are needed. And really , I think underneath all of it , we have to respect the individual's ability to choose. We have to change the mind frame and the mindset of doing economics onto people. We have to have them actively participating. Yeah.

S3: Yeah.

S1: And you know , and we talk a lot about jobs and careers , but , you know , there is a place for self sufficiency in the conversation. And I know you're also a business owner. You and your mom own a cafe shop in Sherman Heights called Cafe X. Buy any beans necessary ? I love the title. And part of its goal is to build generational wealth in San Diego's black communities.

S4: With the original inception of the idea. And it's it's formed officially as of five years ago and we survived the pandemic. And I strongly believe that's because of the collective community that supported us , that believe that we have the power to create and provide the jobs and we have the ability to create and provide so much more in leadership potential , right ? So one of our duties as cafe and at the cafe is to develop that leadership pipeline. And we do that through our internship program. We're partnered with the Workforce Partnership , Access Inc , South Bay Community Services , and I'm leaving a bunch of others out. But nonprofits in the region , manpower organizations that place young people 16 to 25 at the coffee shop , they work , they learn about how to organize , they learn about how to develop events. They learn about coffee and what it means to be a part of a team and a collective. And we're a cooperative. So in the future , if they choose to again choice , they can join the cooperative as a worker owner. So have a stake , have some equity in the business. And that's really the movement that I sought to start years ago and see come to fruition. And I knew it wasn't going to be embraced by all I knew it wasn't popular to talk about a cooperative and , you know , collective economics. But it's it's going to become necessary. And I strongly I hold that vision. And that's what we've been doing. And that's one of the the core programs that we do. Other things we do is we provide financial education , consciousness raising workshops where we bring in people to talk about housing and equity. We bring in people to talk about credit repair. We bring in people to talk about end of life services like wills and trust , estate planning , things like that , so that our community has awareness of what these things are and they can start to plan and plan with us and co-create , you know , the vision for their life and their family. So in many ways , you know , we're doing the work of economic mobility there. And it's it's all very much connected. The nonprofit sector , the business sector , I see it all working in tandem.

S3: So many ways.

S1: To push the movement forward. I've been speaking with Kia Pollard , the director of Economic Mobility and Opportunity at Jewish Family Services. Kia , thank you so much for joining us.

S4: Thank you so much for having me.

S1: How much progress do you think has been made since the March on Washington in 1963 ? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228. You can leave a message or you can email us at midday at And if you ever miss a show , you can find the Midday Edition podcast on all platforms. I'm Jade Hindman. Thanks for listening.

T'Kyrra Terrell, 6, who her grandmother says has been marching and protesting since she was 2, poses for a portrait on her way to the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin
Associated Press
T'Kyrra Terrell, 6, who her grandmother says has been marching and protesting since she was 2, poses for a portrait on her way to the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Washington.

On Aug. 28, 1963, as many as 250,000 people gathered around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to demand voting rights, fair wages, economic justice, education, civil rights protections and an end to segregation.

It was also where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood," King said.

Thousands again converged in Washington, D.C., on Saturday for the March on Washington's 60th anniversary. There's been progress on the 1963 marchers' demands, but work still needs to be done.

For example, a big part of King's dream was, and still is, for everyone to make at least a living wage, have a job and build wealth. That goal seems to be far in the distance as we head into Labor Day against the backdrop of employees across the country demanding higher wages. Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to skyrocket, driving more people into poverty.

“The racial wealth gap and the employment gap are still things that we’re talking about and things we are addressing today in 2023.”
Khea Pollard, director of economic mobility and opportunity at Jewish Family Service

“The racial wealth gap and the employment gap are still things that we’re talking about and things we are addressing today in 2023,” said Khea Pollard, director of economic mobility and opportunity at the San Diego nonprofit Jewish Family Service.

Strides made since 1963 have been significant but haven't come without struggle.

"Historically, there's been a backlash to the perceived gains of Black people in this country," said Adisa Alkebulan, chair of the Africana Studies department at San Diego State University.

KPBS Midday Edition talked to Pollard and Alkebulan about what progress has been made and what work still needs to be done.


  • Adisa Alkebulan, Ph.D., chair and associate professor in the department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University
  • Khea Pollard, director of economic mobility and opportunity at Jewish Family Service.

Editor's note: A previous version of this story referred to the organization as Jewish Family Services. It's Jewish Family Service.